The purpose of our benefits comparison page is to clarify and de-mystify the differences among the different styles of using poles.

How can poles help you achieve your goals?

  • In the left column, identify the benefit that resonates for you.
  • Look across to see which method of using poles seems appropriate for 3 things: your structure, your issues & your goals.
  • If, after carefully reviewing this page and watching either DVD you still have questions, please contact us.

Benefit

Hiking with Poles:

Be Outside, In Nature!

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Poles for Balance & Mobility:

Achieve & Maintain Mobility!

Nordic Walking (or Exerstriding):

Get great exercise!

Preserve your joints

Poles protect your knees.

Reduce Stress on Knees, ankles, hips, and spine especially on downhill.

Strengthen muscles that support the spine.

With OPTIMAL USE, upper body muscles also help prevent stress in hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders & neck.

Backpackers, trekkers, day hikers – anyone who enjoys the outdoors will feel the benefits. Kids leap & hop, adults improve performance; hiking with poles is a skill that will keep you moving, grooving & enjoying the outdoors.

People preparing for or recovering from hip or knee surgery can experience a profound “unweighting” of the joints by using their upper body muscles. This can reduce joint inflammation.

Poles may delay the need for knee surgery or replacement.

Fall prevention is the ultimate in joint preservation. Use poles pre-surgery to maneuver. Use poles post-surgery once you’re off crutches (for a more fluid gait) instead of a cane.

Nordic Walking is a terrific way to take an average daily walk to the next level.

Walking “with attitude” gets you moving and grooving without the joint pounding often associated with higher intensity exercise.

Recruiting the shoulders and spine while walking brings muscles into your activity. Joint lubrication from walking and an exaggerated reciprocal gait can be very helpful especially for arthritic joints.

Runners, X/C skiers and other athletes utilize Nordic Walking as cross training.

Balance

Tricky trails become easier with the stability poles provide on the trail.

Bi-lateral stability feels good. Often people who need stability the most take to poles almost instantly. It’s like their bodies sigh in relief at the instant bi-lateral stability.

Poles used behind in a propelling motion may not be as noticeable for balance, but you do have 2 more points of contact.

Confidence

As you build your skill, your confidence will grow and you may find yourself comfortable on trails that you previously avoided.

You’ll notice that people are less likely to bump you when you’re walking confidently with 2 poles, so crowded situations may be less intimidating.

When you feel the power of Nordic Walking, you feel like you’re flying.

We call it walking with ATTITUDE.

Benefit

Hiking with Poles

Poles for Mobility

Nordic Walking

Endurance

Using the poles properly on uphill significantly improves your power & endurance.

You’re using more muscles to do the same work, your arms and torso help to propel you up the hills.

Improved posture allows more efficient breathing, thereby improving endurance.

Tip: Learn your half way point & always turn around BEFORE you reach it. Poles are not magic, but they can be a tool to help you incrementally improve endurance.

Spread the work of the muscles over the entire body to experience greater endurance and more energy.

Posture & Cardio-pulmonary Function

Poles facilitate a more upright posture which improves breathing.

Many of the muscles used support the spine. This facilitates an elongation of the spine and, by strengthening these muscles on a regular basis, you might notice improved posture.

Walking with poles “self corrects” the posture allowing the lungs to reach greater capacity, which benefits cardio-pulmonary function and also increases endurance.

It’s an inspiration (pardon the pun ☺).

Adding energy to your walk can create a profound benefit for your cardio-pulmonary function.

There are many studies you can look at, but the purpose of this page is to simply state the benefits of each activity and to compare them.

Strength & Bone Density

Click here for a muscle chart

Feel the POWER of Poles!

Learn how to recruit your lats, pecs, obliques, serratus, triceps, rectus abdominus and more.

Using your arms and core muscles helps to build and condition your upper body as you hike.

Weight-bearing exercise is recommended for the prevention and management of osteoporosis.

Walking with poles provides weight-bearing exercise for the arms, spine, back, chest and core muscles.

Ditto both hiking & mobility.

Benefit

Hiking with Poles

Poles for Mobility

Nordic Walking

Exercise & Focus

Being in nature, exploring & enjoying trails is incredibly good for heart, mind & soul.

Poles enable people to exercise. Exercise can be a powerful anti-depressant.

Awareness of muscle recruitment reminds us to use optimal form. Focus is part of getting better exercise.

The data on exercise is unequivocal. Exercise becomes challenging as mobility declines. Even gentle walking with poles enables people with balance & mobility problems to enjoy daily exercise.

Focus is a huge benefit for people with mobility. Poles can bring us back to body-awareness and remind us to stay focused.

Walk out your door. Start moving & grooving with your Nordic Walking poles. You don’t need a park or a mountain.

Those looks you get are ENVY.

It's easy to go out for a walk and get DISTRACTED. With Nordic Walking poles, you don't forget that you're out walking for exercise.

Weight Management & Fat Burning

Hiking is great cardio-respiratory exercise. . There’s nothing quite like a steady up hill to get you into the fat-burning zone.

Moving vs. not moving can make a huge difference in weight management.

From LEKI website: Burn up to 40% more calories than regular walking without poles.

 

Gait

Poles encourage you to be more aware of your stride.

Poles facilitate a more fluid gait.

This includes the natural arm swing, reciprocal gait pattern and the torso rotation that is lost with a cane or walker.

