Why Trekking Poles?

July 2nd, 2017

Hiking or trekking poles accompany us on every hike. Why do we use them and how do they help? Here are some thoughts and tips that answer these questions.

Most people think of safety as the reason for trekking poles. While this is one reason, you might be surprised to find out that they help improve your posture and the efficiency of your movement. Walking in an upright position helps maximize your breathing by increasing the amount of oxygen that gets to your lungs. Trekking poles help you to achieve an upright walking position.

Your hiking efficiency will be increased by 10 percent, especially when going up or down hill. They also tend to remove between 3 to 5 percent of the impact from every pole plant. Since you are less likely to lose your balance, you reduce knee strain and injuries when walking on uneven terrain. They become your extra set of legs on tough terrain.

Maintaining balance is one of the advantages of trekking poles because it gives you four points of contact instead of just two. They are invaluable as aids on slick surfaces, rough terrain, or crossing streams. In addition, the use of poles results in less strain on the lower back and knees.

Using trekking poles helps you establish a pace when hiking. The rhythm of using the poles in coordination with your stride helps your entire body to achieve a set pace. Getting into a set pace enables your breathing to become steadier and controlled. This improves your  hiking efficiency and allows you to hike longer distances.

Based on published studies, trekking poles significantly increases the amount of oxygen consumed and the number of calories burned. In addition, the poles are an efficient and healthy way to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are engaged every time you lift and pole plant in the front and bring them back to the front.

For someone like me who has knee issues, using trekking poles helps to relieve stress on both my legs and knees. This has been especially noticeable when going down step down grades. Poles have rubber tips which can be placed on the metal tips and really helps when hiking on slick rock. I carry these rubber tips in my back pack just in case.

There are a variety of pole types made of different shaft material, various lock devices for adjusting length, and handle configurations. Pricing can range from $30 a pair to over $100. Trekking poles are a real bargain when considering the cost compared to the benefits gained by using them.