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Walking poles (Read 9589 times)
robstubbs
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Walking poles
Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:16am
 
Excuse the perhaps seemingly obvious question, but what are walking poles for and in peoples opinions should I get some ?

Most of my walking thus far has been of the less strenous and less hilly variety (well we're not overly blessed with hills in Hertfordshire).

I am planning on doing more hill walking and the onc place I can see them being of more use perhaps is in snow, in Scotland in April next year.  I'm just wary of getting something I'll never need that'll just be more to carry.

Thanks in advance,

Rob.
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Peter
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #1 - Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:45am
 
Poles are excellent for relieving pressure on the leg muscles. Descending a long steep hill can place a great deal of stress on the legs resulting in aches and pains for days afterwards. They are also useful for security in slippery conditions. I have also used them for probing marshy ground to test it before sinking several feet into a bog!

One pole should suffice most people, but it's a matter of taste. I only use one and then only on hills.
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Jake
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #2 - Nov 28th, 2008 at 4:52pm
 
Personally I only use a pole when carrying a heavy rucksack when going on a multi-day walk in the hills as it is very useful, as much for the legs as the back and also when crossing streams.
With a normal daysack I don't bother as I find them more of a pain. When crossing bogs I'd rather just get down to it, you can usually tell the worst bits by the vegetation and colours, and as seem to run most downhills anyway (well, free wheeling - far less stress on muscles but watch where your feet are going when get up to speed!) so poles are no use there.  That's just me however.

But as for using and carrying one, I'd certainly say there isn't any harm in carrying one in case you need it, they're so light and compactible now. Just never ever on flat walks...
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Andy
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #3 - Mar 11th, 2009 at 11:29pm
 
Sorry to dig up an old one folks but I now have evidence AGAINST walking poles which is sure to get some red faces going. Feel free to read on!

Since I've started working part time on a very large holiday park in Scotland I've noticed a pattern on walking related injuries. Most are the typical such as a sprain or hand injury etc but talking to locals there is an alarming amount of walking pole injuries.

A common issue with walking poles is arm, head and even face injuries.

When crossing rough ground feet become tangled with poles - result causing you to trip; maybe not everyone's going to admit this happening but I know it’s happened to all of us at some point including me many times. The main problem when this happens is your hands are passed through the strap which doesn't leave enough time to free them to save yourself.

We have even had one National park ranger state that prolonged KNEE injuries are actually caused by walking poles in this area. This alarming report is actually quite a simple one to understand.

A simple test I was told is to stand on bathroom scales in your boots with both poles in either hand. Now you may feel silly but the next bit will be even worse so make sure the house is empty! Try to imagine you are striding up a very steep hill with a strong pace, stride out your arms just as you would on the hillside pushing you up for half a minute or so then glance down at the scales once you have a rhythm.

The results were outstanding, clearly extra load was being placed on my knee joints, in fact up to 10kg at times when the pole was in the upstroke. This totally backed up what the ranger told me.

Some of you are aware that I suffered from a nasty knee injury back in 2005, my specialist told me "never" to go out in the hills without them afterwards but to be honest I still believe walking poles are new and a huge grey area at the moment to us all.

My conclusion talking to people injured and National park wardens is they are only beneficial when going downhill when the ground is fairly smooth and water crossing. Other than that they are nothing but trouble.
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Tony Maries
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #4 - Mar 12th, 2009 at 12:29am
 
I never heard of walking pole injuries but I believe what Andy says.
I started using poles in about 2000 after a knee injury.
The theory is that they take some of your body weight off the knees and offer a little bit of propulsion.
I have used them on and off since then and found that they only offer any effective help if you are carrying a heavy load on your back.
Even then they work best only on reasonably even ground, if the going is stony and rough and each step is different from the last they aren't much good to you.
I have never used the straps and I can imagine that they would be potentially dangerous if you fell.
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robstubbs
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #5 - Mar 12th, 2009 at 7:58am
 
With reference to Andy's post - Annecdotal evidence I would suggest and I have no doubts that there is equally annecdotal evidence out there of people injured, where use of poles would have prevented it.  I'm still unsure as to whether or not they'd help me, and more so my girlfriend.  She can be unsteady on her feet and they would at least help with that.

Rob.
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Andy
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #6 - Mar 12th, 2009 at 7:33pm
 
Guess you're right Tony, a heavy pack (60L & above) poles would offer some support. I did a few multi-day routes last summer with my 85L and have to admit they were beneficial.

