Ten years ago hardly anyone used trekking poles. Trekking poles can relieve the strain on your back and legs. A landmark study published by Dr. G. Neureuther in 1981 proved that use of “ski poles” while walking reduces the pressure strain on the opposite leg by approximately 20%. Poles can help your balance, Trekking poles can improve your workout, allowing you to burn 20-40% more calories. Walkers in the United States has been slow to embrace the sport.

How do trekking poles help?

Trekking poles make a huge difference, especially on hilly terrain. I bought a pair of Leki poles before a recent hiking trip in Connecticut, and they saved my back, my knees and my butt more than once. The steep inclines of the trail would’ve been treacherous without them, and my legs would’ve given out long before reaching the Pinnacle.

What is the proper technique for hiking with trekking poles?

There are three basic rules you need to follow:

  1. Adjust the height properly. This is a subjective adjustment, but adjusting the top of the pole to line up with your belt-line is a good starting point. You may go shorter for steep uphills, or longer for steep downhills.

  2. Use the wrist straps properly. This is the number one problem that I see — most people haven’t learned how to use the wrist straps. It’s not really intuitive, but when used properly, your wrist strap will support your weight without requiring you to grip the hand at all!

  3. Swing the poles with rhthym. This is something you never really stop to think about, but even without poles your arms swing as you walk. When you put your right foot forward, your left arm swings forward as well. Our body does this to help maintain smooth balance as we move. With trekking poles, it’s no different. Plant the left pole forward as you step forward with your right foot (and vice versa). Develop a rhythm and put some energy into each “plant” and you’ll find you can literally propel yourself forward with the poles.