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Free Guidebook

Our guidebook "The Australian Bushwalker's Guide to Walking Poles" will show you:

  • The benefits of walking with poles.
  • Correct hand grip technique.
  • Correct placement of poles while walking.
  • What to look for when selecting poles.

Fill in the form below and we'll mail you a free copy!

Please note: free guidebooks are only available to residents of Australia and New Zealand

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How to use Walking Poles

How to use Walking Poles

A better way...

Bushwalkers know that walking poles provide extra stability to prevent falls and stumbles when the going gets rough. Most understand that poles take the load off tired legs (especially knees on steep descents) to make tougher walks easier.

However, not everyone is aware that the skilled use of poles when bushwalking can also improve general health and fitness.

The health and fitness benefits that poles provide can be significant - enough to reduce the need for health care! That's why some European health insurers pay for their clients to attend training courses in pole walking technique.

Some training is required because the skills that provide these health and fitness benefits are not instinctive. They are simple and very easy to learn, but they do need some explanation.

There are also some issues of safety - for example engaging properly with the wrist straps to avoid hand injury.

The Australian Bushwalker's Guide to Walking Poles is a "down to earth" illustrated guide that will help you get more out of your walking poles. To order your FREE copy, simply fill out the form below and we will send you one in the mail. We also provide bulk copies of this useful guide to be distributed to members of bushwalking clubs and other interested associations. Please contact us if your club would like copies.

How to use Walking Poles

The benefits

International research* over the last ten years has confirmed that the health and fitness benefits of walking are substantially increased by the skilled use of trekking or walking poles.

*Verified by more than 400 studies from universities, institutes of sport and various medical/health research establishments in Europe and the USA.

Informed health professionals and government agencies are now encouraging people to use poles when walking to increase cardiovascular benefits. But there are many reasons to use trekking poles. They actually provide the skilled bushwalker with at least six significant benefits:

  1. avoid injuries
  2. reduce wear/damage to lower joints
  3. prevent back pain/injury
  4. increase exercise
  5. improve posture
  6. enhance the enjoyment of walking

Just using poles with common sense will provide a few of these advantages, but some skill training is required to gain ALL of the available benefits.

1. Risk of Injury

Even minor injury can disrupt the pleasure of regular recreation and exercise. Bushwalkers always avoided falls by grabbing a stick during steep descents or at a creek crossing. Trekking poles are strong, reliable, lightweight “sticks” that don’t break at the critical moment and are always "on hand" for immediate use. Regular pole use develops skills that can almost eliminate the risk of injury from falls or stumbles.

2. Wear and Tear

Poles reduce impact loads on the legs by about 5 kg when walking on level ground and about 8 kg when on an incline. This reduction in stresses on the lower joints significantly reduces wear and risk of injury to the knees, feet, ankles and hips - common sites for the debilitating damage that (too often) forces otherwise fit people to give up their bushwalking.

3. Back Pain

Walkers tend to lean forward. The lean develops more with increasing fatigue. Carrying a backpack creates more lean to bring the load over the weight bearing forward leg. Weight is then being supported by a bent spine with the potential for back pain and injury. Trekking poles introduce a forward and lifting force from below and behind that balances things. Posture becomes more erect. The straight spine is more comfortably able to safely carry the load.

4. Exercise Benefit

Regular walking engages about 35% of the muscles in the walker's body. That increases to 90% when walking with poles. This results in a 20% increase in oxygen use and blood flow without increased exercise intensity. Increased blood flow is the main reason why walking exercise reduces heart attack risk and helps avoid the onset of dementia in later life. Trekking poles make a good exercise 20% better. Engaging the upper body also broadens the exercise to add more to general fitness - upper body muscle tone, circulation, weight control, etc.

5. Posture

Trekking poles encourage a more upright stance to improve respiration and aspects of general health associated with better posture. The more erect bearing also seems to improve the walker's general sense of well being.

6. Walking Enjoyment

Poles ease leg muscle effort by sharing the workload with muscles in the upper body. The pain of leg muscle damage is significantly reduced. Pain is also reduced in the lower joints - the feet, ankles, knees and hips. By reducing injury risk from a fall or stumble, poles allow the walker to feel more relaxed, to engage better with the environment and to enjoy the social aspects of walking more.