Saturday, April 1, 2023

POLES FAQ: Can I become dependent on using poles? Yes

When using poles, do we lose some ability to use balance muscles?  Do we become dependent on them?

We believe it IS possible to become reliant on your poles.  They are helpful in so many ways for helping us enjoy the outdoors.  Is it a good idea to occasionally hike on a moderate trail without your poles?   This is a very personal decision made based on your ability, the terrain and your goals.  If you hike without your poles, we suggest:

  • Know the hike – try it first WITH your poles.
  • Plan a short journey, do less than you think you can the first few times you hike without your poles.
  • Be consistent.  Hike without poles occasionally but regularly to keep up your skills.

Cross Training: Understand that, by hiking without your poles, you’re giving up the upper body workout.  For instance, we might do a relatively easy hike without poles the day after we go sea kayaking or an upper body weight training class or session.

Hiking without your poles may give you a better sense of proprioception (where am I in space?), can  improve edging*,  and can enable you to be more aware of your feet and legs.   Hiking on uneven terrain can challenge, enhance and improve your agility and balance muscles.  You will use muscles differently than when you are hiking with poles.  Exercising in different ways is important for achieving YOUR optimal fitness.

When do WE use our poles?

  • When we know we need them
  • When we have no idea what we’re getting into.
  • When we want the total body experience
  • When hiking with someone stronger or faster (poles give us an “edge”)

* stay tuned for a spiffy post dedicated to Edging – an essential skill for all hikers and walkers 🙂


3 Responses to “POLES FAQ: Can I become dependent on using poles? Yes”
  1. Rick Brower says:

    We see many PCT hikers come through our shop in South Lake Tahoe, Lake Of The Sky Outfitters, many have warn down the tip of the pole, not sure in all cases how to remove them with out damaging them to replace them, any universal suggestions?

    • My beloved 12 year old LEKI poles have tips that are still super sharp. I ALWAYS use my rubber tips on pavement. I carry them with me. 🙂

      Worn out pole tips simply do not perform well on the trail. They don’t grab. If the model pole has a tip that is replaceable, then you’ll need to use a tool that can hold on securely enough to the tip end and pull or pull and twist while holding onto the lower section of the pole. Don’t worry about damaging the old tip, it’s done. You’re trying to protect the lower shaft from bending or breaking as you remove the tip.

      You might want your customers to sign some kind of waiver if you’re attempting this valuable service for them. If you do damage the section, they’ll need to purchase a replacement from you J so they can continue their hike.

      I contacted my buddies at LEKI to see if they have additional input. They do this service A LOT at venues like Trail Days for the A.T. I’ll keep you posted!


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