hikers walking with poles

Hiking poles: for or against?

When forming an opinion about whether or not to use hiking poles there are several factors to take into account. It’s an additional accessory that can cause some concerns that we will clear up in this article. Why use poles, how to walk with them and how to adjust poles? So many questions that we will try to answer.

Main concerns about hiking poles

You've decided that you need poles but you don't know which ones to choose. Some are foldable, others telescopic, some have a walking stick style handle, others are straight... We recommend you read our article to help you with your choice.

What are the benefits of walking with poles?

There are several significant benefits to walking with poles.

1/ Increase your balance and prevent falls

Hiking poles provide a certain stability and greater confidence when walking. They provide good support when tackling obstacles such as tree trunks or rocks or even for walking on slightly unstable and slippery terrain (snow, ice, rocks, clay, muddy paths or deep water). The primary cause of hiking accidents is slipping, so using poles helps you reduce the risk of injury thanks to the support tips.

2/ Protect your joints

By spreading the impact and load between your arms and legs. On the descent, they reduce the risk to your joints and act as shock absorbers for your knees, ankles, hips and spine. It has also been proven that using poles reduces the impact on your knees by 25%. They can also be really useful when climbing, especially to provide relief for your thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstring).

3/ Reduce effort

Spreading the effort between your arms and legs gives your legs some relief, especially when climbing. What’s more, your walk will be more consistent by using poles. This pace also helps to reduce the fatigue you feel.

4/ Push yourself forward

Mainly when climbing when you can use your arms to pull yourself up and thereby reduce lower muscle fatigue and decrease your heart rate.

Walk with one or two poles

Sometimes one pole is enough for "easy trails". However, remember to alternate hands regularly. Always using the same hand can cause injury as the body works differently with and without the pole.
Using two poles will give greater stability and be more comfortable on a trek lasting several days for example.

How to use walking poles correctly?

Walking with poles can cause some concerns. Yet it’s pretty simple as it doesn’t really change your walking style. Walk normally without keeping the poles too close to your legs and the movement will come quite naturally without the poles poking your feet. The poles extend your arms. When you move your right leg forward, the left arm also moves.

Note: You can walk with the hiking poles in store to see if you like it.

What is the right height for your walking poles?

Pole height can be calculated using the following formula: your height (in cm) x 0.68.
For example, for an individual that is 176 cm tall: 176 x 0.68 = 119.68. In this case, the perfect hiking pole height is 120 cm.
When you hold your pole correctly, your arm should form a right angle at the elbow.
You can place your hand on the lower part of the handle when climbing. This will be more comfortable during each push on the climb. This can be an efficient technique. However, it is not recommended to walk like this for too long as you no longer have support from the straps on your hands and handles.
On the descent, you can walk holding the knob on top of the pole. It is also recommended to remove the straps. In case of a fall this will prevent the risk of additional injury.

A selection of decathlon hiking poles

Easy adjust hiking pole MT100 comfort
Hiking pole with quick and precise adjustment MT500
Anti-shock hiking pole MT500

So, hiking poles: For or against?

Some additional advice

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