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Using poles when hiking

More and more hikers rely on poles to help them on their walks. But what is driving this trend? In this health tip we discuss the pros and cons of using poles when hiking.

First and foremost though, using poles when hiking is good for your health. We recommend them especially when going downhill, because they will cushion the impact on your knees and hip joints, as well as on your back. Particularly when you have a heavy pack, they will help to distribute the weight more evenly among the joints. Poles also help you to keep your balance when in rough terrain and make it easier to wind your way up slopes. In addition, you will benefit from a positive side effect on the legs, arms and upper body and from less strain on the leg muscles.

Adjust the length
Trekking poles have a telescopic feature that allows you to adjust the length as you like. Ideally your arms should form a right angle when you reach for the pole on flat terrain. You’ll need to extend them a bit when going downhill (depending on the slope) and contract them when going uphill.

Using the right technique
To fully benefit from the positive effect of your poles when you descend, place them parallel to each other and far in front of you. You should then tilt your upper body forwards and actively shift your weight onto the poles. Try to avoid taking very large steps because that will increase the force of the impact with each step.

Not always in use
On easier tours, leave the poles at home or keep them in your backpack, because using them continuously may weaken your sense of balance.

As a SWICA customer, you can get expert advice from the doctors and medical staff at the sante24 health advice helpline – free of charge, around the clock. On request, sante24 can also make a doctor’s appointment for you. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86


12 September 2018


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