Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Trekking Poles: Are They Right for You?
I am an avid user of trekking poles. I suffer from osteoarthritis and hypermobility syndrome. This causes my knees to dislocate regularly and is something that I have lived with all my life. So much so that I simply pop my knee back into place myself and strap up for several days when it happens. I say this light-heartedly but I can barely describe how excruciatingly painful it is.
Fortunately, as I have got older and more aware I am extra careful about my movements to limit the number of dislocations I endure. As a teen, they were a much more regular occurrence. I have received extensive physiotherapy over the years in addition to wearing orthotics and I now rarely go on my hiking adventures without my trusty trekking poles.
However, all that said, just because I swear by them and they are right for me, are they right for you? I was inspired to write this post on the topic when I read a letter published in The Great Outdoors magazine. The writer queried whether the use of trekking poles put potentially detrimental stress on the users’ wrists.
Now the claims that trekking poles reduce stress on knees is what first drew my attention to potentially using them and I fully believe they have helped me immensely. I personally have not felt any issues in my wrists from using trekking poles even though I suffer from osteoarthritis in all my joints. So are they just a marketing gimmick?
The same argument could be used for the fitness tracker bands and watches that sync to an app to track your activities, diet and even sleep.
I have read numerous articles that suggest walking 10K steps a day was PR gimmick by a company to sell their fitness brand but it was a marketing genius that took the world by storm and now there are hundreds of thousands of people, including myself, that wear and track our every move.
Walk 1000 Miles Challenge
A useful way to protect your knees as you hike downhill zig-zag or walk slightly to the side down the trail whenever possible to avoid walking directly down on straight, extended legs which will create a painful feeling of pounding on the knees.
Using trekking poles while you are doing this helps to give you better stability. I love this post from Kristen of the Barefoot Theory blog on How to Choose the Best Trekking Poles.
I personally use Gelert Ascent Performance Walking Poles - £23
2-tone easy-grip handle design
Summer basket & rubber tip protector included
Adjustable webbing hand strap
Upper section foam grip for optional use
No. of sections: 2
Extended length: 135cm
Compact length: 83cm
Mr AA uses Fizan Compact Walking Poles - £45
Almost the double the price but half the weight.
Aluminium alloy 7001
3 Sections - telescopic from 58 to 132cm
FLEXY locking system
Eva grip with neoprene strap
E-Basket with carbide tip
Tip rubber protection
A great graphic by ActiveWeekender.com
Proper Fitting Hiking Footwear.
Now hiking boots need a whole separate blog post all of their own so I will keep this as a brief overview. I love and swear by my Scarpa Women's Terra GTX Walking Boots. When I went shopping to buy my current pair I was not sure if I wanted walking shoes or boots. I had done a lot of online research before I went and had pretty much decided on the Scarpa boots from the reviews and posts I had read.
I recommend going to a specialist outdoor company and trying on many different pairs, makes, models. Take a pair of hiking socks with you and walk around the shop. Do not rush this process you want to be sure of your purchase. It is worth spending the time and the money to buy what is best for you and your needs.
Think about what adventures you do most. Terrain and average weather conditions. Your feet are the foundation of almost every movement that you make. If you have improper footwear that makes you feel uncomfortable or restricted while hiking than that will certainly take a toll on your knees, hips and even the low back.
Over To You
Well, I hope you have found this post useful. Now it is your turn to share with us your opinions. If you use them we would love to hear your thoughts and what type/brand and why. Do you agree with poles or are they a waste of time? You can comment below or find us on social media @AdventureAccess using hashtag #AdventureWild.
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