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Help! The walking pole makes me feel like the walking dead!

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Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
First: are they adjusted properly?
Second: are you using them properly?
Third: have you practiced with different hand positions, using the hand straps?

All of the above make a difference. Geometry is everything. Pace and cadence are vital. Knowing when to use or remove rubber tips is also critical.

Rather than try to diagnose your specific issues, I recommend that you go to the website for Leki, Black Diamond, or to You Tube, to find and review videos on “How to use hiking poles.”

Personally I believe that using poles is as natural as walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle. Once you learn it, you never forget. It is muscle memory. Once ingrained, you are stuck with it.

Hope this helps.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Ditch them.

Up until the last 5 years I never used trekking poles. When I started using them, I found they provided benefit and I enjoy having them along. I put on and remove the rubber tips on Camino as needed.

If you do not like them, feel disadvantaged while using them, find them creating problems, etc, then I would not put up with them any more than an ill fitting shoe or backpack. Go with what you know and makes things better, not worse.

I am not going to presume that you need to be taught better, have more practice, attach rabbit's feet to the poles, or chant in a certain way. . . If they are not working, they are not working. I tend to think that a lot of pilgrims employ trekking poles because they think it is 'part of the Camino thing to do'. It is obvious as you watch them that they are like an appendix, sort of a useless appendage.

So remove your appendix trekking poles from your person and do what is good for you :)
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
Try trailing the poles behind you, putting your hands through the straps in the correct position but then letting them dangle from your hands and moving your arms in a natural way. Don't try and plant them, just let them train behind. But keep your arms swinging, left arm with right leg, right arm with left leg. But not exaggerated, only as it feels right and comfortable. Keep doing that until you naturally start to plant the poles a bit.

I've seen that technique work with people who found it difficult to make them work properly.

If it were me (assuming I was feeling as you were) I'd have lightweight collapsing poles and keep them on my backpack, only bringing them out when I felt the need to use them - up or down a steep slope. Or getting over a muddy/wet/obstacle strewn stretch.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Do they actually help you on the uphills and downhills? You don't have to use them the rest of the time.

Personally, I hate the two pole system.

I have one pole, I use it for downhill support.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
They help me. I could not walk without them, but I've got no depth perception (being nearly blind in one eye), knees that are totally stuffed, and poor balance. This morning in the gym, on the treadmill - I managed to fall off because I was not holding the guide rail!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I second what Kanga says. My issue is being too top heavy, especially when carrying a loaded rucksack. For me balance is a serious problem.

Davebugg suggested the correct course... go with what works best for you. My advice was to try to optimize using poles. Of course, if after trying to do this, you are still at odds, do ditch them, as Davebugg says.

Hope this helps.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Do they actually help you on the uphills and downhills? You don't have to use them the rest of the time.

Personally, I hate the two pole system.

I have one pole, I use it for downhill support.
Yes, there is no doubt that they help me with the effort on the uphill grades and on the flats. I tend not to use them going downhill, although many who do, find that helpful as well..
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
First: are they adjusted properly?
Second: are you using them properly?
Third: have you practiced with different hand positions, using the hand straps?

All of the above make a difference. Geometry is everything. Pace and cadence are vital. Knowing when to use or remove rubber tips is also critical.

Rather than try to diagnose your specific issues, I recommend that you go to the website for Leki, Black Diamond, or to You Tube, to find and review videos on “How to use hiking poles.”

Personally I believe that using poles is as natural as walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle. Once you learn it, you never forget. It is muscle memory. Once ingrained, you are stuck with it.

Hope this helps.
Less my post be construed as being opposed to your advice, Tom, it isn't meant to. For those who want to use trekking poles and experience their definite benefits, your advice is spot on. I was only speaking of those who have tried, are utterly frustrated, and really are wondering why they are putting up with trying to 'get it' :)
 

Dogbreath

Doug Johnson, Indiana, USA
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP --> SdC) Sep/Oct 2019
I've come to like them. I started out hiking the AT without poles, ended up several years with ankle/knee problems (Section hiker, summers only for several weeks). I'm sure there was more to the story than just the absence of poles. I started using them during one summer's hike in New York -- nice difference. The terrain is rougher than the Camino, and I was by then more 'comfortable' with my hiking psyche. I've grown accustomed to them even in the relative flat-land wilderness hikes where I live. I'll bring a pair with me (they compact to fit inside my pack), now have rubber tips. As others have opined, they help me (physically, psychologically) so I'll use them. If someone's mind+body say they are of no use (or worse, an interference to a natural hiking cadence), leave them in a donativo box (I think you Pilgrims call it). See you on the Camino!
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Do they actually help you on the uphills and downhills?
I've been walking with them for two months now. I only feel benefits on uphills.
And yup, they are fitted to me, I am holding them properly (according to the store people, the videos and my physio cousin).

So I may leave them at home... or just take one to use on uphills :/ No point in carrying the weight, even if small.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I didn't intend to prompt a discussion on the merits of two poles. I've been at the receiving end of two-pole lovers telling me how I'm doing it wrong, for half a dozen caminos. I've no doubt they are wonderful, but for a variety of reasons they are not for me.

My question was for Anamya. If the poles aren't useful, ditch them.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I never used trekking poles until I walked the Camino. The woman in the shoppe where I bought them had walked the Camino Frances several times. She showed me how to adjust them in height and how to utilize the strap. She stressed the natural rhythm needed between the arms and legs when walking and to almost have the poles glide with you. Sort of like cross country skiing I suppose. It is actually quite easy to pick up and learn if you let the body do its natural thing. I also love the workout they give my hands and shoulders and arms when walking the Camino. You can feel it.
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
I also love the workout they give my hands and shoulders and arms when walking the Camino. You can feel it.
I surely can, and that's exactly the part I dislike! Just feels like energy I waste that could have been used otherwise!

