by Amanda Foster & Raigan Fundalewicz, Owners, The Hike Shack
Many people have been playing outside more and more lately. One thing we may not think of carrying with us when we hike is trekking poles. In many families, all generations are finding the positive effects of poles; the children, parents, and grandparents are using trekking poles on the trails. The benefits of them include increased muscle usage, more stability, less impact on the lower body, and they can be used to ward off unwanted items you may come across on your path.
When you use two trekking poles, you engage your arms and shoulders with each step. This actually helps you to burn more calories when you hike since you are engaging more muscles. With your hands raised a little higher and following the flow of the poles, you increase your circulation and can prevent unwanted swelling in your hands and fingers.
Your balance is increased tremendously. It is like you now have an extra set of limbs for stability. They give better traction on different surfaces, too, depending on the tip, foot or basket used. They are handy in stream crossings, on slippery rocks or if the ground is not stable. If you tend to look up at the scenery when hiking, this helps you to not fall down giving you a safer adventure.
Using poles can reduce the impact on your body especially when you are going downhill. They push you to walk with your weight more forward and with more of a fore and mid foot strike. When you walk this way and your upper body absorbs some of the impact, the pressure is reduced all the way down to your feet. This reduction in stress on your body can help keep you on the trails longer and reduce your pain.
Trekking poles can also be used to keep away smaller animals, move debris out of the way, test the snow, a puddle, or a river for depth, or to dust off rain drops or snow on trees above you to keep you dry.
The benefits to using trekking poles are tremendous. They can keep you walking longer with less pain and keep you safer wherever you choose to take them.