Topic

Trekking Pole Science


Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Trekking Pole Science

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 25 posts - 51 through 75 (of 92 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #1618036
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    I didn't mean benefit on an individual level. As mentioned above, trekking pole use should not be a theology. If they don't benefit you, then there is no point in using them. But to apply your personal experience to the general population is fallacious given both the research cited here as well as the multitude of positive experiences noticed by a collective of individuals. It's kinda like saying "I don't benefit from reading glasses, therefore they are of no benefit to anyone."

    #1618037
    Dondo .
    BPL Member

    @dondo

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    If I manage to put enough pressure on the pole(s) to help my legs my neck/shoulders hurt.

    Try Pacerpoles. They're a whole different animal.

    #1618038
    Larry De La Briandais
    BPL Member

    @hitech

    Locale: SF Bay Area

    I have no doubt that others find them useful. I just don't. I do have to admit that I find them silly looking. But that may change if "everyone" starts using them. ;^)

    #1618040
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    It's also not the first research showing physiological benefit:

    Effects of hiking downhill using trekking poles while carrying external loads.

    Bohne M, Abendroth-Smith J.

    Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455, USA. [email protected]
    Abstract

    Hiking is a recreational activity shown to offer significant positive effects on the human body. However, walking downhill and external load carriage have both been shown to increase the risk of musculoskeletal pain and injury. The use of hiking poles has been demonstrated to be successful in reducing forces placed on the lower extremities. However, whether these effects can be observed with load carriage has not been examined. PURPOSE: The purpose of this research was to examine the effectiveness of pole use in hiking downhill while carrying different external loads. METHODS: Fifteen experienced male hikers volunteered. Conditions included hiking with and without the use of hiking poles for each of three backpack conditions (no pack, day pack (15% BW), and large expedition pack (30% BW). Ten trials were completed for each condition, for a total of 60 trials per participant. All conditions were performed in a random order. The net joint moments and power at the ankle, knee, and hip, as well as the net joint forces at the knee were examined statistically using a 2 x 3 (poles x packs) repeated-measures ANOVA, with a family wise alpha level of 0.05. RESULTS: A significant reduction was observed for the sagittal plane moment at each of the joints in the lower extremity with pole use. Reductions were also observed in the peak power absorption for the ankle and knee. These results held true across pack conditions, as packs only resulted in a larger power generation at the hip. CONCLUSION: A reduction in the forces, moments, and power around the joint, with the use of poles, will help reduce the loading on the joints of the he lower extremity.

    Muscular and metabolic costs of uphill backpacking: are hiking poles beneficial?

    Knight CA, Caldwell GE.

    Department of Exercise Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003, USA. [email protected]
    Abstract

    PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study was to compare pole and no-pole conditions during uphill backpacking, which was simulated on an inclined treadmill with a moderately heavy (22.4 kg, 30% body mass) backpack. METHODS: Physiological measurements of oxygen consumption, heart rate, and RPE were taken during 1 h of backpacking in each condition, along with joint kinematic and electromyographic comparisons from data collected during a third test session. RESULTS: The results showed that although imposing no metabolic consequence, pole use elicited a longer stride length (1.27 vs 1.19 m), kinematics that were more similar to those of unloaded walking, and reduced activity in several lower extremity muscles. Although pole use evoked a greater heart rate (113.5 vs 107 bpm), subjects were backpacking more comfortably as indicated by their ratings of perceived exertion (10.8 vs 11.6). The increased cardiovascular demand was likely to support the greater muscular activity in the upper extremity, as was observed in triceps brachii. CONCLUSION: By redistributing some of the backpack effort, pole use alleviated some stress from the lower extremities and allowed a partial reversal of typical load-bearing strategies.

    #1618047
    Andrew Lush
    BPL Member

    @lushy

    Locale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs

    Roger wrote:
    >>There are a LOT of Australian bushwalkers well over 60 years of age who have never used trekking poles. In fact, up until about 10 years ago they were relatively unknown in Australia.

    >>It's only the young novices who buy them here in Australia. They fall for the marketing spin. The older walkers (with 40 years of experience) know they don't need them. Anyhow, you'd look rather silly in our scrub with poles!

    Woah there! Roger you've been a long time "anti-poler" both on this site and here in Australia. I have always felt that your rather dogmatic stance condemning trekking poles has been a little unfair to those of us who do use poles.

    The numbers of people using poles here in Australia is increasing and there are many of us who have used them for many years. To categorise and then dismiss all who do so as "young novices" is hardly helpful.

