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

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
As a fellow kiwi and a convert to 2 poles, I can say they honestly changed my Camino life.
Better for my knees, my back, and I get less tired. And my fingers dont swell up like sausages. I arrive now with the energy to look around and explore. My arms get nice and toned, and I use my sticks as tools along the way, they make washing lines, curtain rails etc
For years I couldn't see the point either, but now I am a complete convert. I wouldn't walk a Camino without them now.
They feel so natural now, I cant understand why it took me so long.

However I see a lot of people using poles incorrectly.
Last weekend I walked the Oxfam Trailwalk in Whakatane. Its a pretty grueling 100km all terrain walk. People fit broadly into two groups. Those who are old enough to know they need to train, and those who say "its only a walk, how hard can it be".
The latter are the people you see broken at various points during the trail. They are also the people who think that buying sticks will compensate for them not training (I am a little harsh here but I have the benefit of overhearing many teams' conversations). This year in particular there were a lot of young people with poles they should just have left at home, for all the good they were doing. Poles that weren't height adjusted. People who carried them just off the ground, dragged behind, stabbed the ground in front, or used them like oars.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I SO don't like poles - there, I've said it. Sure, as a biped having one pole on descents gives stability - tripod beats bipod every time! - and I always do have one with me for those times.

No, it is the clicikity clickity clickity of pilgrims using two poles on completely normal level surfaces .. if you look at them they are leaning forward like old people going shopping .. and they give no benefit whatsoever (to the healthy).

You think they alleviate weight?? Nope! Try this at home - stand on your bathroom scale and press your poles down as hard as you possible can either side - any difference on the scale reading? Nope, none at all -

- don't get me wrong, they are great for stability on tricky terrain, and one pole is great for pointing things in the distance out to other people (though a pipe or pair of glasses is also good for that).

If poles were such a good thing you would see soldiers using them on route marches, weighed down as they are by some 60 + pounds of kit - do you see that? nope! of course not - it is merely Emperor's new clothes, brilliant marketing.

There my opinion ;)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
You think they alleviate weight?? Nope! Try this at home - stand on your bathroom scale and press your poles down as hard as you possible can either side - any difference on the scale reading? Nope, none at all -
@David this made me smile. Your observation about a test conducted this way is perfectly correct, but your conclusion is completely wrong. The reason that there will be no difference in doing a test as you have described is that the downward force exerted by the poles will be exactly matched by a reduction in the downward force exerted through your feet. Any redistribution of the forces by using poles cannot be measured as you have suggested. You are correct - you won't weigh any less using poles.

So what is happening and how might one test that? Pushing down on the poles will exert a force that is going to be transmitted through your wrists and arms to your upper body. You will effectively be lifting yourself up (just a little) by your shoulders. This will reduce the downward forces on all the joints below the shoulders. The best way of assessing how much this reduction is would be to stand on the scales, and places the poles on the floor beside the scales, and observe the difference as you increase the force on the poles. Alternatively, put the poles on the scales. Either way, you are now measuring the reduction in the forces being transmitted through your hips and knees.

Doug

ps. I rather suspect that the reasons poles are not regularly used by soldiers is that in their fighting role, they need both hands to be free to use a weapon. Some specialist troops, might have poles, but they will need to stow them us use their own weapon or crew a larger squad weapon.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Thanks Doug, though I did write to 'press the poles down as hard as you can either side' - my assumption being that all would assume I meant either side of the scales, not on the scales!! hahaha

as for soldiers - route marching isn't battle ready. They don't use them as they believe that they are a waste of time ;) - no specialist troops use poles unless they are standing on skis.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Remember that I said I was a one pole guy for my mountain hikes and did not use them on the level (or the CF). It's a personal preference. But regarding @Old Kiwi's post mentioning the energy study my thoughts were to neither accept or regret the energy study but to think that the energy expended is being done by more muscle groups. My thinking is that on the downhills especially this is fine as the tradeoff is that you are moving some forces from the knees to the arms. At the end of day it is easier to restore your energy levels than your knees. I haven't reached any conclusions about the uphill energy expenditure. As for the level, the extra energy usage might be going into speed. That could be worth it if it gets you a lower bunk. Anyway, the extra energy expended with pole usage might be worth it for it's benefits. Personal preference.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Here is a real scientific "real world" analysis, properly done in different conditions - though not weatring packs - the results?
"this was also the first study which attempted to assess the effect of trekking poles on performance outside of a laboratory. Based on our limited results, it seems as though trekking poles have little to no impact on outdoor, horizontal, unloaded walking efficiency."

