Walking poles are tools used to provide support and balance to the hiker. They can reduce pressure on the legs and knees, alleviating back pain and allowing for a smoother, easier trail experience. Moreover, many studies have linked walking with poles to improved physical and mental health benefits.
Having reliable walking poles can provide more than just practical benefits; it can give a person an increased sense of security and peace of mind when faced with dangerous or uneven terrain. Additionally, they provide added stability while trekking in all types of weather conditions and scenarios.
Physical Benefits of Walking Poles
Improved balance and stability
Trekking up and down steep hills is made easier with these helpful tools, as they keep you steady when carrying a heavy load. Serious backpackers consider them essential for navigating rocky terrain – not only do they aid in your balance during ascents and descents, but also provide more support on tricky trails. This can be especially beneficial for people with existing health conditions, such as knee or ankle issues, that are prone to instability when walking.
Reduced pressure on the legs and knees
When using walking poles, you are able to get a more balanced and even footing while hiking. This helps reduce the pressure and strain on your legs and knees by distributing the weight of your body more evenly across all limbs.
Of course, this means that the strain is shifted to your arms and upper body. Yet, although this trade-off means increased fatigue in your arms and upper body; it also reduces weariness in your legs while they maintain their strength throughout.
Integrating trekking poles into your long-distance hiking arsenal is a wise move. When traversing steep inclines, it’s not uncommon to experience tiredness in the lower body — but with poles you can use your entire upper half and core muscles to compensate that! Even when sticking to flatter trails, distributing the burden of walking onto all four limbs (plus your core) will help keep fatigue at bay and relieve some pressure from the legs.
Alleviated back pain
With walking poles, you are able to keep your back in a more upright position which can help relieve lower back pain. They also act as an extra support for the upper body, reducing the strain on your arms and shoulders when carrying a heavier load or going up and down hills. This makes it easier to move around with additional equipment like a camera or first aid kit without tiring yourself out quickly.
Burn Calories Quickly
Walking with poles can help you to burn 20 – 46% more calories than regular walking. This is because the use of poles helps you recruit core muscles and increase your heart rate, making it a much more intense form of exercise. By propelling yourself forward with a light twirl of the wrist, you are able to engage extra muscles in your arms and shoulders, helping you to push yourself further during tough climbs.
Build Upper-Body Strength
Not only can a walking poles provide added protection, it can also help you build upper-body strength. The repetitive action of lifting and pushing the stick in different directions can give your arms and shoulders a great workout. Additionally, using the poles to lean on or support yourself when going up hills or rougher terrain will help to strengthen your core muscles.
Mental Health Benefits
Increased sense of security
Beyond the obvious physical benefits of using walking poles when out in nature, there are also significant mental health benefits. Using walking poles can increase your sense of security, making you feel more at ease and allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without feeling anxious or vulnerable.
If you find yourself in a situation where dangerous animals such as dogs, wild pigs, or bears threaten your safety while backpacking, trekking poles can provide an invaluable layer of protection. If they get too close, pushing them away with the pole or simply making noise can be enough to scare them off.
Additionally, even if no threat is present, just holding a pole while walking can make you feel more “grounded” and connected to nature – which can be incredibly beneficial for your mental wellbeing.
Improved focus and mindfulness
Having walking poles with you while out hiking or trekking can help to increase your focus and mindfulness. The repetitive motion of the pole can provide a rhythmic pattern that may help one to fall into a meditative state and become more aware of their environment. Additionally, using your walking pole to test the stability of rocks and other terrain before advancing can bring attention to small details and give you greater awareness of where you are at each moment. This increased focus on the present moment can help clear the head and create space for more mindful thoughts – all while getting some physical exercise!