In our mobility DVD we address gait issues brought on by painful knees/hips, longer leg length, uneven stride and more.

Once you improve your technique, you’ll notice that your stride lengthens. This is part of the progression as you learn to use your whole body to walk with poles.

 

Walk with ATTITUDE!

 

Benefit

Hiking with Poles

Poles for Mobility

Nordic Walking

Reduce risk

Poles are not a guarantee, but they can significantly reduce the risk of injury.

Whether you’re on trails, or crossing streams or on narrow hillside trails – learn optimal use so you can enjoy trails that you might avoid without your poles.

Falling is bad. (The “F” word: Falls, Fractures, Fatal.)

Use whatever aid you need to avoid falling. If you need a walker, then use it. If you need a cane, but are avoiding it, then poles might be just the thing for you.

Learn optimal use so the poles don’t become a hindrance. In the mobility DVD, we offer many tips on learning how to effectively and efficiently use poles for achieving & maintaining mobility.

See balance comment above

Swelling

Rhythmic movement of hands & arms results in gently pumping the muscles and stimulate the heart which can reduce swelling in the extremities. This gentle rhythmic pumping is especially helpful for arm lymphedema.

Ditto

Ditto

Save Time

Outdoors enjoying nature,
With your buddies,
While using your whole body!
It’s a win-win-win!

Take whatever time you need when you’re lacking balance or mobility.

Compared to walking, even brisk walking, more muscles are recruited in less time, making this a very efficient form of exercise.

Benefit

Hiking with Poles

Poles for Mobility

Nordic Walking

Equalize

When you hike with poles, you improve your performance. This gives you an “edge.”

If you have trouble keeping up with your kids (or grandkids), try poles and see how you feel.

Nordic walking is a fitness activity, a great way to get exercise.

No question, our stride lengthens and our pace increases - so if you have a buddy that you have a hard time keeping up with, make sure s/he does not use poles and you do!

Compliance

 

Do you need a cane, but shun it? Poles are sporty and do not have the stigma of a cane. Plus they’re fun and facilitate a more fluid gait.

Poles may enable you to get outdoors onto uneven sidewalks or gentle trails.

Keep a pair in your car so you can spontaneously enjoy a walk in the park. Remember, the looks you get are ENVY.

Poles are almost a status symbol in Europe.

Just because many Americans have not quite caught on to this fitness craze, please don’t let that stop you from trying something “new.”

Function

All the benefits above are important. Would you want to do without even one of them? Maintaining your ability to do what you want to be able to do

OR

Developing the ability to go beyond your current limits – to go on that trip you’ve always dreamed of is what learning this vital skill is all about.

What’s more functional than walking?

Maintaining the ability to walk is key to survival and enjoying life.

Brisker walking that comes with Nordic Walking may help you be active for more years.

The ability to enjoy your life is the epitome of function.

Walk for your health!

Walk for your life!

Feel the Power!

Benefit

Hiking with Poles

Poles for Mobility

Nordic Walking

Pro-prioception

Lift your feet! Scan the trail ahead and know when you need to pay special attention to your footing.

Poles can help you to look around at the glories of nature but they don’t take the place of care and attention.

Keep your distance; see the Pole Tips page for some Etiquette Tips.

Using poles may help you “listen to your body.” Knowing where you are in space is critical for balance & mobility.

Learning optimal technique helps with pole placement. As with any new skill, learn optimal technique so you can feel the many benefits.

Be aware! You now have 2 long poles in your hands.

Don’t stab your buddies!

Your Comments

What do you notice when you hike with poles?

How do poles enable you to maintain your mobility?

Are you out there exercising and feeling your power?

Why Trekking Poles??  from LEKI:

The Balancing act:

As bipeds we human beings spend a tremendous amount of energy maintaining our balance while walking or even standing. If you think about it we balance our torso and upper body with just two points of contact with the ground, our feet. This balancing act can be aided by the use of a trekking pole. Not only is balance and posture improved by using a trekking pole but the knees and lower back experience less strain. There are other benefits as well:

Safety and Impact reduction

  • Poles function as extra legs on uneven terrain preventing injuries
  • Trekking pole users are less likely to lose their balance reducing stress fractures and sprains
  • Knee strain is reduced especially when hiking downhill.
  • With each pole plant, the user is removing 3% - 5% of the impact from each step.

Improved Posture

  • By using a trekking pole you improve your posture while walking or hiking.
  • This becomes more significant when carrying a daypack or backpack on your back. The more upright your posture, the more air gets into your lungs so breathing is maximized.

Personal Notes:

Bob started using trekking poles to condition his upper body. He was a cross country ski instructor and noticed that his upper body was not in top condition at the start of the season. His legs were fine because he hiked and mountain climbed. Once he started using poles for hiking, he noticed significant difference at the beginning of ski season.

Bob taught me to use poles to get back on the trails after knee surgery. They’ve saved my knees and I’ve loved feeling the benefits I list above. The techniques we teach are progressive ways for people to learn to use their poles and bodies optimally – whether for hiking or walking or mobility.

We’re interested in hearing your comments.

The “lubrication” comment came from a pole buddy who, at 88, still enjoys hiking with his poles.

Jayah Faye Paley, AdventureBuddy #1

Gary-N-Guten-MD-Orthopedic-Surgeon

Gary N. Guten, M.D. Orthopedic Surgeon & Author
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