Trekking Poles are one of the most important pieces of equipment in the hikers and trekkers arsenal. They have many incredible benefits on the trail...such as reduced chance of injury, improved movement efficiency and even increased comfort.
And while there are no 'magic pills' in the world, trekking poles are about as close as you can get... and they can show many immediate improvements to common issues while hiking.
Here are 7 reasons why trekking poles are THE most important piece of equipment for trekkers:
1) Reduce Knee Pain
Hiker's knee is probably the #1 issue I hear from trekkers. Almost everyone experiences some type of knee pain on the trail, particularly during descents.
Studies have shown that trekking poles can greatly reduce forces put through the knee joint while walking downhill.
That makes them a MUST for anyone who suffers from knee pain on the trail.
2) Reduce Back and neck Pain
A long days walking can lead to some pretty abysmal posture.
And a common consequence of this is both lower back and neck pain.
Trekking poles can keep you upright, keep your upper body engaged and does a world of good!
And for those who already suffer from lower back pain and nervous about hitting the trail, one study has shown that poles can greatly reduce the discomfort on the back while hiking.
*This is particularly important if your are carrying a heavy pack!
Want some more tips to help with lower back pain while trekking? Check out this article!
3) Reduce other lower limb injuries
Other common issues on the trail are overuse injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis.
While there are no direct studies to back this up (yet), there are numerous anecdotal experiences of how trekking poles have helped to reduce symptoms of these issues.
This makes complete sense as it's been shown that trekking poles help distribute some of the forces generated by walking into the upper body, giving the lower limbs a much needed reprieve.
Struggling with foot pain while hiking? Learn how to train around it here!
4) Improve Balance
Trekking poles help improve balance and stability on the trail.
This is particularly important during river crossings, in mud, during rock scrambling or steep traverses.
By improving your stability, not only will you reduce the effort and stress that comes with these terrains... but you will also greatly minimise the risks associated with slips, stumbles and falls such as rolled ankles, twisted knees and sprained wrists.
5) Improve Movement Economy
Trekking poles reduce the rate of perceived effort of hiking uphill.
This is most likely because of the greater contribution from the upper body as well as the change in posture enabled with poles.
One (very) small study showed that when hiking uphill at a significant grade, under significant load, trekking poles increases walking efficiency by approximately 10% and decrease perceived effort by 20%.
6) Reduce Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness is a constant plague when on multi-day treks.
There is nothing worse then rolling out of bed, stiff and sore and dreading another days hiking...
Trekking poles have been shown as an efficient way to reduce muscle damage, muscle soreness and even the associated potential for injury.
7) Stops Swollen fingers
For people with bad circulation, swollen fingers and hands are an unpleasant by product of hiking.
Using trekking poles keeps the hands moving, improve circulation and reduce swelling.
So say goodbye to fat fingers forever!
Trekking poles have numerous benefits and are particularly important if you suffer from any type of lower limb pain in the trail. They are one of THE most important pieces of equipment for trekkers and you should never leave home without them.
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.