Friday, January 27, 2012

Advantages of Using Trekking Poles

•They provide better balance and footing.

•On downhill hikes especially, they decrease the amount of stress on your legs and joints.

•On uphill climbs, poles transfer some of your weight to your shoulders, arms and back, which can reduce leg fatigue and add thrust to your ascents.

•They make crossing streams, loose rocks and slippery surfaces such as ice and snow patches easier and safer.

•They help you establish a walking rhythm.

•They can push back overhanging vegetation from the trail and probe soggy terrain for holes and boggy spots.

Trekking poles are most helpful to those with weak or damaged knees or ankles, particularly when going downhill, because the poles absorb some of the impact that your body would normally sustain. According to a 1999 study in The Journal of Sports Medicine, trekking poles can reduce compressive force on the knees by up to 25%. This translates into literally tons of weight that your body will not have to support during the course of a regular hike.

It should be noted that using trekking poles will not decrease your overall energy expenditure since you'll be using your arms more than you would when walking without poles. They do, however, help distribute your energy usage in a way that can help your hiking endurance.

Types of Trekking Poles :

Antishock poles: These offer internal springs that absorb shock when you walk downhill. With most poles, this feature can be turned off when it's not needed such as when you're walking uphill. The antishock feature is recommended if you have weak or damaged ankles, knees or hips. It adds a bit to the cost of the poles.

Standard poles: These do not have the antishock feature and are lighter and less expensive as a result. While they don't absorb as much impact as antishock poles when going downhill, they do provide a similar level of balance and support.

Compact or women's poles: These are shorter and have smaller grips for hikers with smaller hands. They are easier to swing because they weigh less and are also simpler to pack. Youth poles for kids are also available.

Hiking staff: Sometimes called a walking staff or travel staff, this is a single pole that's most effective when used on relatively flat terrain and with little or no load on your back. Hiking staffs are adjustable and some include the antishock feature. They may also include a built-in camera mount under the handle that can be used as a monopod.

Nordic walking poles: Long established in Europe, Nordic walking is gradually becoming popular in the U.S., too. It's a social activity that offers a total body workout. Nordic walking poles are a modified version of trekking poles. REI does not currently carry poles designed for Nordic walking.

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