    As so many people keep constantly pointing out, trekking poles make walking easier and more enjoyable for them. It is a personal choice. If people don't want to use them – fine, don't use them. But there's no need to make those who do feel uncomfortable about doing so.

    Trekking poles are a hot-button issue. Which is strange. No other piece of gear causes so much controversy. Those who don't use them seem to have an evangelical zeal to save us benighted polers from our deluded state.

    The bottom line should be (as it is with any other bit of gear): if it works for you use it, if it doesn't don't. And whatever choice you make, it should then be respected by others as an informed and considered choice.

    #1618052
    Larry De La Briandais
    BPL Member

    @hitech

    Locale: SF Bay Area

    The only problem I have with people using trekking poles is when they fling them about without regard to those around them. Had one such individual almost whack me with his. If I hadn't moved he would have. This was on the lower asphalt portion of the mist trail in Yosemite. Obviously, not everyone is so careless. ;^)

    #1618053
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "The bottom line should be (as it is with any other bit of gear): if it works for you use it, if it doesn't don't. And whatever choice you make, it should then be respected by others as an informed and considered choice."

    Well put, Andrew!

    #1618057
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    LOL. We can add trekking poles to the list of "no go" topics around here. It can join guns, drugs, healthcare, and all those other subjects which seems to polarise folks. Who'd have thought???

    #1618058
    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member

    @here

    Locale: Right there

    With Roger C's comments I have to wonder if he has ever tried them. Or just poo poos the whole idea.

    #1618072
    Peter Rattenbury
    Member

    @mountainmule

    Locale: Australia

    I agree with your comment Andrew. I use poles and expect they will help me hike well into my dotage. Horses for courses: I wouldn't dream of using my poles in many of the bush tracks in New Zealand and Australia, but in open country, yes.
    Again, I enjoy using my Pacerpoles, and respect the science behind their design. I have no commercial connection with the designer or manufacturer.

    #1618079
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Andrew

    Well, nothing like stirring the pot! You know me. :-)

    As Lynn suggested, for some it can be a theological issue. That's just silly, and yes, I poke fun at that attitude. After all, tens of thousands of walkers have spent their life walking everywhere without trekking poles. Clearly, they are not 'essential gear', despite all the marketing spin.

    However, they do have their uses. I use (CF) trekking poles with my snow shoes. They are very useful there. In fact, they are useful for most any walking in the snow, where your footing is always a bit unreliable. That leads to my next point.

    I completely agree that poles can be useful for people with joint problems, especially on downhill stretches. The extra stability they give can take a huge load off knee joints and make walking possible. No question there either. But I think it is important to properly recognise what you are doing here. You are not helping your leg muscles; you are helping the tendons around your knee (and maybe ankle) joints from excess and sometimes sudden stress. Very valid use of course! (Used them myself once when I broke an ankle in the bush.)

    Whether trekking poles are the best use of your limited energy output when travelling on easy terrain is definitely another matter. Sure, labs studies for 30 minutes can show anything you want, but what about when you are going flat out for the entire day? You have limited energy output. Is it best to push all that energy into the biggest and most efficient muscles of your body (your legs), or should you divert some of it to smaller less-efficient muscles (your arms)? My experience is that my legs can make the best use of the energy, but others may disagree. It's a free world.

    I may have mentioned watching a group of walkers going up an asphalt road in France one evening. Gentle slope, easy walking – click, clack, click, clack all the way. They were just waving their poles, not really pushing off with them. Total waste of effort.

    Cheers

    #1618082
    BlackHatGuy
    Spectator

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    "LOL. We can add trekking poles to the list of "no go" topics around here."

    Well my work day was over, it was time to sit back.
    So I first fed my puppy and then turned on my Mac.
    I in my undies, my pup on the floor,
    With crickets and tree frogs singing just out the door.
    When out on the internet there arose such a clatter
    I entered BPL forums to see what was the matter!
    And what to my wondering eyes did appear?
    But a bunch of BPLers, and they were arguing about gear!
    At first I was downright and utterly shocked!
    These hikers, these trekkers, were going off half cocked!
    Whether trekking poles, pak rifles, or boots versus shoes,
    the discussions became heated, no one wanted to ‘lose!’
    Illegals and guns and even some chocolate milk!
    Paypal fees, sneaky buyers, all ‘discussed’ to the hilt!
    There were facts, there were figures, flying about willy nilly
    It seemed, as they went, there was no subject too silly!
    Some folks were quite harsh, others quite smug,
    And some doc running ‘round offering everyone hugs.
    And I read all the threads, one right after the other
    til my eyes just glazed over and I muttered “oh brother….”
    Then I smirked, and I turned to my pup and I said,
    “I am now quite exhausted, let’s turn in to bed.”
    So as I turn off my Mac, and I put out the light,
    I’ll offer: Happy hiking to all, and to all, a good night

    PS-Trekking poles rock ;-)

    #1618083
    John Nausieda
    BPL Member

    @meander

    Locale: PNW

    Pretty good rhyme scheme for fast work . But the Spirit of Christmas Future is what the gear Swap forum needs.

