Hiker’s the world over often rely on hiking sticks or poles, and they seem to be a necessity for steeper terrains. And for good reason as they can reduce a lot of stress on particular joints and muscles. They can also give balance and support for those times when exhaustion kicks in. So what are the main benefits of hiking walking poles or trekking poles as others call them?
Stress on Joints
When it comes to flat terrain, there probably isn’t that much difference in the joint stress that trekking poles can can alleviate from your body parts. In fact many hikers, mainly older people, prefer flatter terrain because the joints are not really affected that much. But when it comes to inclines or declines, that’s when joint pain can kick in, and hiking sticks can certainly help with taking some of the weight to reduce the stress.
It’s mainly knees and ankles that seem to cop the brunt of any body tension, but these are the most important parts of hiking! You need to look after your legs because injuries here can keep you off your feet for long periods of time. This is where hiking poles can be your best friend.
Often you’ll be challenged by rocky or slippery terrain and these conditions require hiking sticks to hold your balance. Often you’ll come across waterfalls which have both rocky areas which need to be crossed, and water splashed over theses rocks making theme a little more treacherous to negotiate.
This is obviously a situation where hiking walking sticks will help you alleviate the dangers of this type of crossing. Balance is critical, especially when you reach an age when you tend to sway a little! I believe that trekking poles are more advantageous for balance when age starts to take hold of you.
In saying this, there’s a good chance you’ll be trekking with a backpack secured to your back, this is another thing that can tip your balance. No matter what age you are, backpacks can unbalance you, especially when ascending a rocky mountain. This is just another ideal situation when a hiking stick it going to help you out.
Not that this would happen very often, but maybe you need to protect yourself from the wildlife in the area you happen to be hiking in. This is not exactly what hiking sticks are designed for but have you seen the spike these suckers! You can always flash it around should a predator confront you.
Another safety impact these poles can have, is testing the depth of water. For those streams you must cross, sometimes they appear more shallow than they actually are. Placing a hiking pole in the water can give you some idea of how deep the stream is, and if it has silty mud on the base. You really don’t want to place a foot down and find your foot stuck in mud under water.
Again, this may be more unusual than usual, but what about crossing frozen ice. You won’t know how frozen the ice actually is, but trekking poles can give you an indication just by tapping hard on the ice.
One last safely aspect that you may not think about. It happens all the time, swiping branches out of the way on the trail your walking down. Instead of using your hands and arms, save yourself the trouble of getting thorns and branches scratching you. Simply use the hiking poles to manoeuvre these branches out of your way.
This is going to be a small detail but getting into a rhythm when hiking is advantageous for continuation. Just plodding along can sometimes make you feel like stopping for a rest more often. Trekking with hiking poles somehow seems to give you a rhythm that gives you continuity, and seems to motivate you to continue on your adventure.
You never know when you’re going to need a long stick for a crucial task. You may need to to prop up a tent, lift a dirty bag or poke a tree that could have a bee hive. Having a hiking stick that you use for balance, safety and joint stress can also be used as a handy tool for other situations that tend to crop up whilst hiking.
So on your next hiking adventure, think about using a hiking stick or a pair of trekking poles to help you out with a more comfortable experience. They even come collapsible to make it a great travel accessory.