Probably I should just admit that i tried, but no, they are not for me. I may take one pole to the Lebaniego, just to assist with the uphills, and then donate the pair to someone that can make better use of them :)
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
They help me. I could not walk without them, but I've got no depth perception (being nearly blind in one eye), knees that are totally stuffed, and poor balance. This morning in the gym, on the treadmill - I managed to fall off because I was not holding the guide rail!
You need to consider using poles on the treadmill...
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
Personally I don't use them, and the times I tried them I couldn't see the point. They just seemed to be in the way for me, like dealing with a pair of javelins... I'm fairly light and agile, and my pack is not heavy, so balance is not really an issue. But it shows that everyone is different. I think the opinions above to relinquish them is fair, if indeed you derive or perceive no benefit in using them. Otherwise, keep-on practicing!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Less my post be construed as being opposed to your advice, Tom, it isn't meant to. For those who want to use trekking poles and experience their definite benefits, your advice is spot on. I was only speaking of those who have tried, are utterly frustrated, and really are wondering why they are putting up with trying to 'get it' :)
I did NOT construe it that way. I consider both our posts to be complimentary.

No harm, no foul.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
I think that,for some,they are a bit of a fad. Years ago on the Le Puy route I met a lecturer in biomechanical engineering and he bluntly asked someone why he had them..the reply was because others were using them even tough he thought they were doing no good. I've lost count how many times I've seen these poles trailed along the ground,slung across the shoulders or gently tapping on asphalt..the benefit?..nil. Another time someone was walking across a small slipway with ankle deep water and as he slipped he came down and missed spearing himself in the leg with the point. I also find it odd that you need to "learn" how to use them properly. To me they seem like a con from the skiing pole manufacturers..I can just hear them.."look fellas how can we flog these things out of skiing season?...I know lets say they take 40% pressure off your knees,hang on that's too much..make it 25%"
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@Anamya , they're not everyone's cuppa. I bought a pair for my second camino and hated them for a whole half day. And then the rhythm clicked in and now I can't imagine walking any distance with weight on my back without them. My (totally intuitive) epiphany was to NOT pair each footstep with a pole plant, as you are 'supposed to do' but to have a longer 'stride' with the arms. "!!Horrors!!" from the purists, but it really works for me. So before you throw them out, play with that.
And then if they're not for you, they're not, and that's totally fine.

To me they seem like a con from the skiing pole manufacturers
Nope. You may not like them @omar504, but many of us swear by them, for good reason.
For me they've been a Godsend - besides saving my knee and ankle they've directly prevented more than a handful of face-plants.
 

celinehenriette

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Zwolle - Rome 2013
Jacobsweg Austria 2018
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Portugues 2018
Finisterre 2018
I found they only help when I carry a heavy backpack. I feel that with a heavy pack the poles help me to push myself up a hill. When I am not on a hill, I don't use them. Going down also helps if you make them longer, so they support the knees a bit and keep you from falling forward.
It seems to me you have had all the help you can possibly find and they still don't feel right. If you can walk without poles, I would recommend not bringing them, they will only be in the way.
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
They just seemed to be in the way for me, like dealing with a pair of javelins... I'm fairly light and agile, and my pack is not heavy, so balance is not really an issue. But it shows that everyone is different. I think the opinions above to relinquish them is fair, if indeed you derive or perceive no benefit in using them. Otherwise, keep-on practicing!
You described exactly how I feel! Like having javelins on the way, or like an octopus with too many limbs. I am very light (50 kg) and carry a very light pack (less than 5kg), so maybe that is a big thing in not actually feeling like the poles help with support/balance.

I really appreciate all the comments and replies. And indeed, the thing is to do what we often say here in the forum: go with what works for you. So these poles may find a new home really soon :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
Even though I'm sure I look stupid walking with them, I love my PacerPoles.
My wife walked the Camino in 2016 with Pacer Poles and has made me a convert to them. I don’t know if Pacer Poles make users look “stupid”, but I find their design makes a good deal of sense and really seems to provide good support and balance. I’ll be on the Camino beginning in late-April with my Pacer Poles in hand. In any case, my experience has been that hiking poles in general are a real benefit to long distance trekking.
 

Henry B

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
You could try to learn. That is...be taught.
I walked with 2 Norwegians on the CF last year and they really knew how to use them and the benefit of so doing. I used a single staff to the same effect but HAD TO LEARN. Buen Camino
 

CdnDreamer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
I think the Picos are very steep and it could be advantageous to have at least one pole with you through the mountains. I don't know where your camino is, but I walked the Salvador last year and the mountains were very steep.

I use two poles and have never felt that the energy from my arms is wasted. I use the poles to push myself forward with each step, just like on the inclines. But I don't waste energy when bringing the poles forward for the next push. The poles also keep my hands up, so they don't fill with water when I am walking. But if you don't have that problem normally, it wouldn't be a benefit to you. Also, I find that the poles remind me to stand up straight as I walk. - after years of slouching over a computer all day. But that is my experience.

We all have to find what works for our bodies. Do what works for you and don't feel you have to explain your decision to others.
 

CatPhillips

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016, Norte 2017, Primitivo 2017, Norte 2019, Primitivo 2019.
I love my pacer poles, too! My poles make me feel like I have super powers! Balance is better, I can look up and around without feeling like I’ll trip, and they help me up and down hills. But I guess they’re not for everyone. But wait, pacer poles look stupid?! No way!
 

c0484

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
I always recommend a pair of walking sticks. I watch people using them and they are using them improperly. The tips should not come forward past the back edge of your heal unless you are going down hill, when they can provide added stability in front of your body. REI and other outfitters can provide training on the use of poles.
 

Chris Gi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Did April through June 2018 from Pamplona to Santiago. 2020 May or end of September.
Do they actually help you on the uphills and downhills? You don't have to use them the rest of the time.