    #1618084
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    "You have limited energy output. Is it best to push all that energy into the biggest and most efficient muscles of your body (your legs), or should you divert some of it to smaller less-efficient muscles (your arms)?"

    Not sure about limited energy?? That's what food is for…diverting some of my leg energy into otherwise unused upper body muscles helps extend how far and fast my legs will carry me, and makes my legs less tired at the end of the day. However, I do have a good reserve of upper body muscle to draw on, so this may not help folks who have fairly limited upper body strength or stamina. I agree on easy terrain there is not much point to poles (for me), and also agree that many folks use them incorrectly and thus get little benefit or over extend themselves in their upper body. However, properly used, they do conserve the leg muscles. Whether this is a perceived benefit to an individual is, well, individual. However the conservation of lower body energy and joint stresses should not be the bone of contention here. They clearly do help with those two physiological aspects of hiking on steep or uneven terrain.

    #1618125
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "PS-Trekking poles rock ;-)"

    So do you, Doug. Freakin' hi-laree-us. And your timing is impeccable. :))

    #1618141
    Travis Leanna
    BPL Member

    @t-l

    Locale: Wisconsin

    Doug! HAHAHAHAAAH!! That gave me the best laugh of the week! Thanks man! Well done!

    #1618202
    James Klein
    BPL Member

    @jnklein21

    Locale: Southeast

    I have only notice one person claiming poles were of very limited benefit to gerneal hikers, one claim they are of little benefit to them personally, a few mention they are somewhat beneficial (enought to carry reguarly) and a few more claiming they are very benificial. So I really don't understand what all of the fuss is about (regarding this being a polarizing topic).

    #1618210
    Michael L
    BPL Member

    @mpl_35

    Locale: NoCo

    Probably because several people called into question the legitimacy of the study. It appeared they didn't want to believe they were beneficial.

    Then when that was completely covered, we have this:

    "I find it hard to believe that there are still folks who wish to claim that trekking poles are of no benefit."

    re:There are, I'm one of them. If I manage to put enough pressure on the pole(s) to help my legs my neck/shoulders hurt. They cause pain for me. But a single staff for crossing streams is useful.

    That set it off again, even though Larry qualified that to mean only himself.

    Then towards the end we have Roger Caffin denying scientific studies and still claiming no muscle benefit.

    I think it just annoys/amuses some of us that people doubt they help in the face of what is now several studies on the subject. Sure you might not like them personally and feel you don't need them, but in most situations they work.

    #1618211
    Michael L
    BPL Member

    @mpl_35

    Locale: NoCo

    Actually, the biggest thing I took away from this is the same that Jeff mentioned a while back. Nice to see a legit study done on backpacking/hiking subject!

    #1618223
    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member

    @christownsend

    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    "I may have mentioned watching a group of walkers going up an asphalt road in France one evening. Gentle slope, easy walking – click, clack, click, clack all the way. They were just waving their poles, not really pushing off with them. Total waste of effort."

    I've seen many walkers like that but it doesn't mean that poles are useless. Like any gear you need to know how to use them.

    On easy ground I can walk faster using poles but I rarely do so as I'm not usually in a hurry. On roads I normally strap the poles to my pack. It's on rough terrain, especially steep rough terrain off trail that I find poles of most benefit.

    I'm not sure why poles provoke such a reaction in some people. Years ago when poles were fairly new in the UK as magazine I wrote for regularly (TGO) received a complaint from a reader that all the walkers in cover photos had poles so the editor was obviously in the pay of pole companies. All the walkers also had rucksacks and boots (as it was back then) but no-one accused the editor of being in the pay of pack or boot makers. I've watched the pole debate rage on and off in magazines and different parts of the net ever since.

    #1618238
    James Klein
    BPL Member

    @jnklein21

    Locale: Southeast

    Questioning the testing methods of the study only amounts to saying the results are inconclusive. Though I guess some of those questioning the method my have started doing so b/c they were already biased toward trekking pole benefits.

