Years ago when I first started out as a Snowys salesperson, I never quite understood the need for hiking poles (also known as walking sticks, walking poles, hiking sticks, trekking poles, camping poles, and stocks - but let’s call them hiking poles for now). As a keen walker myself, I thought that hiking poles were for those who had difficulties walking properly or were on their way to a hip replacement! How wrong I was! I’ve now learned the error of my ways and have discovered the immense benefits that hiking poles offer. Now you won’t catch me on one of my walking tours through the Blue Mountains, Tasmania or even Mt Crawford without one or two.
So what are hiking poles good for?
According to many studies, and from personal experience, there are some fantastic benefits of using hiking poles that can give even the most skilled bushwalker a better advantage. All you need is a little common sense and a bit of skill, training and practice and you can experience all the benefits that I will outline below. Hopefully this will help with your decision on whether you decide to take hiking poles with you on your next journey.
They reduce impact on your limbs and joints
- Hiking poles are great in that they can bear about 5kg of your load when walking on a level ground and 8kg when on an incline.
- This means that your risk of injury and wear on your lower body is reduced.
- The hiking poles bear the brunt of the extra weight and therefore your lower joints, such as your hips, knees, ankles, and feet are more protected from strain and stress impact.
They protect your back, neck and shoulder from fatigue and strain AND…
they improve your posture
- Just like joint problems mentioned above, back problems can also occur because when we walk we tend to lean forward and continue to lean further and further over time due to fatigue. Carrying a backpack and leaning can then place a weight burden on our spine and bring with it possible pain and even injury to not only the back but the neck and shoulders. Hiking poles can enhance stability and your posture can become straighter so that the weight you bear is spread evenly throughout your body, and you can breathe easier and more efficiently.
- Even if you have an existing ailment such as back problems or arthritis, hiking poles can take some of the impact usually caused to you from walking and help you to enjoy your walk without worry of having to stop as much or turn around and go home.
They reduce the risk of injury
- Using hiking poles is like adding an extra leg or two. They give you better stability and balance when climbing steep hills, crossing creeks, or winding your way down a rocky and overgrown bush path.
- They are strong, reliable, and lightweight and are always “at the ready”; they can be used in an instant to avoid falls if you have trouble grounding your foot or you misplace your step.
- If you are having trouble seeing where you’re treading, use your hiking poles to keep you safe from pot holes, deep water, or the edge of a cliff!
- Hiking poles can also help if injury does occur. One of our blog authors, David Leslie, told me of the time he lead a walking group through the Grampians and a walker rolled her ankle. They had a long way back to camp, but the walker was able to use a hiking pole to lean on to make her way safely back without having to put any extra weight on her ankle. The hiking pole helped to reduce any further pain or injury to her ankle.
- Hiking poles provide a sense of security which can ultimately help you to feel more relaxed and more able to enjoy the social and environmental aspects of your walk.
They increase exercise intensity
- Not only does walking increase blood circulation which reduces the risk of heart problems, but with the use of hiking poles you are provided with between 20 to 45% more oxygen uptake. This gives you more energy to see and do more in your day.
- Normally, when we walk we only use about 35% of our muscles and our upper body doesn’t get much of a work out. The arm movement that is associated with hiking poles actually helps you to engage up to 90% of your body muscles. This means that your upper body muscles are strengthened and toned, more calories are burned and your blood circulation is increased without the strain and pain that you would normally feel when walking without poles.
- Hiking poles are great for people who want health and fitness results but struggle to undertake high impact exercise, such as aerobics. This is because they give you all the benefits of high impact training, regardless of current levels of health and fitness, without an increase in perceived effort.
They can be used for more than just walking
- Amazingly, hiking poles can be used as tent pegs! Some tents and tarps have rings the right size to fit the tip of the hiking pole through. This is great for emergencies when you need to build yourself a little shelter.
- Some hiking poles have a built-in mount for your camera. With a bit of creativity, you can turn yours into one too!
When in the market for hiking poles, walking sticks, walking poles, hiking sticks, trekking poles, camping poles, and stocks, it is up to you whether you buy one or two, but the benefits of buying a pair is that you have more stability and less stress on your body so that you can enjoy your adventure to its maximum! Just remember, with regular use of hiking poles, you can eventually develop skills that can help to eliminate any future risk of injury from stumbles or falls so that you can walk with peace of mind.
For further information on the benefits of hiking poles, please feel free to shoot us an email or give as a call and we’ll be happy to help!Check out our range of hiking poles to get the best out of your next walk!