Personally, I hate the two pole system.

I have one pole, I use it for downhill support.
They also help when crossing a stream by way of wobbly rocks, judging the depth of the mud, and yes when negotiating a steep and rocky down hill trail that has a fast moving stream running down it - as in the descent into Molinaseca.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
My wife walked the Camino in 2016 with Pacer Poles and has made me a convert to them. I don’t know if Pacer Poles make users look “stupid”, but I find their design makes a good deal of sense and really seems to provide good support and balance. I’ll be on the Camino beginning in late-April with my Pacer Poles in hand. In any case, my experience has been that hiking poles in general are a real benefit to long distance trekking.
I love my PacerPoles too. I bought them because they seemed "idiot proof", and the learning curve was very small. Because of their ergonomic grip I didn't have to learn how to hold them correctly.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
They also help when crossing a stream by way of wobbly rocks, judging the depth of the mud, and yes when negotiating a steep and rocky down hill trail that has a fast moving stream running down it - as in the descent into Molinaseca.
And they require a level of coordination I do not possess. My one stick works perfectly for many of those other issues and I'll wade through that stream before crossing on wobbly rocks. That descent to Molinaseca is history for me, done it twice on that trail and I use the road now.

I've had people extoll the virtue of how much faster two sticks will make me go. It is not a race.
 

sunwanderer

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago
Sep/Oct 2015
If you don't need the kind of help poles provide, then they are of little use.

I need the help. Many years ago I injured my upper back, and after standing or walking for a while it will begin to ache. Properly using trekking poles stretches my spine and reverses the buildup of pain.

Even without a pack, on very long walks my lower back will begin to ache. Again, poles prevent this, and allow me to walk longer and more enjoyably.

However, "just trying" poles did nothing for me. I had to learn how to use them. By the time I got to the Camino, they could take 10% to 12% of my weight off of my spine, knees and feet.

Of course, that means that all that weight was then transferred to my arms and wrists, but they are not so beat up and can take it without complaining. Plus, it improved my upper body strength.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés, '14 '17 Finisterre, '14 '17 '18 Primitivo, '15 '18 Portuguese, '17, '18 San Salvador, '18
The jury is out for me regarding poles. After many years of using and believing that I was benefiting, especially my knees, by using poles, I stumbled on another thread here about the tendency to over-stride during walking, especially uphill. Now I was an occupational health nurse of many years and still am a yoga instructor, and consider myself to be extremely body self-aware.
After developing a knee overuse syndrome on my last Camino, I self-diagnosed that most likely indeed, I was over-striding. The nordic-style walking that I had learned from using poles, extending my arms in a strong forward momentum, but planting the pole by my feet, seems to indeed have given me the tendency to over-stride.
As a result, I have been consciously shortening my stride, ditching the poles for now (I walk on hills in Colorado, up and down, down always worse on my knee), and trying to lean slightly forward with my torso, like the "Chi-walking" than @Terry Callery suggested earlier. Haven't done a long-distance Camino yet to test this new theory out. I am having a real hard time believing that giving up poles on the downhill will benefit me.
I would love to hear comments on this, @davebugg or others who feel are expert in this. I suppose it is all an individual thing, and testing, testing, testing is the answer! Much obliged to all who respond.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
The trekking poles (at least for me) not so much take up shock (which they do to some extent), but instead help me move my arms and legs in a more efficient sync/rhythm. I just feel like I walk more efficiently. It takes very little training to use them properly because in a sense that arm to leg motion is natural. Like I said earlier, I really like the upper body workout. Arms, shoulders and hands feeling stronger and that extra workout seems to help my overall conditioning and leaning up every time I walk the Camino. Pants/shorts start sagging. Belt tightens more and more every week. Stronger, leaner. To me the physical aspect is one of the tiers of my love for walking the Camino, along with the spiritual, religious and social/cultural.
 

LaFlorida

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May-June 2018
Everyone is different, but I will never do a steep hike again without my pair of poles, especially on the downhill. Getting used to a pace that works for me only took a couple of hours of practice, and I am not a graceful person. A loose hold with straps, not a death grip, is key. They turn me into a four-footed animal. Not quite mountain goat level, but I know I avoided falls and knee-strain.
 

Montana Bill

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
Brought mine thinking "sissy me"!! I'll never use them. Tried them day 1 and never started a day after that without them.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
I walked for years without them, wondering why people did.
Now I'm a convert, They help my knees, my back, my balance, and I arrive at the end of a walking day much less tired and sore. Instead of my legs doing all the work, my arms help. After 1 day my back pain went, and I had no knee pain. Then in the albergue they sometimes became a clothes line.
I discovered this at 59. So it can take a while.
 

Walton

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
Pacer poles for me - but in saying that, I've never used ordinary poles and I don't think I will.

With three Camino's under my belt now, I've found that my poles;

1. Add a lot of extra stability on rough, uneven and muddy wet ground. Helps prevent falls. Carrying a backpack makes the wearer top heavy and I've found that once you slip or stumble while wearing a backpack it is much harder to regain stability and balance.
2. Take weight off the knees on uphills, helping to keep those dodgy knees of mine relatively pain free.
3. Reduce jarring of the knees and legs on downhills.
4. Provide good upper body exercise and assist walking similar to the arm actions of a runner.
5. Can be used for protection if needed - not that I've ever needed them for that. In fact for dogs, I have disassembled them on the fly because some dogs have learned to dislike walkers with poles.

I always use rubber tips to proceed along the track quietly. Being quiet means that you actually are more likely to see birds and other wildlife and also less likely to disturb those living in houses along the track.

The click clacking of non-rubber tipped poles is admittedly, a major annoyance to many and I really don't know why some pole walkers enjoy making as much noise as possible.