Read it here - https://mtntactical.com/research/trekking-poles-make-efficient/
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte?
On my first camino in 2015 I used Leki Poles. I felt I needed them because after breaking a hip at iceskating I walked a little bit in " penguinstyle". These poles did not work so well with me, it did not feel natural. At the internet I found some information about Pacer Poles. The explanation was very convincing, I was very surprised that no on else came up before with the idea of these handshaped handles. I bought them and for me they made a big difference, compared to the Lekis I had. Walking with them comes very natural, using them is really "idiot proof". A disadvantage is that they only can be bought via internet, they are produced in the UK. I believe that their return policy is good, but I am not sure because I liked from the beginning.
 

Charles Johnson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2016
This may be late to the thread, but to me, sore arms is actually a good sign, it means your arms are helping support your weight. I've used poles on both Caminos. I use them differently for uphill (supporting my weight) and for downhill (for balance. ) On the flat stretches, I collapse them down and strap them to my mochilla. Hope this helps :) Buen camino!
 
How much weight are you likely to carry, if not much there is less use for them. I have not been on the Camino but have done several thousand miles in the US, EU and GB and now have Pacerpoles after many miles with hiking poles.
Poles do have other uses pushing back nettles and scrub; loss count how many times they have stopped a stumble turning into a fall.On the Appalachian Trail I started with no sticks, then cut a staff for a while then after a bit of knee ache went to two poles, need them for my shelter.
Millions of poles have been sold,millions cannot all be wrong or conned with the hype. I will try and find again a major study done on them. However it will always be HYOH- hike your own hike.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Here is a real scientific "real world" analysis, properly done in different conditions - though not weatring packs - the results?
"this was also the first study which attempted to assess the effect of trekking poles on performance outside of a laboratory. Based on our limited results, it seems as though trekking poles have little to no impact on outdoor, horizontal, unloaded walking efficiency."

Read it here - https://mtntactical.com/research/trekking-poles-make-efficient/
Thanks @David. Here's the followup (but on a 1 km trail with an average 47% slope with "athletes [loaded] with approximately 40% of their body weight".):

AT STEEP GRADES USING TREKKING POLES IS 20% EASIER AND 10% MORE EFFICIENT
https://mtntactical.com/research/steep-grades-hiking-trekking-poles-20-easier-10-efficient/
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
noticed it worked better when I really didn't try to "use" them. Just let them land naturally without using them to pull me.
You should be using the poles more to push you than pull you.
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.
I really discovered this last year on the Norte to change my technique on the uphill so that my poles were giving me a good push uphill.
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.
I find that my poles are almost always more helpful in my hands than as extra weight in my pack. They keep my fingers my from swelling and help to keep my arms toned. No way I'm going to let my legs have all the fun! 😅

BTW, I have Pacer Poles. I've never tried another kind.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 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.
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.
Most interesting. Could we see the "calculations" please? And a professor in which field?

Just back from a "tramp" through the local woods (uphill, downhill and on the flat using PacerPoles all through the walk) and thinking about recent posts regarding use of poles I came to the conclusion that:

I no longer lean to the left
I no longer stoop so my posture in general has improved (6'1" Englishman - we tend to stoop when our brethren are shorter than ourselves and only look up to Dutchmen)
I see more of my surroundings as I'm no longer looking at the ground in front of my toes all the time
My breathing is easier
Ascents are less taxing
At the end of a walk I feel more refreshed
I get less tingling in my hands* as they're elevated all the time (* side effect of post-stroke medication)

It took a little time to stop myself from charging along on the flat at full speed but, now that's under control, I feel quite comfortable with them.
 

