How to use a trekking pole: 101
To use or not to.
It is an unending debate when it comes to the topic whether to use a trekking pole or not. You will always find people divided into two groups- against and in favor of using the pole on a trail.
Some trekkers support trekking poles and pin them as one of the essential items in trekking gear list. While some trekkers prefer a self-reliant style and prefer not to use them while walking on the trail.
A trekking pole definitely offers some benefits but as it goes with most useful things, using it without considering the due precautions may cause problems.
Benefits of using a trekking pole
1. Makes walking like a cakewalk
Trekking poles make walking the trail easier. They help maintain a forward momentum while ascending and descending on a trail and improves balance while carrying a heavy backpack.
2. While crossing a river stream
Trekking Pole is a great asset while crossing the river stream alone. It provides you assistance and balance in the river by forming a stable tripod with your legs and trekking pole.
3. Trekking Pole = 4 legs (almost)
Poles provide more points of contact slimming the chances of slipping and falling on the trail.
4. Knee saver, especially on the downhill
Hiking put an extraordinary stress on knees, ankles, and hips causing injuries while walking on the trail, especially on steep descents. Poles transfer the body weight on other muscles and reduce the strain that would ordinarily be absorbed by the joints and muscles in the lower body alone.
5. Aerobic benefits of trekking pole
Trekking poles enhance muscle building by engaging upper body muscles like biceps, triceps, pectorals, and side muscles which aren’t ordinarily used while hiking. Regularly engaging these muscles with the use of trek pole will strengthen them.
Frequently caused problems
1. Over - Reliance
Sometimes, trekkers turn the trekking pole into their escalator. I mean one can use it for occasional support but it will definitely not give you any additional stamina like glucose! So, keep the trek pole light & handy and trek with your legs.
2. In case you trip
Yes, it prevents you from slipping and falling. But in the unfortunate events of you tripping, the trekking pole can cause additional injury if not placed properly. Thus, it should always be in the hand on the inclined side of the trail. In the case of a fall, one should always be careful enough to raise the pole above the line of your body.
3. Wrist entrapment
I don’t mean to scare you but improper reliance on straps can lead to injury on falls. The imbalance can cause you to fall which is ironical to the purpose of a trekking pole. So, always use the strap as a self-anchor only.
Here is a simple list of Do’s & Don’ts for using the trekking pole:
Shorten your trekking pole while going uphill. Increase the length for downhill slopes
Limit the use of poles in ecologically sensitive areas
Place the poles of trail surface rather than off trail or on vegetation
Use the strap as a self-anchor only
Always keep it in the hand on the inclined side of the trail, in case you are using one trekking pole
Use the trekking pole only for balance. Do not put too much weight on it
Ready to Use one?