Poles do take getting used to and it is worth watching instructional videos to learn how to use them properly. The Pacer Pole website has video links but so do other manufacturers and brands.

With or without poles, it is your Camino!

Cheers
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
I don't know how rugged the Picos are. Maybe check for some YouTube videos done by hikers.

In the mountains I hike in at home I take one pole only. The mountains are very rugged and I often need a hand free to grab rocks or trees. I don't do well with two poles and using just one on easier trails slows me down. On the easy trails I usually carry the pole in my hand horizontally. My hands cup naturally so the pole just balances; I don't have to grip it.

The pole is more important to me for balance going downhill. Going uphill without a pole you can push against your thigh to get some extra power but going downhill without a pole if you fall foward you fall far.

For kicks this video of the Appalachian Trail in the state of New Hampshire shows some of the terrain that Peg and I have hiked in (though the rough stuff is mostly done just by me now and not as often.) Oh yeah, the last few minutes in the video just eases by Mahoosuc Notch, considered the toughest mile on the AT. Search YouTube for entertaining videos of that.

YouTube video id: vmgM4Bj7EN0
 

Cary

Member
Camino(s) past & future
del Norte/Primitivo May 2019
Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
I dislike using trekking poles also. When I first began climbing the 14,000' peaks in Colorado I used them with every climb. But finally decided they were actually just slowing me down. I am much happier leaving them at home.

I'd say if they don't feel good and helpful then just forgo them.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
I am coming from cross country skiing and the poles I use where developed for summer training. It supposed to take up to 40 % of you weight and you use your upper body differently and supporting your walk. But you need to have them adjusted right and know how to use them, just like in skiing this takes practice.
On my Camino I left my little lekis at home rushing to the airport and half point to Santiago my joints starting to hurt since I was not used walking long distances without them. I found a decathlon and got myself a generic pair. It saved me.
Now again it’s a technique and it’s not walking you poles by tragging them behind or spearing up 🍁 on the way. How it’s supposed to help steap hills down I am not sure.
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Your arms should not be tired or hurt after walking all day with them. The grip is supposed to be very light, not a death grip and the planting of them is more of a glide not a stomping. They definitely do help and they most certainly are NOT a fad. They have been used for decades. It may seem like a fad to new walkers but it's not.
 
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HighlandsHiker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015 & 2016); Portuguese (2017); Le Puy/Norte/Primitivo/Verde (2018). 2019 - San Salvador+
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
Anamya - Just an idea - maybe your physiotherapist cousin could help you with a program to really build up muscle in your thighs/calves. I've been amazed by the fact that although I'd done long training every year and hiked with poles on all Caminos, a trainer here helped me build super-thigh strength this year over and above what running and yoga does, and it's all so much easier now with the much-increased thigh strength that I'm hiking in the mountains where I live without poles now and doing the West Highland Way next month without poles. I got the idea to build up super-strength when hiking some extreme inclines on rock and mud with a tough little Frenchwoman on the Le Puy last year - she never used poles and was a dynamo.
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Ditch the poles. Here are three videos of the Camino Lebaniego. The hardest part looks to be the second half of etapa 2.
I watched those videos just the other day, while researching about the trail! They are very good (luckyly i understand Spanish), and the comments are helpful. :) Second half of etapa 2 in indeed what seems the steepest, towards Cabanes.
I wish there were more posts in the Vadiniense/Lebaniego area of the forum, I'm SOOOOO excited to be in this trail!

Anamya - Just an idea - maybe your physiotherapist cousin could help you with a program to really build up muscle in your thighs/calves. I've been amazed by the fact that although I'd done long training every year and hiked with poles on all Caminos, a trainer here helped me build super-thigh strength this year
Totally agreed, and we actually are working on that! We often exercise together, and my legs are reasonably strong. In younger years I could easily legpress 200kg, these days I'm happy with 150kg-something. My issue is usually with uphills, and we are working on that. Lots of stairs and hills for me in preparation for this walk!
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Not everyone needs or likes using walking poles. If you don´t like them, don´t use them. Simple.
I tend to agree.

Personally I love them and simply could not walk a Camino without them due to bad knees and achilles.
I use them every step of the way. Up, down, flat. Adjusting the length as required and popping the rubber tips on and off without even needing to slow down.

But.......... maybe it just takes a bit of perseverance?

For Example.

Cross Country Skiing. In my military days I had to try it. I was absolutely exhausted after 30 minutes :oops:.
I looked at the instructor and suggested I just take off the skis and run through the snow, as it would take a lot less effort! :(

I have no doubt it is great, and fairly effortless once mastered. I never could master it. Downhill skiing? No problem...........

Windsurfing. Similar story. I spent the first day falling off the board and climbing back on again.
Absolutely exhausted! I would never get the hang of this!

But on day 2!! Suddenly I got the sense of balance required. I was zooming back on forth on the lake and having great fun............

So re the Poles. I would suggest it is merely a matter of technique. But maybe not everyone can master it.
Rather like me and those infernal cross country skis! :mad:

P.S. My observation is that 'many' people on the Camino (more than 50%) don't know how to use them properly and hence get zero benefit from them.
 

martin1ws

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Somport to Finisterre Jul-Aug 2018
I surely can, and that's exactly the part I dislike! Just feels like energy I waste that could have been used otherwise!

Probably I should just admit that i tried, but no, they are not for me....
So probably they are not for you now, if you are young, healthy and fit enough. You do not need to carry the additional weight then...

