Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Do hiking poles build upper body muscle?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/18/2009 18:55:55 MDT Print View

You're both right and wrong, "trail" is the operative word, and trekking poles are immensely versatile and useful in other applications besides walking on a trail. Trekking poles and trail running go together quite well depending on the terrain. I have begun incorporating trekking poles into all my trail runs, which is about 3 times a week. One of my regular routes switches from twisting single track to a 700ft. scramble up the face of one of our local features, it is the type of steep pitch, loose, mixed rock and sandstone where trekking poles shine and aid significantly, they also aid in descending, basically all the areas where trekking poles assist in hiking, they too can be incorporated into trail running, try it sometime. This is my experience.

I have read about other endurance athletes such as Andrew Skurka and North Face team member Sam Thompson who utilize trekking poles into their trail runs, particularly Sam Thompson who ran the Colorado Trail using poles. My running form has improved some with the use of poles on the trail, a certain rhythm developed and it gave my hands and arms something to do, which I always seemed to struggle with. It is really nice to attack a climb running with poles, I don't feel the urge to hunch over so much and suffer to the top, rather the use of poles seems to elevate me and provide proper posture and footing.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: running with poles on 05/18/2009 19:09:00 MDT Print View

Lets see, 100 km = 62 miles over here in la, la land.

62 miles on mountain trails... no one is going to 'run' of all it.

Typically it is a hike up the big hills, and like many hikers, the poles come in handy.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/18/2009 19:49:32 MDT Print View

Hi Tom

But everyone keep telling how trekking poles add propulsion?
If highly competitive runners don't get any advantage from them, why should walkers?
Um - I should add that some of those runners did have good upper-body development!

I cheerfully make exception for those who find that poles are useful for bad knees on downhills - no argument there.

Cheers

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/18/2009 20:26:30 MDT Print View

"But everyone keep telling how trekking poles add propulsion?"

I don't think there's good eveidence to say poles 'add propulsion'. But there is good evidence that they reduce stress on lower joints, allow an increase in stride length, reduce perceived exertion over long hikes, and generally make hikers 'feel better', even though poles cause an increase in measurable exertion. Anecdotally poles stop my hands from swelling, and allow me to stand more upright while going up and down hills. The benefits for me are more ergonomic than speed (and safety crossing rivers and other slippery things).

Not sure about running. It is hard for me to imagine trekking poles would offer anything more than stability or piece of mind while running, and the increase in exertion might even be detrimental to performance over a long run.

Edited by retropump on 05/18/2009 20:28:48 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/18/2009 20:35:14 MDT Print View

I think Nick makes a good point, when the trail turns to steep, hiking ensues, the poles can be a tool for those that gain benefit from using them, which isn't everyone. Granted there are masochists out there who I'm sure get a kick out of pushing their bodies to extreme measures like maintaining a strong pace up steep terrain undeterred.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/18/2009 21:25:51 MDT Print View

"But everyone keep telling how trekking poles add propulsion?
If highly competitive runners don't get any advantage from them, why should walkers?"

Hi Roger,

I think running and walking are very different activities. Different rhythm, different pace, different purpose, and hiking with a backpack introduces yet another element into the mix. I was a pretty competitive runner for a number of years, on the roads, on trails, and off, and I cannot imagine being able to use them productively in any of those activities, just as you have observed. When hiking, I find them extremely useful, not only on down hill sections to protect joints and add an element of stability in certain dicey situations(talus, stream crossings, etc), but also on uphill sections to assist in high step-ups and generally transfer part of the work load to my upper body, thereby slightly delaying the onset of glycogen depletion in my legs. I have done it both ways, having backpacked for 24 years without poles before I started using them, and I have noticed a definite difference. For me it is not adding propulsion in the sense of "going faster" but, rather, distributing the workload over a wider set of muscles. Glycogen, as I understand it, is not mobile much beyond neighboring muscle cells and if I can conserve a bit of it in my legs, all the better. My 2 cents.

Cheers,

Tom

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/18/2009 21:26:59 MDT Print View

"I cheerfully make exception for those who find that poles are useful for bad knees on downhills - no argument there."

Ah... but in a race you want/need to run downhill. Maintain your pace/place on the uphills, increase speed and pass people on the downhill. Let gravity do the work. Experienced runners make up time on the down hills, while others worry about falling down.

