Saturday, July 20, 2019

ACE Trainers: POLES Seminar & Waterfall Hike, Rocky Mountain National Park

On June 11, 2011, I’ll be teaching a POLES for Hiking Field Seminar at Rocky Mountain National Park.  We’ll explore roaring waterfalls as we hike, learn and explore.  This is a magical trail and a wonderful place to learn skills that enable people to achieve the many benefits of hiking with poles.

This class is offered thru the Rocky Mountain Nature Association for anyone who loves to hike.  In addition, ACE-certified personal trainers can get .8 credits for this class by contacting me thru this blog for more info.

Pole Walking: Walking with Attitude, Walking YOUNG

As we age, we can lose or reduce spine function.   Using poles for walking and hiking enables us to use our upper body muscles to help preserve our joints.   Spine function can be restored. This is done because, when we walk with poles, we appear to walk as we did when younger – with attitude.   We are using muscles which support AND lengthen the spine.   Walking with attitude – with purpose – is the natural walking pattern.   It’s called reciprocal gait. It’s the diagonal pattern of opposite arm and leg.   When this occurs, the spine is able to ROTATE. This spinal rotation feels good, looks good and is very healthy.

Walking with poles recruits core muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, lower trapezius and oblique muscles.   These core muscles, when used, strengthen.   When optimal posture and form are used, the spine lengthens.    Gravity acts,  the spine compresses, we get shorter.   Using poles actually can reverse this process – the spine lengthens and elongates.

All of this assumes a natural arm swing. The arm swing is part of the spinal rotation and muscle recruitment. Learning optimal use of poles is key to achieving these benefits.   Beware fads or techniques that involve elbow pumping.   Repetitive movement of a joint can cause stress.   Repetitive movement especially of an elbow joint can cause tendonitis.   Anything that does not look natural or like walking “with attitude” needs to be approached with caution.

  • As you walk, think of walking with purpose or focus.
  • Think of a lovely sachet or of strutting.
  • One lady said, “Oh you want me to walk Sassy!.”  YES!
  • Whatever works for you, know that you cannot rotate too much.
  • It only looks like you’re walking YOUNG.

Regain the vibrancy of youthful walking – learn to walk optimally with poles and Enjoy the Outdoors!

 

 

As we age, we can lose or reduce spine function.  Using poles for walking and hiking enables us to use our upper body muscles to help preserve our joints.  Spine function can be restored.  This is done because, when we walk with poles, we appear to walk as we did when younger – with attitude. We are using muscles which support AND lengthen the spine.  Walking with attitude – with purpose –  is the natural walking pattern.  It’s called reciprocal gait.  It’s the diagonal pattern of opposite arm and leg.  When this occurs, the spine is able to ROTATE.  This spinal rotation feels good, looks good and is very healthy.

Walking with poles recruits the latissimus dorsi and oblique muscles.  These core muscles, when used, strengthen.  When optimal posture and form are used, the spine lengthens.  Gravity causes people to get shorter – the spine compresses.  Using poles actually can reverse this process – the spine lengthens.

All of this assumes a natural arm swing.  The arm swing is part of the spinal rotation and muscle recruitment.   Learning optimal use is critical to achieve these benefits.  Beware fads or techniques that involve elbow pumping.  Repetitive movement of a joint can cause stress.   Repetitive movement especially of an elbow joint can cause tendonitis.  Anything that does not look natural or like walking “with attitude” needs to be approached with caution.

As we age, we can lose or reduce spine function. Using poles for walking and hiking enables us to use our upper body muscles to help preserve our joints. Spine function can be restored. This is done because, when we walk with poles, we appear to walk as we did when younger – with attitude. We are using muscles which support AND lengthen the spine. Walking with attitude – with purpose – is the natural walking pattern. It’s called reciprocal gait. It’s the diagonal pattern of opposite arm and leg. When this occurs, the spine is able to ROTATE. This spinal rotation feels good, looks good and is very healthy.

 

 

 

Walking with poles recruits the latissimus dorsi and oblique muscles. These core muscles, when used, strengthen. When optimal posture and form are used, the spine lengthens. Gravity causes people to get shorter – the spine compresses. Using poles actually can reverse this process – the spine lengthens.

 

 

 

All of this assumes a natural arm swing. The arm swing is part of the spinal rotation and muscle recruitment. Learning optimal use is critical to achieve these benefits. Beware fads or techniques that involve elbow pumping. Repetitive movement of a joint can cause stress. Repetitive movement especially of an elbow joint can cause tendonitis. Anything that does not look natural or like walking “with attitude” needs to be approached with caution.