And if the time will come... hopefully not until many years have passed... and you think that you need assistance for walking... you can try it again... and probably the poles will help you then.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.
@Anamya
You have tried them and you don't like them. Ditch them. I tried a pair of walking poles in the mountains here and they didn't work for me. I have been using one wooden pole for many years. The pair of metal poles are moldering in my closet until I decide that I am too old to use just one pole (I am 70 now). I shall be walking through Fuenfria Pass on the Madrid (higher than the Napoleon and the Somport) this fall, using my one wooden pole. It will do what I need it to do: help me keep my balance when the walking is tricky and take a little weight off my knees when I am going downhill. I found using two metal poles very uncomfortable to my shoulders and of no particular use. I will also be wearing my boots, although I need to buy a new pair soon. My last pair are pretty well worn out, after 2,000 k or so. My body knows what it likes and I shall again walk through Spain this fall on the Madrid, Frances, and Invierno to Santiago. Walk your own walk and enjoy your rhythm. Buen camino.
 

HighlandsHiker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015 & 2016); Portuguese (2017); Le Puy/Norte/Primitivo/Verde (2018). 2019 - San Salvador+
I watched those videos just the other day, while researching about the trail! They are very good (luckyly i understand Spanish), and the comments are helpful. :) Second half of etapa 2 in indeed what seems the steepest, towards Cabanes.
I wish there were more posts in the Vadiniense/Lebaniego area of the forum, I'm SOOOOO excited to be in this trail!



Totally agreed, and we actually are working on that! We often exercise together, and my legs are reasonably strong. In younger years I could easily legpress 200kg, these days I'm happy with 150kg-something. My issue is usually with uphills, and we are working on that. Lots of stairs and hills for me in preparation for this walk!
You're my superhero, Anamya, for being able to leg press so much weight!!! I'm doing barbell squats, weighted walking lunges, prisoner squats and weighted sumo squats, which seem to help a great deal (I seem to be squatting a lot, lol). Maybe I should get cracking on those leg presses!
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
I'm doing barbell squats, weighted walking lunges, prisoner squats and weighted sumo squats, which seem to help a great deal
I do the weighed lunges and a fair bit of squats s well, but I'm surely not as good as you! My cousin taught me how to do them with proper form, and a few already feel like a big workout!

As probably most people in this forum, my favourite workout is walking... long distances... in Spain :D
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I do the weighed lunges and a fair bit of squats s well, but I'm surely not as good as you! My cousin taught me how to do them with proper form, and a few already feel like a big workout!
Do a couple for me will you.........
Just going to pour another G&T ;)
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Same here Robo
My marathon running hubby dead on skies.
Me windsurfing looking like a comedy slapstick version falling in crawling back on the board hoisting up the sail falling back in for two days. But in the end looking like a barrel being transported by sail.
Jogging simply not my thing, swimming for 4 h non stop no problem.
Ana
Maybe a climbing community can be a good resource for technical hints
It’s in German but with an online translator understandable has a links in English too.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
@Anamya, if you haven't already left for Spain at the time of the Apr Canberra Friends of the Camino meeting, bring your poles and we can see if there are any changes that might be made to adjustment, technique, etc that would improve your walking pole experience.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF April 2016 April - Jun
Del Norte, Finesterre 2018 May - Jun
I surely can, and that's exactly the part I dislike! Just feels like energy I waste that could have been used otherwise!

Probably I should just admit that i tried, but no, they are not for me. I may take one pole to the Lebaniego, just to assist with the uphills, and then donate the pair to someone that can make better use of them :)
Great idea! One for uphill push or downhill balance. I'm quite envious of people walking WITHOUT them!! I find I HAVE to use two otherwise I get slower and more tired without them. I walk extremely well and properly with them and have noticed how some folk look uncoordinated and they seem to be only for decoration.
Oh... to have pole freedom😏
 

susanawee

susanawee
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
Ditch them.

Up until the last 5 years I never used trekking poles. When I started using them, I found they provided benefit and I enjoy having them along. I put on and remove the rubber tips on Camino as needed.

If you do not like them, feel disadvantaged while using them, find them creating problems, etc, then I would not put up with them any more than an ill fitting shoe or backpack. Go with what you know and makes things better, not worse.

I am not going to presume that you need to be taught better, have more practice, attach rabbit's feet to the poles, or chant in a certain way. . . If they are not working, they are not working. I tend to think that a lot of pilgrims employ trekking poles because they think it is 'part of the Camino thing to do'. It is obvious as you watch them that they are like an appendix, sort of a useless appendage.

So remove your appendix trekking poles from your person and do what is good for you :)
I love your answers to all sorts of questions here on this forum' davebugg' because they always have practical answers and are full of just plain common sense. So, I give you a vote of thanks.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago - May-June 2019
(Walking)
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.


Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
I hear you perfectly! I hate them too! :) (With all due respect to the ones who have chosen otherwise.)
In my opinion, they are completely redundant, a ballast if you will. So, my personal advice is, just ditch them and ENJOY your Camino! You'll feel free and relaxed.
However, like everything, one can try and see if it works.
 
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susanawee

susanawee
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
I hear you perfectly! I hate them too! :) (With all due respect to the ones who have chosen otherwise.)
In my opinion, they are completely redundant, a ballast if you will. So, my personal advice is, just ditch them and ENJOY your Camino! You'll feel free and relaxed.
However, this is if for the ones that are healthy and fairly trained. I understand that for older and weaker people those poles may come in handy.
I think that I very much prefer the way Davebugg has responded to this question.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago - May-June 2019
(Walking)
I think that I very much prefer the way Davebugg has responded to this question.
Well, it's only a matter of opinions. Everybody has one. There's no right or wrong. And you didn't need to express your opinion on my opinion :) But the concept I wanted to express was basically almost the same as Davebugg's, 'Do what works for you.'

Take care, and buen camino!
 
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DebraS.

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June/ July (2015) - incomplete
Frances June (2018)
I really thought I would hate them. I debated on using them on my last camino and decided to carry them and give them away if they became a pain. At first, I felt like I was just carrying extra weight. I used them a few days then tried walking a day without them. Wow, I was surprised I was more tired without them and my feet hurt more. I noticed it worked better when I really didn't try to "use" them. Just let them land naturally without using them to pull me. I noticed I also had better balance which I think really does help reduce the foot pain by the end of the day.

