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24 April 2021 CAN POLES HELP YOU WALK UPHILL?

CAN POLES HELP YOU WALK UPHILL?

The simple answer is YES but there are lots of pole types and it is important to understand the key features in order to find the ones which will provide you with the benefits you are seeking

If you only want poles for use on hills, then you might want them to be lightweight and portable in a backpack for instance although in our experience, once you have used poles for hills, you will start to use them on less steep terrain too. In that case, you need to decide whether you want to use them for stability, weight bearing or propulsion

We will explore each of these in more detail as it will help you to understand the different pole types and which might suit your needs.

One thing we would like to mention first though…..at WALX we are NOT fans of using one pole so this article is based on the use of two poles as that is the best way to harness the power of the whole body and to avoid injury too.

NORDIC WALKING POLES

Nordic walking poles are typically used for propulsion and an upper body workout but this does not mean you can’t use them to go up hills. On a steep incline you would use them differently in that you would place further forward than when Nordic walking and more vertically too. This enables you to use the upper body to help with the climb almost as an ice climber might use an axe only not by placing them above your head!

In this scenario the Nordic straps would not be used other than for comfort and it is really important to unclip them when heading back down a hill as a stumble or fall can result in thumb or wrist injury if you don’t. The Fizan Fitness Alu are a good all round moderately priced pole which can be used for Nordic walking and general hiking too

Strapless fitness walking poles like the urban 300 can provide amazing Nordic walking style propulsion on all terrains plus the unique ‘core ledge’ helps massively uphill. There is no need to upclip on steep declines either but they are not as lightweight as many trekking poles

TREKKING OR HIKING POLES

More and more of these are now sold in pairs these days and the handles are often moulded for comfort. Typically the straps are not designed for propulsion but can help provide some wrist support (if used correctly) and the poles will help with uphill walking. Our favourite is the Leki Tremalzo due to the fact they break down into three parts for popping in the backpack when not required.

TRAIL RUNNING and SPEED HIKING POLES

These super lightweight, highly portable poles are designed to be used when needed and folded away when not, so although designed for those who are looking to move fast over rugged terrain, they are also a great (if expensive) option for those who like technical kit. Typically carbon and with adjustment mechanisms that enable the poles to collapse but not slit into separate sections, they are ideal for the walker/runner who does not want to use them for the whole outing. The ultimate trail pole is the Leki Micro Trail vario which has nordic style straps, is adjustable for height and folds down with a simple action so it can be done on the go.

A couple of things to note with hill walking is that it is sometimes a good idea to adjust the pole height for long uphill climbs and lengthening when dropping back down. Some poles actually have a grip on the pole shaft to negate the need to do this.

Finally if you are looking for a totally multi functional pair of poles you can’t go wrong with a pair of the Gabel Fusion which come with a variety of straps and rubber ‘paws’ for trekking and Nordic walking.

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