 

 

New Facebook Page for people who love to walk and hike with poles

I just created a new Facebook Page for people to use as a FORUM for asking questions, discussing how poles enhance their outdoor experiences and help them achieve their goals.

Please check it out and click the LIKE button to enjoy:  FaceBook Page for Pole Walkers

Save your Knees: Benefits of using poles for hiking and walking

With OPTIMAL USE, you can achieve ALL these BENEFITS of using Poles for Hiking, Walking, Exercise, Balance & Mobility!

Win-Win-Win ~ Be in nature, connecting with your friends and family while getting a great workout using your whole body.

Improve Power, Balance, Control & Confidence ~ Confidence is the #1 benefit for many pole users.  It cannot be taught, but it is felt almost immediately and empowers people of all ages.

Preserve Joints ~ Reduce stress on knees, ankles, hips, and spine.  Optimal use helps to prevent strain on joints in the hands, arms and shoulders.

Fat Burning & Weight Loss ~ Experience faster, easier and more efficient calorie burning and energy use with poles because more muscles are recruited in less time.

Focus ~ Using poles reminds us that we’re getting great exercise.  The constant feedback we receive enables more consistent spinal rotation, power and attention to our bodies.

Improve Gait ~ Walking with 2 poles facilitates a more even, fluid and reciprocal gait.   People preparing for or recovering from joint resurfacing or replacement can help “unweight” a joint.

Increase Endurance ~ Spread the work of the muscles over your entire body to experience more energy and greater endurance for your hike or walk.

Improve Posture & Cardio-Pulmonary Function ~ Walking with poles “self corrects” posture allowing your lungs to reach greater capacity.  This benefits cardio-pulmonary function and helps to increase endurance.

Weight-Bearing Exercise – Build Core Strength ~ Weight-bearing exercise is recommended for prevention and management of osteoporosis.    Using poles while walking is a time-efficient way to get weight-bearing exercise.

Compliance ~ “Sporty” poles can be more empowering than a cane.

Lymphedema ~ Movement of hands & arms may facilitate reduction of swelling in hands during exercise.

Reduce Risk of Falling & Injury ~ Poles provide bi-lateral stability.

Equalize ~ Family and friends of uneven abilities can walk together – poles can give you an “edge” and help you keep up with your buddies.

Enjoy the Outdoors, Feel the Power ~ Venture onto uneven terrain with confidence and have more fun while hiking or walking!.

Achieve, Regain & Maintain Mobility ~ “ARMM” yourself with a vital skill for LIFE!

Restore & Maintain Spine Function ~ Walk with attitude and vitality.  Look and feel YOUNGER!

©AdventureBuddies.net ™

Hiking Tips: A few reminders for improving safety and footing on wet terrain

December 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Poles for Hiking, Trail Tips

Rocks and roots that are our friends in summer are treacherous in winter. The rains make many trails more accessible (vs.  rocky/slippery trails).  But leaf covered roots in the trail:  DEADLY!

  • We watch where we step and tend to slip/slide when looking at the magic around us.
  • About half way through the hike (and before any big downs), I tighten the laces my shoes.  This significantly improves my footing.
  • When I’m on really tricky terrain, I take my hands out of the straps of my poles and use the long foam grips.
  • Lots of downed trees blocking the trail.  It’s a great time to do our side plank over obstacles technique!  We’ve been practicing all year, now is the time we get to really USE IT!
  • We call obstacles in the trail and are careful not to smack our buddies with branches and twigs that swing back behind us as we pass.
  • Stream crossings: We take our time and remember our footing and stream techniques and tips.
  • Especially on wet narrow trails, we use LOTS of edging. On wet downs, lots of plunge step (focus on heels).  All these techniques are covered in detail in the Hiking DVD (terrain tips section)

FAQ: What kind of POLES should I buy?

November 24, 2010 by  
Filed under DVD Updates, Gear, Poles, Poles for Hiking

Learning about gear is an important aspect in mastering the skills necessary to achieve the many benefits of using poles.  Because models and features of poles change regularly, our hiking DVD does not address specific types of poles.
Our website endeavors to stay abreast of current models of poles.  We update the website as models and features change. The Pole Buyer’s Guide page on the site includes a comparison of pole features.  We discuss different grip materials, grip size, long foam grips, grip shape, straps, anti-shock features, baskets, rubber tips and more.

