Want to hike with less joint soreness? Try hiking or trekking poles!

My very fit 81-year-old mother-in-law turned me on to trekking poles and I can’t stop raving about them. She’s unstoppable on them. She just completed a 26-mile walking marathon with them and she’s signed up for another. This from a woman who had stopped taking daily walks because she wasn’t feeling as strong as she once did. Now we can’t keep up with her.

Leki Kumara Hiking Poles
Leki Kumara Hiking Poles

Witnessing the dramatic improvement in her physical activity was enough to make me try them,  and it’s all I can do to stop myself from gushing about them to everyone I meet. (To all my friends who have had to listen to me even as your eyes glazed over, sorry….) I went online and got a good set of

I went online and got a good set of Leki Kumara Trekking Poles for a great price. My mother-in-law gave me a ten-minute training session and an article to read and I was off. Now I use them everywhere – sidewalks, paved or gravel roads and on the trails. They make it easier to go on long hikes and tackle steeper terrain with much less fatigue, which has opened up all kinds of new possibilities.

They’re amazing. Almost since day one, my sore joints were gone. Really gone – and that’s saying a lot since I am one of those people who has mainlined ibuprofen for years.

  • I feel stronger when hiking on downhill slopes
  • My knees no longer ache so much that they wake me up at night.
  • My hip doesn’t hurt the next day after I’ve done 8- or 9-mile hike like it once did.
  • I used to take 3 ibuprofen two-three times a day. Now I rarely take it.

Could hiking poles really make me pain-free so quickly? After doing some research, here’s what I found:

Trekking poles reduce the impact on your joints, legs and feet. According to 1999 study in The Journal of Sports Medicine, trekking poles can reduce compressive force on the knees by up to 25 percent.¹ Several hikers I’ve met say the poles have made it possible for them to keep up their hiking regimen because they make such a huge difference when hiking downhill.

Trekking poles engage your upper body for a total body workout. Trekking poles make you walk with better posture and get your upper body get engaged so subtly you don’t really notice it. More muscle engagement = more calories burned. According to the Leki website, you’ll burn up to 40% more calories than regular walking without poles.

Trekking poles add balance and stability for uncertain walkers. I gave my 77-year old mom a pair for her birthday and she took them like a duck to water. Turns out she was feeling unsure on her feet and afraid of falling. As a result, she was staying at home more. Now she’s using them on walks through the neighborhood, on errands, even at the airport. She’s in a better mood now that she’s gained some of her independence again.

Trekking poles are fun to use, and they’re handy for more than walking. Just last week I was finishing up a two-hour fitness hike with Charlie, a member of our hiking group, a transplant from New Jersey. It was hot. We were on a rugged trail that offered great camouflage for snakes, but what the heck, I was with someone who’d walked it many times. I trusted his judgement. He said he’d heard but never seen a rattlesnake on the trails in the two years he’d been in Alamogordo.

On the way back, we walked straight into a nice, big, greenish diamondback, coiled and ready to strike. He blended right into the bushes next to the trail. We froze for a moment and then my new hiking pal started throwing rocks at it.

Realllly? Rocks? Then I stopped and thought, “Wait a minute, he’s from New Jersey, not exactly rattlesnake country – why did I automatically trust that he’d know what to do?” I stuck my poles out in an attempt to distract the snake and beat a hasty retreat to a safe zone where I waited for him to stop throwing rocks.

Seriously, I love the trekking poles for fitness and for navigating in tough terrain. And who knows, I might even stop a bear with them…

 

¹ http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/a/11089/Ten-Reasons-for-Trekking-Poles 

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