Anna Cameron

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances sept-oct 2018
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%"
I started walking with poles when I joined a Nordic Walking group, recommended by my physio. Nordic walking is an established and beneficial activity/exercise in Northern Europe and much-promoted by physiotherapists and exercise physicians. It was a good decision for me, to support therapy I need to manage chronic health problems. And, happily, all the training helped enormously on my first Camino last year. Not a con, when poles are used appropriately.
 
Heather at Pacerpoles as good info on this subject.
Pole use especially going uphill or downhill the quadruped approach certainly helps me. Used correctly you can observe yourself how the poles are assisting by using the upper body muscles to lift the torso and backpack, aiding the quadraceps. Clearly there must be an extra energy depletion by using these extra muscles. It is less on the flat but the lifting by the quads and pole is still experienced.
Is there a religion parallel here;-) for the believer there is no need for explanation, for the doubter there is never enough.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
Most interesting. Could we see the "calculations" please? And a professor in which field?

Just back from a "tramp" through the local woods (uphill, downhill and on the flat using PacerPoles all through the walk) and thinking about recent posts regarding use of poles I came to the conclusion that:

I no longer lean to the left
I no longer stoop so my posture in general has improved (6'1" Englishman - we tend to stoop when our brethren are shorter than ourselves and only look up to Dutchmen)
I see more of my surroundings as I'm no longer looking at the ground in front of my toes all the time
My breathing is easier
Ascents are less taxing
At the end of a walk I feel more refreshed
I get less tingling in my hands* as they're elevated all the time (* side effect of post-stroke medication)

It took a little time to stop myself from charging along on the flat at full speed but, now that's under control, I feel quite comfortable with them.
You have given me such a good laugh, Jeff. I will combine this with another post saying that sore arms is a good sign. My whole body is in tatters after only a 6km walk with nordic poles, and followed by half an hour in the gym, and 20 lengths of the pool. Ok, so pacer poles? Do I need to investigate? Are they better than my regular, basic Leki? Go on, persuade me!
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Thanks @David. Here's the followup (but on a 1 km trail with an average 47% slope with "athletes [loaded] with approximately 40% of their body weight".):

AT STEEP GRADES USING TREKKING POLES IS 20% EASIER AND 10% MORE EFFICIENT
https://mtntactical.com/research/steep-grades-hiking-trekking-poles-20-easier-10-efficient/

Brilliant! I would have posted that had I seen it!! - I do say they are great for ascents and descents, it is the tapping along the level with no knowledge of how to use them, just flapping and tapping, that I can't stand ;)
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
You have given me such a good laugh, Jeff. I will combine this with another post saying that sore arms is a good sign. My whole body is in tatters after only a 6km walk with nordic poles, and followed by half an hour in the gym, and 20 lengths of the pool. Ok, so pacer poles? Do I need to investigate? Are they better than my regular, basic Leki? Go on, persuade me!
I could never be persuaded to use two poles - they always seemed to push me to go faster than I liked.

A single pole was enough for me.

The first walk with the PPs was a revelation. Once I'd got over the co-ordination problems ("You look like a baby giraffe trying to find balance") which probably explains my lack of waltzing skills too

You do not grip a PP like a conventional pole, in fact you don't grip them at all. There are no straps either. The PP handle is canted forwards, is molded to fit the hand and has a "shelf" for the butt of your palm to rest upon - it was this that made me realise I lean to the left as there was more pressure on my left hand than my right.

The technique with PPs is to keep the spine straight, the head aloft and the shoulders back. You don't slump or lean forward. You don't reach too far forward with the PP either.

On the downside the shaped handle is less compact and I'd worry about having to ship them as check in lugguage if I did another Camino (although @trecile seems to manage well enough)

Price wise PPs are in the upper range (£79 for a pair of the standard model) and only available from the makers over the internet. If you can find somebody locally who has some to try them out do so.