I guess they are not for everyone though. I found my decision to like them only after a few days. If after a few days of using them, you don't like them or need them...then why use them?
 

Karl G

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2019 - Somport to Santiago de Compostela
Interesting thread - having used poles as it were second nature and getting a great deal of benefit from them it would have never seemed possible others found them difficult to use. Now I know otherwise. So, as @davebugg says, “...do what is good for you.”

It’s your Camino, travel the way that works best for you. :)
 
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mikebet

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
I think a lot depends on your upper body strength. You can actually help propel yourself uphill and take a lot of effort off your quads by using a "nordic" technique and pushing off strongly. This works great for me 'cause my arms are still functioning when my legs have turned to jelly. And with slightly bum knees the poles can take up some of the strain for me going downhill. The rest of the time they are a very minor burden. If you are strong of leg, weak of arm and have good balance you probably won't want to bother with them. As always there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation.
 

WayWalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2016
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
I could tell you all about poles and why I like them but that's about me. From what you said I would tell you to ditch the poles. Doesn't sound like your thing. Sort of like fitting a round peg in a square hole. If it's so important why not just carry one pole like a walking stick?
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
My father, now 75, refuses to use hiking poles and has had zero problems in the mountains so far. Not specifically on the Camino.
 

Stroller123

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning Italy to Finisterre and back (20xx)
The poles are always with me.
I mostly use both of them usually for long/regular stretches; sometimes just one to keep vegetation and spiderwebs off my face; sometimes they are strapped to my pack because I need both hands free to climb over boulders or over very steep sections.
Using them also prevents my hands to swell and they keep my tent/tarp up.
And I push a lot with them.
Many years ago I always used a traditional alpenstock, but now I find it too heavy and it doesn't fit in the car boot.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

(SNIP)

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
If you're happier without poles, don't use them. There is no law that says you must, and we are all different. I walk in sandals and light shoes, others prefer boots, there is no right or wrong to either of those. Similarly there is no right or wrong to using poles, only personal preference.
 

Redvespablur

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo April/May 2016
Voie Littorale May 2020
I don’t like them but I think they allow me to wear a much lighter shoe without risk of ankle turning. The weight off my feet seemed to help particularly on the downs and with multiple days of consecutive walking.

For sake of vanity would walk without for a few days and bring out for climbs and descent s as required.

We are early 50s and averaged 32 km a day on Norte/Primitivo so route and time on feet might contribute to ones opinion.
 

blamoca

Camino Frances Sept 2018
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I prefer poles with angled cork grips more natural and comfortable. I started out using my poles always, then ended generally only up hills..that I believe just with the stamina and fitness you develop by the end. I use them 'every other step'; for me more frequent is unnatural and more taxing than beneficial. I saw others placing them step for step 'tic a tac '... it seemed and looked and sounded unnatural (for me)...one pilgrim even did so departing a restaurant all the way from tableside as he stood up thru patio out to the trail, like they were glued to him. Even though retractable, when not using them I could roll them together via the straps and found the 'centre of balance' if you will to just carry them swinging in one hand, without strain. I couldn't imagine using the traditional wooden stick it would be too demanding for me. Then again you can always improvise as you need...I saw a peregrina using a corn stalk, 1-2 feet taller than her..it had roots and dirt and all still hanging from bottom like she just yanked it from a corn field. Poles can be helpful for balance to lean on , to stretch, even for a laundry line, but if they don't work for you then don't use them.
 

Laura Newell Smith

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances spring( 2017). Vía de plata Spring (2018)
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
It sounds to me like you are overthinking the use of poles. I got used to mine by just casually walking around the neighborhood with them. I try not to grip the poles to tightly. This lessens the arm fatigue. Sometimes I use them in parallel to my feet( right foot and right pole forward at the same time, then left foot left pole); sometimes opposite to my feet; sometimes both forward, then both back; pretty random motion. My girlfriend tried this casual approach and has had much better success than when she tried to follow instructions.

Note : The PICOS are real mountains. Portions of the route are fairly easy, on wide paths, other parts are steep and slick in the rain. I can think of 3 times when my poles saved me from a very serious fall. Having one extra point of support saved the day. Good luck
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
I prefer poles with angled cork grips more natural and comfortable.
<SNIP>
Whereas I hate those, they kill my wrists. I'm now mostly not using poles any more since my knee has been mended.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
@Anamya
There is only one purpose for which I wish I could use a pair of walking poles, and that has nothing to do with walking caminos. As I age, I am moving towards ultralight as much as I can, especially for backpacking. So many ultralight tents are designed to set up with walking poles for support. I don't see how I could make them work with just one piece of wood whose length cannot be adjusted. Fortunately, I have a good and fairly light tent for mountain use, so I can currently go on walking with my one wooden staff, in the mountains or on camino. I know that I really appreciate the wooden staff for challenging stream crossings, as it will not get water inside it and collapse and it will not easily break. Both these things have happened to me during river crossings with a metal walking stick. So I continue with what I know works for me. But there is always a balance between using the familiar old and trying out the new. Good for you for giving walking sticks a go. And good for you if you trust your own experience and decide that this new thing is just not for you.
 

MaryLP

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago - May 2014
St. Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona - Starting September 27, 2015
As always, everyone's Camino is their own. That said I saw many pilgrims walking with poles incorrectly adjusted for height. Makes a huge difference. I do know, however that I never could not have made it from SJPP to Roncevalles without them. And I think that going downhill with them and walking from side to side saved my knees several days.
 

