Balance Walking for CMT May Help Patients Stay Fit, Be Healthier

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Physical activity

Like many of us, people living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease make resolutions to become healthier and more fit.

But while starting something new can be exciting, finding out what exercises are best when you have a limiting condition can be tough to navigate.

In the Exercise and Physical Therapy area on its website, the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA) suggests patients try using Nordic walking poles for exercise — not just for balance and walking, but for stretching, squatting, and bending.

Balance walking can help people with CMT get and stay fit, move with more confidence, and make life easier overall.

balance walking

Dr. Greg Stilwell demonstrates his Nordic walking stance. Credit: CMTA

Balance walking can also help burn calories at a faster pace than ordinary walking, make walking feel easier, keep the body aligned and the core engaged, maintain the heart rate in the fat-burning zone, and improve posture, researchers found.

“Medical studies on ‘pole walking’ uniformly show better breathing, less stress on joints, and other significant advantages over running, including more calories burned in less time,” Joseph Gregory Stilwell, a podiatrist and CMTA Advisory Board member, said in a CMTA news story. In addition, “using a tempo like a simple musical rhythm helps with neurological re-training.”

The walking poles aren’t expensive, are easy to use, and have many benefits, including the ability to help smooth nerve conduction, the ability to be “push-pulled” to use the strongest shoulder and trunk muscles and relieve the stress of tired legs and feet, as well as offer assistance when walking on different surfaces.

The poles also help reduce impact on joints and feet, prevent lower body issues due to foot challenges, and distribute weight among four points of contact rather than just two feet, to increase and improve balance. Make sure to get good walking footwear if you are exercising to save your feet and joints from unnecessary injuries.

Stillwell recommends getting true Nordic poles with a three-piece “fancy Velcro wrist strap” and recommends testing different poles to see which model suits you best. While adjustable models collapse for easy transport, you might want to test the locks on the adjusting mechanisms.

As a fundraiser, a company called Balance Walking will donate a percentage of each sale to the CMTA for every pair of with its Nordic walking poles sold to members of the CMTA, who will also get a 10 percent discount. To begin, visit and enter the coupon code CMTA.