My Leki pole now gathers dust in the umbrella stand but won't be thrown away as it has a Camino Stick Skin on it.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
Thanks Doug, though I did write to 'press the poles down as hard as you can either side' - my assumption being that all would assume I meant either side of the scales, not on the scales!! hahaha

as for soldiers - route marching isn't battle ready. They don't use them as they believe that they are a waste of time ;) - no specialist troops use poles unless they are standing on skis.
@David, then I would suggest that individuals would observe a substantial decrease in their measured 'weight', rather than the result you suggest of observing no change. I have done similar measurements in the past, and did so again just for the fun of it. I was able to reduce my measured weight by over 20 kg using two poles simultaneously. I don't suggest that this level of reduction could be maintained for long periods, but clearly the suggestion you made earlier is just not sustainable.

As for your assessment of why poles are not being used in various armies, let me note that I think the issue is far more complex than you suggest. How you justify your claim to know what soldiers believe, other than imbibing with a few squaddies at your local, is beyond me.

Here is a real scientific "real world" analysis, properly done in different conditions - though not weatring packs - the results?
"this was also the first study which attempted to assess the effect of trekking poles on performance outside of a laboratory. Based on our limited results, it seems as though trekking poles have little to no impact on outdoor, horizontal, unloaded walking efficiency."

Read it here - https://mtntactical.com/research/trekking-poles-make-efficient/
Thanks @David. Here's the followup (but on a 1 km trail with an average 47% slope with "athletes [loaded] with approximately 40% of their body weight".):

AT STEEP GRADES USING TREKKING POLES IS 20% EASIER AND 10% MORE EFFICIENT
https://mtntactical.com/research/steep-grades-hiking-trekking-poles-20-easier-10-efficient/
I think it is great that MTI, which appears to be a one man coaching organisation that doesn't employ a single scientist, has done some very preliminary work on this. It would have more credibility if it were conducted by appropriately qualified researchers, peer reviewed and with sample sizes where statistical significance would be not be the methodological issue it clearly was with sample sizes of four and three (in the later article). These are nice on-line articles, but hardly the stuff of real scientific research. I read both articles, and must admit that I was dismayed that you thought that this was properly conducted scientific analysis.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
There are no straps either.
They do have a strap of sorts, made of shock cord. I just loop it loosely on my wrists, then if I stop to take a picture or something the poles kind of hang from my wrists so that I don't drop them
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
They do have a strap of sorts, made of shock cord. I just loop it loosely on my wrists, then if I stop to take a picture or something the poles kind of hang from my wrists so that I don't drop them
Mine just have bits of orange string 😞
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Thanks Doug, though I did write to 'press the poles down as hard as you can either side' - my assumption being that all would assume I meant either side of the scales, not on the scales!! hahaha

as for soldiers - route marching isn't battle ready. They don't use them as they believe that they are a waste of time ;) - no specialist troops use poles unless they are standing on skis.
You've not come across the Burmese Army Trekking Stick then? Designed by the wonderously named Sir Jeffrey Hillpig-Smyth (I'm not kidding here) for British Special Forces in Burma during WW2.

53873 53874

It unscrews in the centre for ease of transportation - Sir Jeffrey obviously foresaw the coming of Ryanair and the need for carry-on equipment (no sharp points!)
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Before any more flack comes in for having a different opinion can I say again that I have mentioned before that on rough terrain I think a pole for stability is a good idea? Burmese army pole for instance - tripod better than bipod (ask a Kangaroo) every time - and I use mine for that.
My point was the leaning forward clackity clackity on level surfaces where it is apparent that the poles are not being used as 'devices' just swung and therefore superfluous.

So - I don't like pole use - my opinion.

@doug - you must have seriously strong arms to lower your weight by 20kgs on a bathroom scales - and, I know you were being flippant, but were you able to do that you know that you would not be able to do similar walking. - oh, and I don't go to pubs and therefore don't drink with soldiers.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Kiwi, the only hikers who really *need* poles or a stick or a staff are those who need a stick of some kind in daily life in the first place.

But generally though, if it's not for a support need, then using them in that way as a hiker means you're using them wrong.

You can use either poles or a staff as an aid towards propulsion itself, placing them at an angle and pushing backwards as you step forwards.

But on the flat, if you're not speed walking, you only put them down very lightly, and use them more for balance and punctual support needs than anything else -- if you're constantly pressing down on them but don't need the support, then that's exactly how to misuse them.

