You’ve probably heard a lot from hikers and backpackers how important trekking poles are for the outdoors. While questioning “why use poles instead of sticks” is the first reaction when you see them using poles during trek, the health benefits of using these poles once you invest on a pair will make you not ask that question again. From feeling your knees and back aching when you finally reach your campsite after a long backpacking trip, to slipping while crossing a stream, there are a lot of instances that are likely to prove to you the importance of using trekking poles when outdoors.
It is a fact that people have been using different things to improve their stability when walking across difficult terrains for several decades now. However, when you view the same, especially as a beginner trekker, it is natural to feel that trekking poles seem totally unnecessary, as if it curbs mobility. If you can’t help but think that trekking poles are for older hikers or for those with back and knee issues, you should learn about their amazing benefits.
Benefits of Trekking Poles
Reduced Impact on Joints
One of the most obvious benefits of trekking poles is their ability to reduce the stress or impact imposed on your muscles and joints. Repetitive stress injuries are more common during treks; when you use trekking poles, the damages and pain caused by these injuries are prevented.
When you hike all day, even without a heavy backpack, a whole lot of stress is planted on your hips, knees, and ankles. You will be able to feel this around your knees especially during steep ascents and descents. Trekking poles allow your shoulder and arm muscles to take up some of the weight and thus reduce this strain in your lower body. This means that the risk of wear and injury to your lower body is reduced, and it can be extremely beneficial even on level terrains.
Occasional slips and falls are an inevitable part of trekking. Trekking poles, with their two added points of contact with the terrain, essentially act as two extra legs in your body, providing you with greater stability. As a result, your chances of slipping are less, which in turn reduces the risks of falls as well.
With trekking poles, you also get to maintain proper forward momentum even on uneven terrains, making it easy for you to move over and around various obstacles such as slippery rocks, logs, streams, river crossings, etc. and also enhancing your balance with heavy loads on your back.
Back problem is another common issue faced by many hikers. When we walk, we naturally tend to lean forward and this is most likely to continue over time. Add to it the weight of your backpack and leaning forward is something you cannot avoid while trekking. This also adds additional weight to your spine. As a result, you could start feeling pain, which can eventually lead to injuries to your back, and to your shoulders and neck as well.
Since trekking poles can help by improving your stability, they can further help by making your posture straight during movement. With poles, the overall load you bear gets evenly distributed across your body, making movement as well as breathing easier and more efficient. As a matter of fact, trekking poles are also known to be an amazing tool for people with existing conditions like arthritis, enabling them to enjoy hiking without having to worry about their pain and the need to stop frequently.
It has been found that trekking poles can help with muscle building, since the use of poles engages the muscles in your upper body, including your triceps, biceps, pectorals, and side muscles, which are otherwise not frequently used. These muscles get strengthened and toned when you use trekking poles on a regular basis. Also, along with strengthening the muscles in your upper body, the whole activity also becomes a full body workout, leaving your body with amazing aerobic benefits.
As a matter of fact, walking is a great exercise known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This happens because of increased blood circulation; but, when you use trekking poles, this is further increased by about 40%, thus leaving you with more energy and endurance.
Trekking poles are an excellent choice for people who otherwise are not comfortable with or find it hard to cope with high impact workouts, but really wish to improve their health and fitness. Use of trekking poles give you the same level of benefits, without the need for you to be in any specific fitness level.
- Trekking poles help reduce the weight you carry on your trip because they can be used as an alternative to your tent poles. In fact, you can save as much as two pounds by using your trekking poles instead of carrying tent poles separately. Also, these are more solid than tent poles, and hence do not easily break even during rough weather conditions.
- Trekking poles help increase your average speed, especially on more even terrains.
- They can be a great safety tool in the outdoors. From helping you identify unforeseen natural conditions like quicksand, puddles, etc., to protect yourself against attack from wildlife such as bears, dogs, etc., trekking poles can be of more help to you than you imagine.
- Trekking poles can also serve as a tool to clear bushes, branches, cobweb, and other nuisances that get in your way on the trail.
- During emergency circumstances, if at all you face one, you can use trekking poles to support strained joints or broken bones.
But remember, these benefits can be enjoyed only when you learn the proper techniques to use the trekking poles. With constant use of trekking poles, you gain more skills and experience that can help you eliminate the risk of getting injured during all your future trails, enabling you to enjoy the outdoor adventure with complete peace of mind.