Trekking poles can take you from a feeling of 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive. Walking poles or ‘trekking poles’ as some people know them, can be a great aid for any walking or trekking adventure as they give added support, stability, traction, propulsion and extend your energy use.
- Impact Reduction – They can really help reduce the impact on your legs, knees, feet, and ankles, especially when going downhill. A recent study found that walking poles can reduce compressive force on your knees by up to 25%.
- Support and Stability – Walking with a pole is a bit like have a safety handrail next to you at all times, providing you with that extra bit of support and balance especially over rough, steep or uneven ground.
- Reducing Effort Needed – By establishing and maintaining a consistent walking rhythm with your walking poles you can increase your speed and keep your posture correct to aid your breathing which in turn reduces your exertion.
- Propulsion- Using the right techniques you can give yourself a good ‘push off’ with each step reducing leg fatigue and add thrust to your ascents, your very own jet pack!
Walking Poles may not be the most expensive piece of kit you will purchase and are available in most walking and outdoor stores for as little as £15 each, but do make sure you buy them in advance and practise with them before any big day of walking, as rocking up with them straight out of the packet not having set the height correctly or learning the correct techniques could spell disaster and end up with you casting them aside as they become a hindrance rather than a benefit. We recommend you take a few weeks walking to get used to them; you could always incorporate it into your training plan if you are using one for a specific event.
Making sure your poles are at the correct height
- Whilst standing on level ground, hold the handle with the pole straight vertically and adjust the height until your forearm is horizontal (90° angle to your body), this is your standard height.
- When ascending, reduce the length of the poles to keep your forearm horizontal to ensure you are not overstretching when placing them.
- When descending, lengthen the poles to keep your forearms are horizontal avoiding stretching and bending when placing the poles
Getting your wrist straps to sit correctly
Ensure you use the wrist straps correctly so you feel comfortable rather than ending with aching wrists and hands.
- Slip your hand up through the wrist strap from below, far enough that the wrist strap goes to the wrist.
- Drop your hand around the handle, with a slight twist, and you should find the wrist strap now goes under your palm.
- Adjust the size to give a comfortable but firm fit. When putting your weight onto the pole you should feel the strap taking the strain.
Simple Walking Techniques
- Use the poles in the same way you would swing your arms when walking normally, using the opposite arm to leg. Imagine the walking pole is part of your arm and as your arm swings forward place the pole tip firmly on the ground. As your legs shift weight, push down on the pole. You are now reducing some of the weight going onto your knees.
- When descending, plant the poles further ahead so that they take weight. Don’t forget to adjust the height of your poles if you are descending for a while.
- When ascending, plant your poles slightly ahead and push on them to help move you upwards. Keep on pushing through as you move past them. You can use both poles at the same time in steep areas.
Looking after your poles
- Make sure after each use you wipe off any dirt before you retract them and completely dry them out, but remember not to be tempted to use oil or WD40 as this will disable the locking mechanism.
Are Walking Poles For You?
- Of course walking poles are not everyone’s cup of tea, you may just find you are happier and feel more comfortable walking and trekking without them. Either way we hope you will just love your adventure.