From a short hikes to climbing Everest
Modern hiking poles were previously used mainly by European trekkers, but now they have taken over the world. They are used on every continent in many situations, from a short hike near home to climbing Everest.
Their popularity implies that they are helping many users, but what exactly are the benefits of trekking poles?
Balance is the first area that trekking poles can assist in. When carrying large loads on our backs, we move our center of gravity higher, essentially making us top heavy. When this high center of gravity is added to the uneven terrain found on the trail, any slight loss of balance can be amplified. Hiking poles increase your base of support and enable the correction of these small mistakes. By utilizing the arms we have four points of contact rather than two, and get the added stability that comes with this.
Although increased balance is advantageous, the main benefit most users receive from trekking poles is assistance in descending. When moving downhill, there is a large amount of pressure on the knees as they help the body slow its descent - effectively acting as brakes. With long downhill trails, the quadriceps muscles become fatigued and offer less support to the knees. This can lead to pain during and after the descent. Using hiking poles helps redistribute some of the load to the upper body, reducing the pressure on the knees. Anyone with a history of knee problems or arthritis of the knees is very likely to benefit from using trekking poles.
Before you head out on your next trip, consider getting some trekking poles. This will be particularly important if you have any history of pain or arthritis of the knee. It won't take long for you to feel the benefit and your knees will thank you for it.