The debate is anyway irrelevant to those of us with bad knees and so on. We just need them, pure & simple.

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.
The only study that I'm aware of that measured these things was methodologically flawed, mostly by virtue of making measurements from test subjects that were inexpert in using them, who certainly didn't need them, and in lab conditions having little to do with those encountered out in the wild.

Still, using them wrong would indeed lead to such results.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Before any more flack comes in for having a different opinion can I say again that I have mentioned before that on rough terrain I think a pole for stability is a good idea? Burmese army pole for instance - tripod better than bipod (ask a Kangaroo) every time - and I use mine for that.
My point was the leaning forward clackity clackity on level surfaces where it is apparent that the poles are not being used as 'devices' just swung and therefore superfluous.

So - I don't like pole use - my opinion.

@doug - you must have seriously strong arms to lower your weight by 20kgs on a bathroom scales - and, I know you were being flippant, but were you able to do that you know that you would not be able to do similar walking. - oh, and I don't go to pubs and therefore don't drink with soldiers.
TBH I don't know that Sir Jeffrey was even a real person - I saw these on sale oh, about 20 years ago, in the UK and then a few months ago spotted one in a friend's hall stand.
He'd brought it back from Thailand where he'd bought it for about £5 in a curio shop in a Thai market. It's a one of a kind and is Sir Jeffrey's actual stick from 1941! There's even a little brass escutcheon on it bearing his name: "Sir Jefferey Hillpig-Smyth" (sic)
Oddly, when he went back to the market a few days later, there was another one, similarly badged. Presumably that was Sir Jeffrey's spare, in case he lost the original. Well you would, wouldn't you?


(Oh, and it's "flak" BTW ;))
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
So Doug, does that mean that you don't think that 80 kg athletes carrying 32 kg packs up slopes like the Portomarin staircase will benefit from trekking poles? ;)
I think anyone who uses poles properly will get benefit - up, down and on the flat. Although anyone carrying 40% of their body mass on the camino might need other assistance!

My point was the leaning forward clackity clackity on level surfaces where it is apparent that the poles are not being used as 'devices' just swung and therefore superfluous.
I completely agree with you. This always seems to be an utter waste of time as well as being extremely annoying to everyone else.

@doug - you must have seriously strong arms to lower your weight by 20kgs on a bathroom scales - and, I know you were being flippant, but were you able to do that you know that you would not be able to do similar walking. - oh, and I don't go to pubs and therefore don't drink with soldiers.
Over several measures, the best I got was a 26 kg reduction. But given this was a static test, and I was trying to see how much difference I could get, I don't think it in any way represents what might be achieved when walking.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Thinking on my static bathroom scales test - I don't think it even slightly resembles what could be a benefit when actually walking with poles used properly - one foot and one pole (press down firmly) and then the alternate ... my error.
 

Trish K

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Nov/Dec (2017)
Camino Norte (2019)
Camino VdlP (2019)
I already had these for trail running so took them with me on the CF and found they were perfect. They are extremely lightweight and fold up or unfold in a few seconds. I had them attached to the outside of my rucksack where I could reach for them without having to take my pack off, so it was really easy to just have them on the uphills and downhills and tuck them back away on the flats. They only weigh 115g.

 

Bruce and Margaret

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
The English Way
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?
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?
Hi. May I suggest that you carry them with you and use them as required. I find mine invaluable and hardly ever walk without them. Regards Bruce.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
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.
I'd like to see the cite for research.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
Threads like this can breakaway from being helpful to dogmatic. Usually it happens when personal preference and taste get confused with something being either 'Right' or 'Wrong'. Trekking pole threads are at risk for this.

It does not matter if I feel - subjectively - that trekking poles are of benefit. It does not matter that many of us hate the metallic clickity-clack of unshod carbide tips on hard surfaces. It does not matter if one hates using them, or adores using them. It does not matter that it makes one's skin crawl at the mere sight of trekking poles in motion.

It just does not matter. :)

What does matter is exactly what most of this thread's posts have done: provide points of input which are directed toward one goal: helping someone fill in the blanks with the information needed to consider their course of action.