CaminoHimal

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None
Wow!! So many people commenting on poles! Let me add my two cents:

I hiked with poles for several years, including several treks in Nepal. They helped enough so I brought them and used them (sometimes, fitfully, on the toughest sections only). But they never really “sang” for me. I guess, despite watching many videos and trying hard, I never figured out how to use them properly. And, twice, I got horrible golfers elbows, requiring much expensive physical therapy.

Then I splurged and bought PACER POLES for my wife snd me just before our last Camino — based on recommendations in this site!

I LOVE THEM!!!! I SWEAR BY THEM, AS DOES MY WIFE.

Both of us used them literally for every step - every step - from SJPdP to Santiago. They helped me on the uphills, saved my aging knees on the downhills, and gave me a Real “jet boost” with every step.

Plus, they permanently improved my posture, which had slumped ALL my life. Now, eight months after my Camino, I still stand taller, with less back pain. That’s why some people call them “POSTURE POLES.” I can’t say enough nice, enthusiastic things about my poles. Both of us will use our PACER POLES when we walk the Camino Portugues next September.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte from Irun to Santander, Primitivo from Oviedo to Frances to Santiago September 2016
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?
Lighten up Life's too short! I'm 75 and been using poles for 20+ years. Get poles with long grips so you can constantly raise or lower your hands as the terrain shifts.
 

robertt

Active Member
I like to waddle and dawdle, with just the odd acceleration (for some reason uphill once my body is warm). Having inherited poles at my first gite out of Le Puy, I kept using them, but, really, they're not for me. Descending to the Allier River, for example, I found them a hindrance as I couldn't use my hands to scramble and crouch.

There were times when I concentrated on my stride and speed and poles seemed to work for that. But concentrating on my stride and speed spoils my dawdling and waddling. Next time, a still lighter pack and no poles.

Having said all that, few are lazier and slower than I. (Took time to get used to being overtaken on the left by all those Europeans, Americans and Koreans, but I cinched it in the end.) If I'd been refused a credencial at Santiago I would have taken it as a kind of negative tribute to my lack of effort. But those nice people gave me one twice!

So take poles if in doubt. You can always donate them.
 

cmk033

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jan 21~Feb 27, 2019
I don't use them. I like to have my hands free when walking and without them your brain will also exercise to coordinate your body better.
It is one more really in cumbersome thing to carry around and most easily lose item. I do not follow those carrying them to close as they nearly poked my eyes out with steal point, many times.
I walked without them all my life and had not issue. It is matter of getting used to, pole or no poles.
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
I use to cross country ski competitively so trekking poles feel completely natural to me. I can't even imagine walking long distances without them. I have carbon fibre ones and when I decide to eat up some long flat distances I can go at a fast pace for literally hours with little fatigue. I load the pole like a spring and push off and the springiness of the carbon fibre literally propels me forward.
They make ascent and decent of hills so much easier and safer.
In general from my observation roughly 80% of the people I see using trekking poles are not really getting much benefit from them. Completely wrong technic and improperly adjusted. Or I see the same people on different days with the poles collapsed on their packs not being used.
If they are not in your hands almost 100% of the time you are walking, you are probably better off without them. They are just extra weight for you to carry.
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
However, this is if for the ones that are healthy and fairly trained. I understand that for older and weaker people those poles may come in handy.
There are no awards for the dumb comment of the day on this forum, but if there was you would be the winner.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago - May-June 2019
(Walking)
There are no awards for the dumb comment of the day on this forum, but if there was you would be the winner.
I'm sorry that wasn't meant in a bad way :( I was just saying that basically depends on several, different variables, and what works for some, may not work for others.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I'm sorry that wasn't meant in a bad way :( I was just saying that basically depends on several, different variables, and what works for some, may not work for others.
I understand what you were trying to say, and that you were attempting to give an example to underscore your point.

Can you see how it reads as being condescending and stereotypical, though? If you had left out the word 'older' in that sentence, you would have a legitimate point. The word 'older' made your sentence a specific statement about the totality of those within that age group, labeling them as being infirm.

That is why some might view what you wrote in a negative light.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I really appreciate all the comments and replies. And indeed, the thing is to do what we often say here in the forum: go with what works for you. So these poles may find a new home really soon :)
So, buen camino!
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
I'm sorry that wasn't meant in a bad way :( I was just saying that basically depends on several, different variables, and what works for some, may not work for others.
OK, Peace!
I agree gear choice is a highly personal thing be it trekking poles, boots, shoes or packs. There is no one 'correct' way to walk your Camino.
Just a note about the weaker comment though, I actually find since I have very good upper body strength I gain even more benefit from my poles. At almost 59 I still easily bench press my own weight and every day 100 push ups is part of my training along with other core building exercises.
 
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Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago - May-June 2019
(Walking)
I understand what you were trying to say, and that you were attempting to give an example to underscore your point.

Can you see how it reads as being condescending and stereotypical, though? If you had left out the word 'older' in that sentence, you would have a legitimate point. The word 'older' made your sentence a specific statement about the totality of those within that age group, labeling them as being infirm.

That is why some might view what you wrote in a negative light.
I understand and I officially apologize with all my heart! :( I really didn't mean to use 'older' in a negative way. I would never do that!
I'm also grateful and respectful, and I can learn a lot actually from people more experienced than me, in many different fields. Again, I feel really bad if someone may have misunderstood my wording. I was naive about that. :/ I didn't express myself very well, but I surely didn't want to offend anybody. Hope you guys are going to forgive me for my stupidity.

EDIT: I changed the last sentence so there won't be anymore misunderstanding.
 