It's just after seeing the scale test I was so shocked what extra load was being placed on my legs, it seems the faster or fitter you are the more the load on the knees.

I expected more people to jump on board with this latest news... guess everyone's in the bathroom with walking boots & poles tonight  Smiley
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snowdon_lady
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #7 - Mar 13th, 2009 at 8:31pm
 
I think you have to know how to use the poles for best effect if you have them, they need to be adjusted for going up and down hill for one. Also its not just the people who use the poles that can suffer injury....I have suffered the following by walking with people who use poles:

Being tripped up as they suddenly swing there poles out and in between your legs.....
nearly being spiked in the face by poles in a rucksack when going over stiles
Having poles thrown down on you when someone decides that they cannot use them for scrambling down!

Use your poles wisely!
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BH
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #8 - May 27th, 2009 at 6:27am
 
I'm a little clumsy, so I find my walking poles particularly useful when descending hills, just too steady myself.  Also useful for testing out bits of mud (i.e. am I going to sink in it etc).

But, I do find them to be a hindrance, I don't find them that easy to adjust and so its not like I can keep packing them away everytime a bit of a scramble comes my way.

My verdict is only get them if you need them.
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Dave_Lee
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #9 - May 28th, 2009 at 3:21pm
 
Unless you get an Osprey Exos rucsac with fast pole stowage facility without taking it off your back. Personaly cant be doing with them.
Dave.
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Jon Beeching
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #10 - May 28th, 2009 at 11:34pm
 
Ah one of my pet hates. Maybe hate is too strong a word but I do dislike poles rather a lot  Wink

My good lady does tend to rather rely on her poles which kind of winds me up a little, my days in the mountains are occompanied by a constant soundtrack of "clatter clatter" behind me.

It does concern me somewhat when she really puts all her weight on the poles, I guess they're designed and built to a certain standard and should be able to take a reasonable amount of weight but there are times that just one pole giving way could result in a real disaster.

Then of course there's the messing around with them when we come to a scramble or downclimb, they either just get in the damn way or there follows a bout of fiddling around trying to get them down and stow them away.

On the rare occasions when my lovely lady (bless) does decide she's going in front for a while, it's not unknown for me to come close to doing a pretty good impression of King Harold at the battle of Hastings thanks to a little wreckless swinging!

Mind you there were a few occasions in our early mountain walking days when we would have never found our way if it weren't for the highly unprofessional following of walking pole marks on rocks  Grin
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kEySTONe
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #11 - Jun 20th, 2009 at 12:44am
 
I've had poles strapped to my rucksack and totally forgot to use them on many occasions even on a 16 mile trek!. Next time I'll just kleave them at home. Grin
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JennyStarzzzz
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Walking poles
Reply #12 - Sep 29th, 2009 at 8:00pm
 
For many years I have used a walking stick.  It is about 5 long and weighs just over one pound.  Each year when I look at spending my gear budget the idea of getting treking poles comes to mind.  One concern has stopped me in the past.  With my walking stick, it is always the right length whether I am going up hill, down hill or level.  Is it necessary to be always changing the length of treking poles as the topography changes?  Is there anyone out there who has used both and can relate pros and cons?
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Re: Walking poles
Reply #13 - Sep 30th, 2009 at 2:51pm
 
The general advice seems to be to lengthen the pole for descent - which is fairly easy with extendable poles and I suppose they wouldn't need changing that often during a days walk anyway.
My wife wouldn't be without her pair of poles even on flat ground.
I carry a single pole and use it occasionally on descents but in all honesty it spends more time it my backpack and more often than not never gets used.
I have tried two poles but cannot get on with them at all.
I am wary of getting my feet "tangled up" and tripping but have found one to be useful on steep descents as seems to take some of the weight off my knee and act as a "steadier"
My wife put her foot in a hole and stumbled last year - all of her weight went onto the pole and saved her from a fall - the pole ended up bent and now won't straighten out so it absorbed the potential impact and we think saved her from a nasty fall.
I should say here that she is not overweight  Grin Grin.

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biabPentFleni
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Walking poles
Reply #14 - Nov 11th, 2009 at 7:02am
 
I have been living in Germany for about 3 years now and have noticed these constant "gangs" of about 5-15 middle aged women walking in groups using ski poles.  Its not like they are walking in rough terrain or up hills... just wandering the streets of Hannover.  What is the deal?? Are they worried that it might start snowing soon?  Ive seen these poles in stores too... they can cost a couple hundred Euro  Can some one enlighten me as to whats the deal with these poles???
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