Our approach is simple.  We focus exclusively on top quality gear (yes, you get what you pay for) and let the user determine what feels best.  Like trying on shoes, we often put one pole in one hand and another model in the other hand, and let the user decide.  This instant feedback enables the user to feel, and us to see, how they perform.

To determine which poles best suit an individual, we look at 3 things, a person’s:  Structure, Issue & Goals

  • Structure deals with hand size, height, weight, etc.
  • Issues might include balance problems, arthritis in the hand, shoulder trouble, neck pain, etc.
  • Goals include whether a person wants to hike or walk or exercise as well as preferred terrain.

Every person is different. Determining which poles best suit a person can make a huge difference in the quality of the experience and how many benefits a person can achieve.  For people who have seen either DVD, we have a Pole Purchase Consultation Form.  You can fill it out (completely please) and we’ll call or email you to discuss what poles might best suit your body, your issues and your goals.

We hike with LEKI poles that are about 12 years old.  They have a lifetime warranty.    We take good care of them and they take good care of us!

Why optimal pole length improves performance on the trail

I recently saw a video on YouTube about how to set pole length.  It was beautifully presented.  But it was filled with information, presented as fact that is so contrary to everything we teach that I need to clarify what we teach and why.  There is NO CORRECT POLE LENGTH.  There’s only optimal length.

Our techniques are designed to help you use poles efficiently so that you can achieve the many benefits.   Nonoptimal technique can cause strain in your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders – even your neck. Learn how to avoid the “Death Grip.”  The thumb joint is fragile.  Reducing knee stress at the expense of a strained or damaged thumb joint is completely counterproductive.

Optimal pole length gives HIKERS 3 major benefits:

  1. On flat terrain, you get great exercise OR achieve ease of use
  2. On uphill, you improve endurance, posture and power
  3. On downhill, you’ll be at the optimal length to preserve your knees and improve your performance.

Optimal pole length gives people with mobility challenges benefits as well, which include:

  1. Enhanced mobility
  2. Optimal Posture

The traditional teaching on pole length is pervasive and consistent.  Everyone will tell you the same thing (as if every user was exactly the same) – set your poles at a 90 degree bend in the elbow.  Our training is completely, yet subtly different.  Every pole user is different; every person is different.  Walk around on flat terrain with your poles set at 90 degrees.  Then try our method, feel the difference, and decide what feels better for the joints of your hands, wrists, elbows and SHOULDERS.

Next post:  How to set starting (Baseline) pole length.

How and Why To Set Baseline Pole Length

About 15 years ago, we defined and created the term Baseline Length.  Baseline length is:

  • determined by your height, your goals and the terrain
  • your pole length for most of your flat and uphill hiking (you’ll extend the length for downhill and changing terrain)
  • set at a length designed to minimize strain in the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder and neck
  • measured by the angle of your elbow
  • how you set your poles at the beginning of the hike
  • the shortest length you’ll use that day
  • set first with the bottom section
  • can change based on the terrain, how you feel and your goals

Baseline length differs depending on your abilities and goals; it’s:

  1. longer for people who have mobility challenges (approx 80 to 90 degree bend of the elbow), facilitating more support for balance, and
  2. shorter (lower) for hikers (approx 100 to 120 degree bend of the elbow), facilitating ease of use on flat terrain and power on uphill terrain.

Hikers:  The basic 90 degree rule for baseline works against peak performance on the trail.  Why?

  1. Flat:  in order to bring the pole forward, you’ll have to recruit your shoulder joint.  Repetitive movement in a joint can cause strain.  A shorter baseline facilitates ease on flat terrain.
  2. Uphill:  Optimal baseline length on uphill gives you more power because the poles work with you in a more effective pushing motion.    Poles that are too long on uphill can more easily slip (stabbing your buddies).   Plus, it’s efficient –  you save time because you won’t have to change pole length from flat to uphill .

Why does everyone say 90 degrees?  Interesting question.  It’s certainly easier to communicate.  Also, people who do not adjust their (adjustable) poles, often find that 90 degrees is easier.  But biomechanically, once you feel the difference, you’ll have the option of more effectively recruiting your upper body muscles and we think you’ll never go back to 90 degrees.

To determine your baseline length, DO:

  • Place your hands correctly in the straps
  • Place your elbow directly by your side
  • Have your forearm straight out in front
  • Make sure the pole is straight up and down
  • Stand tall, in erect neutral posture
  • Relax your hand so that you can determine a more neutral position for your wrist

Contrary to what you may see or hear:  DO NOT hold the pole upside down on the bottom shaft to measure (yikes).  3 Reasons:

  1. It’s not an accurate reading for many reasons, including how tightly you use your straps
  2. It puts the pole strap in the dirt where it can pick up dirt that can chafe your hands.
  3. If you got poison oak on the lower section and then rub your eyes, yikes!

