A Brief History of the Nordic Curl
Nordic curls are all the rage in 2022. Across the interwebs and various fitness spaces one can see them touted for their benefits. Let’s get one thing out of the way off of the bat. Nordic curls are awesome. Nordics are awesome because they are hard and this makes them so aspirational and psychologically engaging. Until recently there were no easy ways to make nordics convenient and accessible to the athletic and gym-going masses. Gone are the days where one of the few options to do a nordic was a partner desperately pinning your sweaty ankles down. Behind every great exercise, there is a history and an innate connection with the human body. It is only fitting that the first blog post published for users of the Nordstick provides a brief glimpse into the history of the exercise that was the genesis of this great product.
The first published mention of the nordic curl appears in George Herbet Taylor’s 1860 book Exposition of the Swedish Movement Cure. You can see an excerpt from that book below which looks a lot like how we all struggle to do Nordic curls without a Nordstick.
The title refers to the “Swedish Movement Cure” which was a system of medical gymnastics that purported to address various musculoskeletal ailments. This so-called Swedish gymnastic system began in the early 19th century as part of the broader movement known as the physical culture movement, the first modern systematic approach to exercise. The physical culture movement was born out of the experience of several nations during and after the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century. Basically, after twelve years of fighting all across Europe, several countries came to the conclusion that their populations needed to be more physically prepared for military service. Incidentally, these ideas began and most caught on in Sweden, Denmark, and Germany (more on that here). Eventually, the use of exercise and systematic training methods became more broadly accepted for preventing and treating physical ailments. This eventually led to the development of physical therapy, massage therapy, sports science, and gymnastics. Now there’s something I bet you didn’t learn in history class.
So here you are in 2022 enjoying the Nordstick, a product made so that you can do Nordic curls, an exercise born in the Nordic countries as part of a school of thought that centered on preventing and treating illness, developed in response to the French conquering most of Europe. In our next post we’ll see how much of the intuitions of our Nordic ancestors hold up under the scrutiny of modern science. In the meantime, happy curling!
- Taylor, G. H. (1860). An Exposition of the Swedish Movement-cure ...: Together with a Summary of the Principles of General Hygiene. United States: Fowler and Wells.