Two different sports... hiking and ultra-running.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/18/2009 21:34:07 MDT Print View

"Ah... but in a race you want/need to run downhill. Maintain your pace/place on the uphills, increase speed and pass people on the downhill. Let gravity do the work. Experienced runners make up time on the down hills, while others worry about falling down."

That's one strategy, Nick. There are other runners, strong on hills, who choose to nail their opponent on the uphill, open up a lead with a kick, and then try to maintain their lead. It can also be devastating psychologically when someone passes you on a hill and then kicks coming off the hill to open up a lead. Both tactics have their following.

Loco Rogue
(locorogue) - F
Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/22/2009 13:29:55 MDT Print View

Toning: Trekking poles will stimulate upper body muscles, primarily shoulders, back, arms(more details if you need). Using poles is not a 'muscle building' exercise, mostly repetitious aerobic. Another factor in seeing any "toning" or benefits of muscle stimulation, is the amount of body fat that one has. Obviously the less BF means that you'll see muscles more than someone that has a higher BF%. When one is doing more aerobic functions(with proper diet), usually the leaner one gets, the more definition they'll see, it's not that they are building muscle, they are just seeing the 'hidden' muscles they already have.

Musculoskeletal: Poles will reduce musculoskeletal stress on the lower body. Those who never used poles will 'feel' the almost immediate relief on the structure before they'll see any muscle "toning". Don't ever place weights on your limbs as one has suggested. It's unnatural and usually causes injury, usually minor to start. The injuries usually start in the muscles(micro tears, etc). Then potential harm to the rest of the musculoskeletal, because people don't realize that this new 'pain' they are having is caused by the 'new' unnatural addition they added(weights).

My professional opinion:(via extensive/exhausting field testing and thorough research): Trekking/hiking poles are an absolute necessity for those doing any kind of extended walking, and when weight is added to their structure, and especially on prolonged outings. And an absolute benefit to elderly, or those with structural issues.

Sorry to ramble.

Edited by locorogue on 05/22/2009 13:31:37 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/22/2009 22:20:44 MDT Print View

> My professional opinion:(via extensive/exhausting field testing and thorough research):
> Trekking/hiking poles are an absolute necessity for those doing any kind of extended walking,
> and when weight is added to their structure, and especially on prolonged outings.

Oh dear. My wife and I have been doing these 2 and 3 MONTH long walks in Europe with full packs without any trekking poles. How did we survive in that case?

For that matter, how did ANYone survive in the days before trekking poles were invented?

Cheers

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Do hiking poles build upper body muscle? on 05/23/2009 17:36:31 MDT Print View

"For that matter, how did ANYone survive in the days before trekking poles were invented?"

Probably the same way people survived before cars, airplanes, refrigerators, washing machines, etc were invented. Survival and optimization are two different things.

What I ponder is how people survived before cell phones, I Pods, and video games were invented. :-)

Loco Rogue
(locorogue) - F
Sarcasm(poor america) on 05/24/2009 00:30:08 MDT Print View

Oh dear. My wife and I have been doing these 2 and 3 MONTH long walks in Europe with full packs without any trekking poles. How did we survive in that case?

For that matter, how did ANYone survive in the days before trekking poles were invented?

Cheers

I LOVE Sarcasm? It's usually a sign of being unbalanced, haunted by anger. People with unmet goals, people who were emotionally abused and people with violated rights may end up being angry at everything. They live a miserable life and curse everyone they find in their way as if others carry part of the blame for what happened to them. Those are the overly critical and the overly sarcastic people you meet in your life. Some people are overly critical because this is just how they were treated as children. Whether it was by their parents or colleagues it won’t matter much, what matters is that the child becomes wounded and then carries the wound into his subconscious mind then without noticing this wound makes him overly critical and UNBEARABLE to everyone around him. The mind of the person lacking self confidence is usually full of negative messages and that’s why the excess negative messages travels to the other people around him in the form of criticism. The conclusion is, The overly critical person usually lacks self confidence. Irony is wasted on the stupid. Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.