Last edited:

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from SJPDP to Santiago - May-June 2019
(Walking)
OK, Peace!
I agree gear choice is a highly personal thing be it trekking poles, boots, shoes or packs. There is no one 'correct' way to walk your Camino.
Just a note though about the weaker comment though, I actually find since I have very good upper body strength I gain even more benefit from my poles. At almost 59 I still easily bench press my own weight and every day 100 push ups is part of my training along with other core building exercises.
I understand and I officially apologize with all my heart! :( I really didn't mean to use 'older' in a negative way. I would never do that!
I'm also grateful and respectful, and I can learn a lot actually from people more experienced than me, in many different fields. Again, I feel really bad if someone may have misunderstood my wording. I was naive about that. :/ I didn't express myself very well, but I surely didn't want to offend anybody. Hope you guys are going to forgive me for my stupidity.

EDIT: I changed the last sentence so there won't be anymore misunderstanding.
 
Last edited:

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
I don't use them. I like to have my hands free when walking and without them your brain will also exercise to coordinate your body better.
It is one more really in cumbersome thing to carry around and most easily lose item. I do not follow those carrying them to close as they nearly poked my eyes out with steal point, many times.
I walked without them all my life and had not issue. It is matter of getting used to, pole or no poles.
Yes I Left my pool after having lunch.
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
I never got the hang of playing a piano. Everyone else also should quit that thing.
Thank goodness babies keep trying to walk after both seeing fellow babies fail at it and experiencing numerous failures themselves before they get it.
A Camino would be pretty tough if we all still crawled!
 

Eric G

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
1st timer
Backgroud: Up to this day, two caminos and many other travelling around the world without walking poles.
Simply put, I hate them: feel uncoordinated, tired, dislike the noise even with rubber tips - hate them so much that i'm concious of being biased against them.

Situation: we are going on the Camino Lebaniego in April. Lots of mountains. I gave in and got a pair of poles to help me on the uphills. I occasionally borrowed my partner's pole when going uphil in previous trails, and there are benefits in using them, so well, decided to try.
I am training with them for two months now. I'm watching videos on how to position. I had them fitted at the store. I asked help from my cousin who is a physiotherapist.

And I still feel extremely tired, with sore arms and very irritated by the end of any walk with those sticks of doom. When people ask me "but you are getting extra support, right?" Sincerely, I don't know. I totally don't feel it, even though they are apparently well fitted. Only feel it when going uphill.

Question: Should I simply ditch them and go as I always did, pole free? Or are the Picos de Europa really challenging and I would benefit from the uphill support?I completed the Lebaniego in September. I prefer the poles and find them particularly helpful on steep grades in bad conditions like mud. It's not necessary to have them if you prefer not too. Maybe the best thing to do is just take one.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Given your personal incompatibility with the things, I'd suggest ditching them.

The only real alternatives are either a hiking staff, or nothing at all.

I'd suggest a staff -- and really, it's just a piece of wood, so if it doesn't work, then just throw it away into the forest or something.

But if you want to try, I'd suggest a simplest possible ash staff, and a staff length up into your armpit.

Cool thing with staves is if your "staff arm" gets tired, just swap it to the other arm.
 
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Linda Fantillo

RiverWalker
Camino(s) past & future
September/October 14, May 17, September 18
Even though I'm sure I look stupid walking with them, I love my PacerPoles.
Wouldn't be without them. Saved me from falling so many times and added bonus, if you are walking the way you are supposed to walk with them, standing tall with shoulders down and gently back, your posture just gets better and better!
 

susanawee

susanawee
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
I understand and I officially apologize with all my heart! :( I really didn't mean to use 'older' in a negative way. I would never do that!
I'm also grateful and respectful, and I can learn a lot actually from people more experienced than me, in many different fields. Again, I feel really bad if someone may have misunderstood my wording. I was naive about that. :/ I didn't express myself very well, but I surely didn't want to offend anybody. Hope you guys are going to forgive me for my stupidity.

EDIT: I changed the last sentence so there won't be anymore misunderstanding.
As one of the 'oldies' here and, most definitely 'more weaker' this year, I do admit to being upset by your earlier wording, but thought not to draw attention to it. Thankyou from one of us, for apologising and, just to help you feel easier, it is very easily done. :)
 

cmk033

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jan 21~Feb 27, 2019
In robotics, especially for humanoid robot, trying to have a robot walk on two feet is the biggest challenge. It takes great deal of effort in coordinating from main processor. Imbalance has to be recognized, then corrected at different components of body. We human, take walking for granted but walking on two feet takes lots of brain work coordination with whole body components, like arms, neck and back, especially legs, foot and toe. Having poles may make walking easier but takes away other component in walking exercise, in my opinion.
 

Old Kiwi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Last walked St Francis "2016"
Walking St Francis again "2019"
I can see where walking poles might come in handy for people unsteady on their feet either up or down hill. I find it hard to believe they are necessary on the flat. In the past when tramping (trecking for those from the USA) I have taken a branch out of the bush (forest) to help me across a river with a full pack and then put it back in the bush on the other side. On steep tracks in the bush I would rather have my hands free to grasp the odd tree branch or whatever to help me up or down. I am 75 and have been doing this for a long time. A university professor friend who was also a tramper once did a study on walking poles under different conditions and in the end concluded that they could be helpful in some situations, but you spent a lot of time carrying them on flat ground where they were not needed. It is not so bad if you carry them collapsed and attached to your pack but if you continue to use them on the flat you end up expending a huge amount of energy lifting both your arm and your pole at each step whereas a normal (?) walker with their arms by their sides or with just a natural swing does not use any at all. Calculations showed that you could use 40% more energy using poles up or down a slope than without and up to 20% more energy just using them on the flat. This could work out, over a 25 kilometre day, of using the same amount of energy over that distance as a person without poles would use to cover 30 kilometres. No wonder some people are tired when they reach the next albergue. Please do not think I am running down people with any sort of disability which makes it possible for them to participate in walking a Camino but it just seems to me that a lot of people seem to think they are a necessary thing nowdays. Please do not crucify me, it is only my humble opinion.
 

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