This is one reason that I love this forum. :)❤
 
Any staff/portable prop will be useful to lean on, off-load weight and aid balance.
Important to realise that walking gait can be looked as a Science concerning Loads and Levers; trunk/backpack as the Load and limbs as Levers; these levers will be lifting-and-shifting the load around. It is either done by the legs alone or with some help by good use and positioning of poles.
The cross country skiers would not get far without poles and the mountaineers with their mountaineering step using the ice axe to lift up each step their torso and large packs.
With acknowledgement to Heather at PacerPoles who sometime ago pointed it out to me the more technical aspects of pole use.
 

DebraS.

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June/ July (2015) - incomplete
Frances June (2018)
You should be using the poles more to push you than pull you.
Maybe we each have our methods that work for us? I am happy with how my method works for me and do not plan to change it. :)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
Maybe we each have our methods that work for us? I am happy with how my method works for me and do not plan to change it. :)
Ha Ha, you sound like me. I was doing the pull thing, and it was working for me just fine. Then someone told me that I should be using the poles to push me up the hills. My reaction was the same as yours - this is the way that I do it, and it works for me. But then I tried, it. It was a bit awkward at first, but then I found on steep uphills, that using the poles to push worked better than using them to pull.
 

Lynda t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago May 2010
Lisbon to Santiago May 2012
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 found they really helped on the downhill bits. But I’m older and need all the help I can get. Yes they are a pain and get in the way sometimes, I have to put up with that bit.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
Dave's right. When it comes to opinions, that's all they are. Everyone's neither right nor wrong. And amongst all our opinions, hopefully you've gotten some helpful input, @Anamya .
And that if you are using the poles, that they're feeling less awkward.

get in the way sometimes
Speaking of awkwardness, something no-one seems to ever mention...or maybe it's just me?
It's possible to trip over one's own poles.
For example when fiddling with something in one's front pack with the poles danging from the wrists, or when walking in a fierce crosswind. I had the latter happen outside of Atapuerca, and as much as I like my poles - and as I said above, I do, very much - in that moment they were terrible. It was touch and go but somehow (fortunately) I stayed upright.

So for those of us who do like poles, it pays to take care. The more we get used to (and attached) to walking with poles, the more blase we can be about their downsides. Now I know: if the wind is blowing that hard from one side, the poles should go in the pack...
And...it hasn't happened yet, cross fingers...but if I ever fall as a result of fiddling with my camera or map while dangling the pole from my wrists (which I admittedly do from time to time if I am too lazy to stop)...well, it will serve me right.:oops: (You too.;) )
 

Finisterre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria 2001,
Porto 2006,
Valenca 2008,
Finisterre 2010,
SJdPP 2012,
Tui 2014.

No plans to return, yet.
I already had these for trail running so took them with me on the CF and found they were perfect. They are extremely lightweight and fold up or unfold in a few seconds. I had them attached to the outside of my rucksack where I could reach for them without having to take my pack off, so it was really easy to just have them on the uphills and downhills and tuck them back away on the flats. They only weigh 115g.

I think they are too light. I found the handle too squishy. But would and do use them for the odd fell running expedition. If l was to only have one set l would probably go with the leki Z carbon. Which are only 40+g heavier each and much better designed handles.
 

Solitaire

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007 Chemin du Puy 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 didn't use poles on my first camino, Frances, and felt fine but when I did Chemin de Jacques I was glad I had them as the Central Massif has some steep ups and downs. I found them helpful going up, I could feel the relief on my legs as my arms shared some of the effort and going down especially they made me much more sure, faster and again spreading the load took the impact out of my knees. Even on the flat I found just maintaining a swinging motion, with the tips never getting in front of my heels, became a familiar motion and I enjoyed the momentum so I didn't bother sticking them onto my pack. It is now second nature for me but I do spend a bit of time every time I start, to fiddle until the height and the wrist strap feels right.
I hope you find the right balance for you
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
If poles were such a good thing you would see soldiers using them on route marches, weighed down as they are by some 60 + pounds of kit - do you see that? nope! of course not - it is merely Emperor's new clothes, brilliant marketing.

There my opinion ;)
Exactly this. 👍
 

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