DO set your baseline length with the bottom section as long as you need to – but no longer than the stop max mark.  Extend the middle section only if your height requires lengthening to get the elbow angle you seek.  It’s nice if you can have a baseline length with the middle section closed so that you return to baseline quickly and easily by simply collapsing the middle section.  Note:  when purchasing poles, look to see how long the bottom section extends.  This can be a factor of whether the poles properly fit you.

DO NOT set both sections at equal lengths. Everyone says to do this, because it’s the position of maximum strength in the poles.  BUT, when do you need the maximum strength?  On steep downhill. You’ll have the middle section extended then anyway.   Plus, have you noticed that companies like LEKI give you a LIFETIME warranty?  It’s because their poles are STRONG.

Another reason not to do this:  By setting baseline length using both sections, you’ll need to extend both sections to get the maximum length you’ll need for steep downhill.  Set your bottom section at the beginning of your hike and then all your adjusting is done with the middle section.   That way you can adjust without taking your hands out of the straps. You cannot adjust the bottom section without taking your hands out of the straps so you’ll have to stop and fuss with your poles.

If you learn to adjust quickly and easily, then you’ll DO it. If you have to stop and take your hands out of the straps every time you want to adjust your poles, you won’t adjust them.  You will not be at the optimal length for the terrain you’re on.   3 Main Goals:

  1. Flat:  Ease of use
  2. Up:    Power & Endurance
  3. Down:  Support for your joints.

Baseline Length that is too long will

  • engage joints in the arm, increasing risk of joint strain
  • necessitate shortening for uphill optimal performance

Baseline Length that is too short will cause you to reach into the poles and work against optimal posture.  Try different lengths, actually walk with poles that initially might feel too short.  See if you notice how, with a shorter baseline, the poles can more freely swing on flat terrain.

FAQ: Poles for Hiking: Are two poles better than one? Yes!

Using two poles enables you to use your WHOLE BODY while walking or hiking.

Using one pole can give you a little extra stability, but at a cost.   No matter how careful you are, using just one side of your body, can create and even reinforce imbalance.  When going downhill, placing one pole in front of you and twisting at the same time can create torque in your spine.  Going downhill, gravity creates load in your knees.  Using one pole can unilaterally relieve some of this pressure, but adds torque to your spine and potential stress in your shoulder and wrist joints.

With optimal technique using two poles, you strengthen upper body muscles and achieve both spinal rotation and elongation – very healthy for your spine.

On downhill, you’ll bilaterally recruit your upper body muscles, including pectoralis, rectus abdominus and biceps.  You’ll notice better balance and power.  Because you’re using more muscles, you’ll notice you have more endurance BUT will feel LESS exertion – this is SO cool!   Poles facilitate better posture which helps backpackers, hikers and people with balance problems.  Lots more benefits, way too many to blog.

Comprehensive description of the benefits of using two poles.

Trekking Pole Troubles: Taking poles apart for Travel and/or cleaning

Our prior post covered the two most common problems people have with poles.  We covered in detail troubleshooting poles (fixing them if they fail to tighten).  The other big problem people seem to have is  trouble taking their poles apart.
Our best advice:  Get over it! 🙂
Why?

  • People purchase poles based on their collapsed length.   While this can make sense, it often can mean getting non-optimal poles for your height, weight, goals & issues.  Taking poles apart almost always means they will fit into luggage.
  • Poles MUST be taken apart for cleaning.  Take good care of your poles and they will take care of you – please!
  • Poles MUST be taken apart if they get wet.  This is basic pole care 101.  Go hike in the rain – Yippee!   Ford a stream.  Use poles in the fog.  But, when your poles get wet, the inside of the shaft gets wet and just drying them off on the outside isn’t enough.  The pole shaft can corrode.  The fix is simple!  Take your poles apart and let them dry apart over night.  Voila!  Clean, dry, usuable poles.

I have a deep connection with my poles.  They’re 9 years old, they’re PERFECT and they’re my buddies!    I use them, I abuse them, AND I keep them clean and dry.  A good pair of poles often has a lifetime warranty and good poles (that fit your body, issues and goals) should last you a lifetime of hiking and exploring!

Happy Trails!

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