Hiking pole chat

Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by gixer, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    The are quite a few studies on pole use and biomechanical efficiency; well in our library catalogue anyway.
    Who wants to do the definitive literature review :D?
  2. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    I could do the pre-amble.


    Some other bugger can do the references :cautious:
  3. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Sooo jealous, always wanted to do a handstand :bag:

    I realise i'm not going to change peoples minds, to be honest i don't want to
    The whole purpose for the tread was to try and get some hard measurable data

    For me, my use of hiking poles is pretty specific, no data either way is going to change my use
    So i really don't have a horse in this race on either opinion

    To sum up so far it seems that the main advantages offered so far

    1/ Reduce impact of leg joints

    The physiological aspects of what is needed to support a high proportion of your body weight on outstretched arms for hours on end interests me on this
    I don't see how it's possible for the average hiker to have the upper body strength to take any noticeable support for extended periods of time
    Be good to be convinced otherwise :thumbsup:

    2/ Stability
    As millions of people have been walking unpaved roads for 10's of thousands of years so far i think this is more a psychological crutch rather than a real one (pun intended)
    I'd also bring in the above about upper body strength being up to the task of supporting us
    I do accept that with stream crossing and the like they will offer some stability though

    3/ Propulsion

    Way i see it so far is, nothing is for free, if we are providing propulsion with out upper body, from my admittedly very basic test my heart rate was higher using 1 pole
    Be great to see some data or studies on this though

    4/ Injury

    As people are still getting injured using hiking poles, it's a certainty they don't stop injuries
    Seems some folks are convinced it prevents some injuries though
    As said, i think this is anecdotal as people do walk without hiking poles without falling over or getting injured
    Also worth considering the injuries that are caused by poles when they break, certainly this is few and far between, but there are cases where people have been injured by falling on a broken hiking pole
    Can't see it being possible to get any data either way on this, be happy to be proved wrong though
    Clare likes this.
  4. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    It's a inanimate object i don't have a preference either way

    These studies hiking related or cross country skiing Ed?

    I'd be interested to read anything if it's available on-line :thumbsup:
    Clare and edh like this.
  5. Fair Weather Camper

    Fair Weather Camper Thru Hiker

    If you should fall over, after having increased your bone density either by using poles (perhaps)

    Or from doing handstands (definitely measurable - there is data somewhere)

    You are less likely to sustain a bone fracture.

    My poles help me sustain my physical balance.

    I have other 'crutches' to maintain the equilibrium of my psyche :angelic:
  6. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Pretty much hiking.

    You can find some if it via Scholar; but not read it all - some is pay walled if you are not part of a research institution.
    gixer likes this.
  7. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    1/ For me, the impact is lessened on the leg joints on step downs because I can make the movement much smoother through taking some of the weight on the pole, so my foot lands with less impact. It was less necessary when I was younger :(
    4/ People are still getting killed in car crashes but I choose to wear a seat belt :cool:
  8. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say. Poles don't make you go further or faster in themselves (I can't see them making Usain Bolt run the 100m quicker), they just spread the load in a way which can increase stability, reduce the stress on individual body parts and provide more of an all-round workout. I think I read somewhere that the typical load shifted from the lower to the upper body by using poles is between 5% and 10% (depending on terrain and gradient and technique). Not enormous, but the effect is most pronounced on steep downhill sections because the burden on the knees in particular is so great that a 5%-10% reduction makes a significant difference.

    @WilliamC is right about the age thing. Unfortunately, by allowing our knees to take a pounding in our youth (as I did) we simply accelerate their degeneration. So, paradoxically, by not using poles when we feel we don't need them, we end up needing them sooner than if we'd started using them earlier (as it were). Prevention is better than cure.

    @gixer's 'Badge of Honour' point has a certain resonance though. I don't care for the way poles make me look like a hiker (it's an image thing and I shouldn't really be bothered). Perverse I know. I prefer to think I'm using my tent supports as walking aids.
    Toby, JKM and cathyjc like this.
  9. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Trail Blazer

    I use my hiking staff for stability when needed, which is only now and then. Unlike the ancients, I don't do much hiking on roads, unpaved or otherwise. I suspect the ancients did little mountain climbing, too. In any case, I am convinced that the chief danger in outdoor activities like hiking is, for a person my age, is falling. On the other hand, I have only had falls resulting in injury while I was at home. So I think I'd rather take my chances out there armed only with my trusty hand-hewn stick of unknown wood, among the stickers and briers, the poison oak, the creeks and the muddy trails where the deer, the foxes and the beaver live. It's safer out there.
  10. Jon jons

    Jon jons Summit Camper

    I just see them as poles that some people use and others don't. Guess it's just down to choice. I only find them useful at pitch up time but I'm an individual, we all are. :)
  11. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    Jon jons and Ken T. like this.

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