First let me clear out that by “hiking poles”, I mean hiking poles/staff/stick/trekking poles and everything that falls under the category. All of them are basically the same except the usability and pairing (Some comes in a pair and some as a single stick).
Now keeping the trivia on the side, let me tell you how hiking poles work to help your knees or hips and the scientific facts behind it.
What does the research say?
For the sake of this article, I’ve gathered a few research results to analyze whether using trekking poles makes it easier on your knees or not.
Apparently, all the researches said hiking poles or any type of staff/sticks can aid hikers to walk for long and high. Among them, the research result published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise of the year 2000 is most prominent.
In that article, it was reported that few volunteers offered to participate in the survey and it turned out that the ones who were using 2 poles had a longer stride and more frequent ones. Also, the energy consumption didn’t increase even though they were packed with 30% of their body weight, walking for an hour at 5 degrees of incline.
Another scientific journal, Journal of Sports Sciences of the year 1999 claimed that the volunteers who used two hiking poles while climbing downhill with 25 degrees angle are more comfortable climbing down than the ones who didn’t use any support at all. The study showed that despite having a 17 pounds weight on the back, the volunteers with hiking poles were able to walk with 20% less pressure on their knees.
The scientific researches and studies have shown that the hiking poles really helps in easing the effort required while walking or climbing.
From my experience
Yes, from my experience, I too can assure you that having a pair of hiking poles helps.
However, at first, I thought I could go without the poles as I’ve been to many trails where I didn’t need a pole or staff. Later, as I started visiting even tougher trails, I realized the hiking spots near my home didn’t actually need hiking poles but as I’m getting far from the home and as the altitude is increasing, I realized that I could have used a support. So I bought the hiking poles from Amazon.
Should I carry the hiking poles in all the hikes I go to?
I don’t think so.
I realized the importance of hiking poles very early. But even then, I didn’t carry my poles to every hike I went.
Mostly I used them when I know I’m going through an uneven terrain. However, many hikers use the poles while trekking in even land too. It doesn’t have anything to do with the knees. They have another reason to carry the sticks.
You see, when you walk for long without any support, you hand just stays down. That’s why, the blood flow from the hand to your heart can sometimes be disturbed, causing your hand to swell. Therefore, many hikers keep their hiking poles on their hand wherever they are going because these poles will keep their hands close to the heart, resulting in healthy blood flow.
Yes, your hiking poles will save your knees but as I seem to understand, you don’t need to carry it in every hike. Only when you are going on an uneven trail or you have a lot of baggage on the shoulder.