Trekking poles are not just for old people, women, or people with weak knees. There are many benefits to using trekking poles when you hike. These are some of the advantages I personally enjoy.
1. Total body workout
Your lower body has to carry your weight plus the weight of the backpack. Why not put the upper body to work and share the load? Do your fingers get tingly and swollen during a long hike? That’s because all the blood is going to your lower body muscles that you are using and leaving your hands numb and tingly. Hiking with trekking poles will end that issue. Another trick is to raise your elbows to your heart level and bend your forearms so the hands are above the heart. It supports better circulation.
Generally, you hike faster because the trekking poles help push you forward and you can hike longer because your legs stay strong longer since they are not doing all the work.
2. Better weight distribution
Using trekking poles distributes weight away from your hips, knees, and ankles. That means you are putting less pressure on these joints. By doing so, it reduces the risk of injury.
Did you know on a decent, trekking poles can reduce the force of impact by up to 30%, making long hikes more comfortable? It would be wise to use trekking poles on a downhill especially on hikes that have big elevation gain. Be nice to your body now so it will be nice to you in later years.
3. Increased stability
Have you seen a four-legged animal tripping over something or slipping and fall? Ok, one time, Xena wasn’t paying attention to where she was going and tripped over a branch. It was pretty funny. But the point is, she didn’t fall.
You should always pay attention to your steps but when you don’t, trekking poles just might help you from falling flat on your face. They help you regain your balance if you misstep on a slippery rock or on muddy terrain. On an uphill or a downhill, they help you trek with less energy and more stability.
Walking with poles also helps you with posture so you don’t bend forward too much when you are carrying a heavy backpack.
4. Protective gear
If you ever run into a wildlife, trekking poles can act as protective gear. You can use them to fight back or use them to make you look bigger. Hopefully, we won’t have to execute this in real life but we should be prepared nonetheless. On solo hikes, having them with me definitely makes me feel safer.
I don’t use trekking poles on hikes with a little elevation gain but they go with me anyway on most of the hikes. If you get the poles that are collapsible, you can just carry them on your backpack and they would be there when you need them. Most backpacks come with the straps or loops for the trekking poles like in this photo.
At first, Xena was not sure about the trekking poles. She looked at me as if I grew my arms. She is naturally a cautious pup. If your dog is cautious like Xena, introduce the new trekking poles to her at home by letting her sniff them. Leave them out until she is no longer fearful of the new gear. By accident, the poles touched her while hiking. Since then, she learned to hike in a safe distance away from me so she is out of the reach when I let go of them to take photos.