Thanks 'tom' and 'roger', i'm sure there will be more to come, and not just from you, as your type seems to be the norm. It sickens me, and it's also embarrassing(as an american) that your type is the unfortunate majority(any wonder why most of the world hates americans)? But what is nice is that you let me know that i am indeed better than some.

Sorry to 'ramble' again, but i did want to apologize, my post directed towards "Do hiking poles build upper body muscle?" was not directed to you, i just felt compelled(as a professional in the field, for where the question was directed)) to post a 'credible' response to a specific post/person. Why? It was answered by 'some' in ways that's dangerous. And my post receives only idiocy? I'm not a fan of these forums, as they tend to open a person up to scrutiny from the naive, ignorant/stupid, jealous?

Your 'faux' campaign's(treks to the great unknown) that you engage, are second to your real, true passion(drive)... negativity. It's usually not something one is proud of, but they say ignorance is bliss, right?, and heck, your good at it, so stick with it! I won't expect less, don't let me down, and your welcome(you won't understand that one, i just love toying with your kind). I loved the "CHEERS" at the end, by the way.

Buddha speed 初しぐれ猿も小蓑をほしげ也?

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Sarcasm(poor america) on 05/24/2009 00:51:22 MDT Print View

Chill out Loco. =-) Best not to jump to conclusions about people's personalities based on a sentence or two they have written. If you hang around BPL for a while you will discover that Roger and Tom are nice guys. I think you've misinterpreted Tom's post, and have taken Roger's comment a little too personally. Unfortunately it's difficult to convey the tone of the speaker's voice when writing, but if you know him a little bit then you would realise that his sarcasm is not malicious or nasty. Hence the 'cheers' at the end of the post. A classic case of internet forum mis-communication, where the writer thinks he is saying one thing, and the reader mis-interprets the tone of the comment and thinks he is saying something else.

ps. you may be pleased to hear Roger is Australian, not American ;-)

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Sarcasm(poor america) on 05/24/2009 02:53:03 MDT Print View

With a total of 4 posts....I would back right off and not make assumptions about others.

Cheers

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Sarcasm(poor america) on 05/24/2009 13:30:01 MDT Print View

Wow. No kidding.

That's quite a manifesto, 'Rogue'.

Talk about being "unbalanced" and "haunted by anger"...

Cheers.

Edited by acrosome on 05/24/2009 13:31:04 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sarcasm(poor america) on 05/24/2009 13:57:47 MDT Print View

I also trekked for almost 30 years without any poles or walking sticks. And when I first tried them I disliked them intensely, but a bad ankle injury forced me to try them in earnest, and now I wouldn't go back. I still can't stand to use the straps on poles though, and this was the thing that put me off them most when I first tried them.

Loco, you may have professional experience to add, but when you make absolute statements suchs as "trekking/hiking poles are an absolute necessity for those doing any kind of extended walking", you not only leave yourself open to attack, but you bait attack from even the most balanced and non-angry kinds of folks like Roger and Tom.

Edited by retropump on 05/24/2009 14:04:12 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sarcasm(poor america) on 05/24/2009 18:03:28 MDT Print View

Hi all

I must say I was impressed by the eloquence of the opening paragraph from Loco Rogue. A genuine work of art. I was filled with admiration.

But then I started to wonder. It seemed too good to be true, so I did some research. Guess what? Most of the big first paragraph was cribbed, exactly word for word, from pop-psych publications on the web. Have a look at
http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Why_Are_Some_People_Overly_Critical_And_Sarcastic.html
for an example.

Troll. Boring. Plonk.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 05/24/2009 21:18:02 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Sarcasm(poor america) on 05/24/2009 18:11:29 MDT Print View

Roger, you sound angry ;)

I also think Loco mistook you for an American!!

Edited by retropump on 05/24/2009 18:16:05 MDT.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
Re: Re: Sarcasm (Americans Suck) on 05/24/2009 18:15:17 MDT Print View

I personally like the "Americans suck" in his "about me" section. Anyone else picking up on his pathetic little agenda.....

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: Re: Sarcasm (Americans Suck) on 05/24/2009 18:35:32 MDT Print View

'Roid Rage?

I think poles help build arm strength and I like 'em. You know what else builds arm strength? Pumping my darn MSR Hyperflow.

And for the record U-S-A U-S-A USA USA!!!

Cheers!