Other Benefits of Walking Poles
Facilitate river stream crossing
With the help of poles, you can easily make it across the river. To gain balance and stability while crossing, one person should go at a time sideways to the current’s direction. Take small steps and move slightly towards downstream with three points of contact; use your hiking pole to probe further along!Knee saver:
Aid walking when injured
If you sustain an injury to your foot or knee while out on the trail, trekking poles can be a magnificent source of assistance. Used similarly as one would use crutches, these poles will take the weight off your injured leg enabling you to move ahead with less pain and more stability.
Use on unstable terrain
When hiking, having a pair of poles is incredibly helpful when maneuvering through unstable terrains such as wet grass, mud, scree, snow and ice. With these poles in hand you are able to traverse tricky sections with ease while maintaining balance – especially if you’re carrying weight! Furthermore they offer great stability while crossing uneven terrain or slippery surfaces like muddy or snowy conditions which help immensely. Additionally by using the pole tips one can test how deep snow is and also thick mud may be without taking risks.
Disadvantages Of Hiking Poles
Which Style is Right for You?
Let’s start by exploring the most important factor when selecting a trekking pole: its collapsing capabilities. Trekking poles are typically categorized into three distinct classes, including telescoping, folding and fixed (non-collapsing) varieties. Each type has different characteristics that make them more suitable for certain activities; such as having less weight, high durability or better packability. We’ll discuss these differences in detail below!
Telescoping trekking poles are the go-to choice among hikers and backpackers, as they can be relied upon for their sturdiness and convenience. Popular especially amongst day travelers, telescopic poles have either two or three sections that effortlessly slide in and out of one another while staying locked firmly by a twist mechanism or lever lock system.
Twist locks have been around for a significant amount of time, but are declining in appeal due to their lack of strength; they can jam if forced too hard and tend to loosen when used during strenuous activities. Lever locks, on the other hand, offer more reliability that hikers adore thus making them the preferred choice among outdoor enthusiasts.
Telescoping poles offer the unique advantage of being adjustable in height with ease, allowing you to adjust your pole length when needed. The only disadvantage they present is their heavier weight and larger collapsed size compared to folding designs.
Folding trekking poles are lightweight and easy to transport, as they consist of sections that pull apart from each other and fold up – just like tent poles. What’s more? They’ll collapse down significantly shorter than telescoping poles (some models even shortening by 10 inches), so it takes no time at all to throw them into a travel bag or secure onto your backpack for storage.
Folding trekking poles are favorite among ultralight adventurers, thru-hikers, trail runners and rock climbers due to how lightweight they are and easy to pack. However, it’s essential to remember that folding poles usually can’t handle as much weight as telescoping models and offer a limited range of adjustment. Some ultra-lightweight versions don’t provide any range of adjustment whatsoever making them impractical for sharing between partners or setting up shelters.
Fixed poles are somewhat rare in the hiking world, because they can be a hassle to manage when not being used. Adjustable models provide more flexibility with regards to length – which is beneficial for uphill and downhill treks as well as setting up tents or shelters. Despite this fact, there remain a few fixed options available on the market today that offer an advantage of their own; lightness and affordability.
One or two poles?
Whilst some hikers opt for one pole, as it allows them to remain agile and use the other hand when scrambling around or bushwhacking, most experienced hikers advocate for two poles. This is because all of the advantages that come with a hiking staff (a single pole) are almost doubled when using two.
Trekking with two poles is the preferred way to go as it engages your upper body muscles. Not only does this take strain off of your lower half, but also gives you better balance while crossing difficult terrain alone.
If you’re out in relatively flat land and wearing a light backpack only then one pole would suffice. But when carrying heavy backpacks such as those that weigh 30kg or more; two trekking poles are essential for keeping up good support and stability during hikes!
While there are many different types of walking poles or sticks, each with their own advantages, walking with hiking poles can provide unparalleled benefits for outdoor activities. With improved stability and balance and reduced joint stress, it’s clear that a good set of walking poles can be an invaluable addition to any hike or trek. What’s more, the process of walking with poles is often said to bring clarity and calmness in times of distress.