Trekking poles are quite popular among European hikers. In the late 90s, trekking poles started to gain popularity in the American outdoor scene as well. While poles help hikers maintain balance and have ancillary purposes (like supporting single-wall tents and tarp-tents), they serve an orthopedic function as well.
A 1999 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine found that using trekking poles while descending a 25 percent grade saves your knees up to 25 percent of the body shock. A similar study reported that while on flat ground, trekking poles saved up to 5 percent of the shock on your knees. These studies aside, taking a walk with poles versus without poles immediately gives you a different feeling of shock on the knees.
Using trekking poles will ultimately reduce the weight you are carrying on your back. The weight will be more evenly transferred throughout your body, and not just concentrated on your hips, legs and back. Roughly the weight of one human arm is reduced by using poles, and by pushing on the poles, additional weight is transferred.
Using trekking poles improves your posture while hiking through the woods. Some backpackers take on a hunched gait while walking due to a heavy pack. With correctly fitted poles, you'll be able to stand straighter and taller. With the weight off your back and shoulders, you can carry yourself in a better position throughout the day---resulting in less fatigue, fewer injuries and greater pleasure.
Article Written By Duncan Jenkins
Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.