Pole use should to be built up gradually, rather like wearing in a pair of shoes. While initial comfort is vital, your body needs to adjust to the use and movement of the poles. Many people find that when they first use the poles, their upper body becomes tired so try to build up the mileage in stages when first becoming familiar with the poles. Aim to walk in a relaxed fashion but still with awareness of posture and good pole use. Plant the pole a little ahead of your step and follow naturally with your feet and body before removing the pole and bringing it to your front again. It’s the same as walking without poles, except you engage your arms and shoulders far more. Giant steps and plant poles are not the way forward. Keep it neat, relaxed and flowing.
Walking Pole Benefits
Research (this time, scientific) has found that there is a lot to recommend the use of walking poles, such as reducing the accumulated stress of walking on the feet, legs, knees and back. The poles help to share the load of your own weight – and any pack that you carry – more evenly across the whole body.
Walking poles can also:
Protect your knees from the impact of walking, especially when walking downhill
Increase your walking speed, especially going downhill
Improve power and endurance when walking uphill
Aid balance and stability on uneven trails
Improve your posture so that you walk in a more upright position. This can help to prevent back pain and boost your breathing
Strengthen the muscles that support the spine
Reduce fatigue and improve endurance
Burn more calories by providing an upper body workout as well as a legs workout
Build muscles in arms, shoulders and neck
Other Uses for Walking Poles
Walking poles can nicely double up for other uses when enjoying time outdoors. For example, a pole could make a useful extra (or substitute) pole for a tent or tarp shelter.
Use a pole to test the depth of water in a river or snow on the ground.
Some poles have a camera attachment s they can be used as a photo “mono-pod”.
Some poles have an extra attachment to adapt them for use as skiing poles.
If in doubt about your walking pole choice, ask a sales assistant to talk you through your needs and best choice.