Trekking pole Science

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Trekking pole Science

Post by HCH » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:15 pm

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Science News

How Trekking-Poles Help Hikers Maintain Muscle Function While Reducing Soreness

ScienceDaily (June 3, 2010) — A study by academics at Northumbria University has shown for the first time that trekking-poles help hikers maintain muscle function while significantly reducing soreness in the days following a hike.


In the study, 37 physically active men and women were split into two groups of equal fitness and asked to hike up and down Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales.


One group was issued with and trained in the use of trekking poles while the other group made the climb unaided. Each group ate the same evening meal on the night before; they ate the same breakfast, carried similar weight in day packs and took the same scheduled rests during both the ascent and descent.


The participants' heart rates and their personal perceived exertion ratings were recorded during the hike. Then, at the end of the hike, and at 24-, 48- and 72-hour intervals afterwards, muscle damage and function were assessed through a variety of tests.


The results showed that there was significantly less muscle soreness in the group using trekking poles. This group demonstrated a reduced loss of strength and a faster recovery immediately after the trek compared to the control group. Self-rated soreness peaked at 24-hours in both groups but was significantly lower in the trekking-pole group, both at this point and at the 48-hour point. In addition, levels of the enzyme creatine kinase (which indicates muscle damage) were much higher at the 24-hour point in the non-pole group, while the trekking-pole group's levels were close to the pre-trekking levels. This shows that the muscle damage they were experiencing was negligible.


Pole manufacturers have suggested that trekking poles can reduce forces on lower-limb joints by as much as 25 %. However, the existing research has been restricted to the laboratory or to non-mountainous outdoor settings, such as running tracks, and has only focussed on biomechanical investigations into stress on the ankle, knee and hip. This is the first documented study into the effectiveness of trekking poles in the environments for which they were designed.


"The results present strong evidence that trekking poles reduce, almost to the point of complete disappearance, the extent of muscle damage during a day's mountain trek," says Dr Glyn Howatson, who conducted the study.

"Preventing muscle damage and soreness is likely to improve motivation and so keep people enjoying the benefits of exercise for longer. Perhaps even more advantageously, the combined benefits of using trekking poles in reducing load to the lower limbs, increasing stability and reducing muscle damage could also help avoid injury on subsequent days trekking. It is often the reduced reaction time and position sense, associated with damaged muscles that cause the falls and trips that can lead to further injury in mountainous or uneven terrain.


"These findings have particularly strong application for exercisers wishing to engage in consecutive days' activity in mountainous terrain."


I must say, I bought my 1st pair this year, some Leki's, and I am impressed on how they help me navigate rough land and cross streams.

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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by aa1pr » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:47 pm

As an avid skiier these are glorified ski poles but they sure do work.

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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by Ghost_Jaws » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:27 am

One of the biggest benefits to the poles IMO is stability. Plus you can use them as a fishing pole if you need to.
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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by KnightoftheRoc » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:49 am

This thread is nicely timed- I was just looking at a set of these things in Wally-World this weekend. These were "glorified ski poles", but I have heard from other people in the past that they were pretty useful. I'm debating the purchase price yet, as there are a ton of things on my 'buy' list yet.

However, being adjustable in height, and looking like a pretty sturdy build, I can't find fault in the product, looking them over in the store. I could see a lot of uses for them, aside from the intended one. Adjustable height makes them usable as tent poles, dropping the weight of the actual poles from the tent bag, but the sticks weigh more than the poles. Offsetting this increase would be the aid to the effort of humping around with them. The ones I looked at seem to be the same diameter as a normal cane, so an ice tip for a cane could be attached to them for snow/ice conditions hiking (which, if you find me doing, means the PAW has begun big time). The pointy tips could also be of some, albeit moderate to negligible aid in keeping critters at bay (pretty sure it would only piss off that grizzly, but might intimidate a dog sized or smaller critter). I suppose imagination would be your only real limitation.

I'm thinking of getting a set primarily for my fiance, who has ankle issues, and (as much as I love her) is the clumsiest person I've ever seen. These might help keep her upright longer.
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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by HCH » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:47 am

Watch steep and cheap.com. I found a pair of Lekis on there for 1/2 price. They have poles regularly on the site, but deals change every 20 minutes or so, so you have to watch.

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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by MikeM » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:22 am

I love hiking poles, the terrain of my area trails can best be described as "ankle breaking" and since the poles serve as shelter supports for all but one of my shelters (I even use them to prop up one side of my tarp with the hammock to make my "front porch"), I have another reason to use them.

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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by Dawgboy » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:56 am

I actually use an old break down type blind person's cane as a walking stick. 1 hand free and it's sturdy as hell. Pluss it folds up into a 12" length.
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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by Squirrley » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:22 pm

I started using trekking poles last year day-hiking. It was quite impressive; I was able to go up significantly steep sections of trail a lot faster than before and not even getting winded, compared to going up the same trail without the poles where I'd get winded and have to stop and rest every couple of minutes, not able to go as fast as I wanted.

another motivating factor in me getting poles was the shelter aspect, I was tired of trying to rig up my A-frame style tarp with one walking stick and trees or whatever the fuck.
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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by BobtheBreaker » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:12 pm

Bummer, no muscle damage=no muscle growth.
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Re: Trekking pole Science

Post by 111t » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:31 pm

BobtheBreaker wrote:Bummer, no muscle damage=no muscle growth.
You sure do work your arms as well as your legs! I find it makes me much more stable over rough terrain. My advice is to learn to hold them properly applying downward force through the strap, and letting them swing freely forward like a knee joint. Another rule of thumb that i found on the web that has seemed to bear out in my experience is to set the height so that when they're standing next to you the top is about 8 inches below your armpit. This seems to work ok for me over all but the most rugged steep terrain.
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