    Roger was the only person I noticed claiming little benefit to the gereral hiker. I guess all the uproar probably comes from other, prior, debates where this has been a hot topic. It just seems like (from this thread) a lot are getting pretty upset/frustrated by others' claim that poles are of little use – even though almost no one is making that claim (in fact many to the contrary).

    #1618247
    James Klein
    BPL Member

    @jnklein21

    Locale: Southeast

    Roger I don't know how you can make the claim "you are NOT helping the leg muscles…"

    The only case I can imagine where the poles only take load off of the joints and connective tissue and NOT the leg muscles is if a user lands spot on their heel w/ knee locked and takes all stress off the poles before their weight begins to shift from the heel towards midfoot and the knee starts to bend. Sounds like a pretty strange use of poles.
    If a hiker is applying any load on the poles while flexing or extending the knee, hip or ankle joint, some of the leg muscle work will be given to the arms.
    I agree that a hiker using poles will probably burn more calories than the he would have without them for a given distance but I would also bet that he could cover the same distance quiker for a given physiological comfort level (even if he does have to carry a little more food).

    James

    edited for spelling

    #1618290
    Jim W.
    BPL Member

    @jimqpublic

    Locale: So-Cal

    "Whether trekking poles are the best use of your limited energy output when travelling on easy terrain is definitely another matter. … You have limited energy output. "

    Agreed 100%. My energy delivery system (heart/lungs/digestion) is the limiting factor, not muscles. I use poles to great advantage in three situations:
    1-Steep, loose uphill where the added traction prevents me from slipping.
    1-Big steps up/down or across streams where the poles act to vault/cushion my movement.
    3-Downhill- save the knees, go faster, don't slip.

    #1618293
    Rakesh Malik
    Member

    @tamerlin

    Locale: Cascadia

    "Roger I don't know how you can make the claim "you are NOT helping the leg muscles…""

    Legitimately, he can't, because it's dependent too much on how you use them. I can assure that when I use my trekking poles, they make a difference to my leg muscles, because I use them mostly on steep hills (up as well as down), and most of the energy I put into the poles is from my torso rather than from my arms. So my shoulders and abs get quite a workout. :)

    Not everyone uses their poles that way, though. A lot of people use them just for balance, which means that they aren't taking effort from their legs. That seems entirely reasonable to me.

    And I've also seen a lot of people walk with trekking poles that aren't doing anything with them other than dragging them along, which makes me wonder why they bother. This one seems entirely inane to me.

    #1618369
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    Well, Roger can speak for himself, but my impression of his position is that a) Folks have hiked for millenia without them just fine, so they are clearly not necessary; b) Leg muscles are plenty strong enough to carry the load, so if you need poles to help your leg muscles, them maybe you should work on strengthening your leg muscles: and c) using poles takes more energy, so they are actually detrimental…or something along those lines.

    My position is that there are many many things hikers of the past didn't have or use, so they too are not "necessary". That doesn't mean that the new fangled things are of no benefit. In many ways, BPL is all about new-fangled ways of doing things to make the hiking experience easier and more enjoyable. Poles clearly fill this need for many hikers.

    I also don't see that it is detrimental to use a tool that allows you to use more of your body's resources, including arms, shoulders, back and core muscles as well as your legs. Overall energy is not my limiting factor as long as I keep the food intake up. Add to that increased stability in a variety of situations, and you have a tool for as little as 4oz that makes your trip easier and more enjoyable, even more so if you have joint issues in your legs.

    I must confess, I was like Roger for many years. It was after watching a good hiking buddy of mine use poles for several years that I eventually gave them a decent try. You see, he was the fittest hiker I have ever met. He had no shortage of energy or leg capacity, could go for 24 hours without a break and climb unmarked routes like a mountain goat before he started using poles. So I asked why he suddenly thought he needed poles? He said something to the effect that, though he didn't need them, he could move faster and more sure footed, and felt less tired at the end of the day. They also stopped blood from pooling and swelling his hands. In other words, they increased his capacity to travel on foot, and increased his enjoyment. I now agree after using them for a while. It's a bonus that I can also use them to pitch some of my shelters…

    Now, I find the research interesting, but not very important. To me it's the personal experience that matters. Even if the research said that poles were a waste of time, had no benefit on joints and didn't reduce leg muscle fatigue, I would still use them as I personally find them beneficial.

Viewing 25 posts - 51 through 75 (of 92 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools


Loading...