How to Use Walking Poles and their Benefits
How to use walking poles is one of those subjects that can divide opinion. In fact, whether to use them at all is also often a point of contention! You either love them and would not consider walking without them or you hate them and think they are a waste of money. No sitting on the fence there then!
It took me many years to change my opinion of walking poles, having carted them around on numerous expeditions and never actually using them. It was not until a friend mentioned that in addition to saving my knees on the descents, that they actually can make you quicker on the ascents. I have never looked back!
So what are some of the benefits of using walking poles, here are a few examples:
- Probably the greatest benefit is to help your knees on the downhill sections of hills and trails. If you are one of the lucky people that do not have knees past their sell by date, then count your lucky stars, but also think about that old adage “prevention is better than cure”. Poles can be very helpful in taking the pressure off your knees and they can also help protect your knees in the years to come, because one thing is for certain – we are all getting older! Walking off hills puts a large amount of impact through your knees and poles ease this considerably.
- As mentioned above, using poles on the ascents is a great way to increase your speed. I find myself pushing up with my arms as well as my legs these days and this allows me to get to the top of the hill quicker and in better shape.
- Using poles is also a great way of toning your triceps, loosing those bingo wings and getting more of your body involved when out walking instead of just using your legs.
- On icy days, poles are a great asset to have as they provide 2 more points of contact with the ground and as they have sharp ends, they give good traction on the ground.
- Most of us will not be wading across rivers, but on occasion, when the streams have been well fed by rain, then you may find yourself negotiating small sections of stream or shallow rivers where a set of poles will be a huge help in steadying yourself on the way across.
- I often use my poles as a monopod for taking photos where the subject is quite far away and I need to steady the camera and lens. Also useful for sunset photos where you will need a slow shutter speed!
- As with most kit, the technology has really moved on leaps and bounds and nowadays walking poles come with ergonomic handles, spring loaded tips, are made from super lightweight materials and are collapsible, allowing you to carry them easily on your rucksack.