By Glenyce Johnson, Founder of Wandering the World
A question we’re often asked at Wandering the World is: Do I need to use walking poles?
Whether to use walking poles or not is a personal choice. There is however a vast amount of research available that supports the benefits of using poles when walking and trekking. We’ll share here why we choose to use them when we wander, in the hope that it helps you decide whether or not walking poles are right for you.
1. Reduce wear and potential damage to your lower joints
Studies have shown, that when you use walking poles, they help reduce the load bearing weight on the joints of the lower back, hips and knees. By reducing the load on your joints, it potentially reduces the wear (and damage) to them.
2. Improve balance and stability
Have you ever grabbed a stick when faced with a river crossing, or on a steep descent, to give you a bit more stability? Walking poles take this one step further. By using a walking pole on each side, you help with your balance and stability – with the end result being a decrease in the likelihood of injuries.
3. Maintain proper posture – help prevent back pain/injury
When we walk, it’s common to lean forward, which increases as we get tired. Also – when carrying a daypack, we naturally lean forward even more. This results in the weight being carried by a spine that’s bent forward, which increases the likelihood for injury or back pain. When you use walking poles, it encourages better posture, makes you stand taller, and increases the airflow you’re able to take in. This takes the pressure off your back and makes it easier to breathe.
4. Increase exercise
Walking is something that most people can do. The benefits of walking are well known – when you get out moving you reduce your risk of health problems such as heart attacks, as well as reducing body weight, and an increase in the ‘feel-good’ hormones. When you use walking poles, you also add some benefits to your upper body as you’re using more muscles – including increased muscle tone, better circulation, and better weight control.
5. Enhance the enjoyment of walking
This one is simple. For most of the reasons we’ve already covered, when walking is easier, it becomes more enjoyable. When you are feeling less pain, and reducing your risk of injury, you’ll naturally enjoy your walking more. Which leaves you feeling more relaxed, and in a better state of mind to take in the natural beauty around you and engage more with your walking companions.
It’s important to note that these benefits are greatest when walking poles are used correctly – so make sure you find out how to best use them. Staff in the store where you buy them, or experienced hikers that use them are great resources.