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Question (about walking poles) for older walkers

Time of past OR future Camino
May-June, 2022, Frances
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I expect that I am older than some people out there!

I have some arthritis in my thumbs, but haven't found it an issue with poles. You need to use the wrist straps properly - watch this video to see how to put them on - so you don't need to grip the poles tightly with your hands.

If you still have a problem, you might want to look at Pacer Poles, which are quite different, and said to be particularly good for arthritic hands.
 

JMac56

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF(2015)
CF+Fis(2016)
CP:Porto-SdC-Mux-Fis(2017)
CF:Leon-SdC(2017)
CF+Mux+Fis(2018)
I use a very loose grip on the handles and put my upper body weight on the wrist straps when striding out (or "gliding" as I call it). I actually find that I experience less soreness and swelling in my fingers when using my sticks on Camino. This is purely my experience and not intended to be any kind of medical advice. Buen Camino. 🚶‍♂️
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I use Pacer Poles, which I learned about on the forum. They were invented by a physiotherapist, and have an ergonomic handle which you don't need to grip tightly. Your hand just sort of rests on it.

 
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Time of past OR future Camino
May-June, 2022, Frances
I use Pacer Poles, which I learned about on the forum. They were invented by a physiotherapist, and have an ergonomic handle which you don't need to grip tightly. Your hand just sort of rests on it.

Wow. Thanks. Wish I had known about these before. I'll try to find a way to make my poles work for me, but if they don't, it's nice to know there is an alternative.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
SJPP2Santiago completed (Sept.15, 2018).
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
I am a huge fan of Pacer poles. I actually just purchased another set to be delivered to my first night's lodging in Irun ( for my upcoming Camino del Norte). However, I received a communication today from Pacer pole letting me know that due to Brexit, its not easy (have to pay an additional tax) to mail product from UK to other EU destinations. I am trying to avoid having to check my poles on my flight.
I digress. Pacer poles are excellent though.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2022?
Perhaps you are gripping them too much, too hard. You want to use your poles only when you need them, not all the time. The Camino is a good place to wean yourself and your body back into balance. Take advantage of consciously standing tall and walking without them on easy, flat kms. Go slowly and carefully, but straight and balanced.

Of course, use them when you feel you must. Otherwise, use them as an aid, not as a crutch (if that makes any sense).

Buen Camino
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
I only find a pole necessary on a very few spots on the Camino... going DOWN into Roncesvalles, going DOWN into Zubiri, and going DOWN from Alto Perdon. Otherwise, I really don't use poles. I don't like carrying them. I'm 70 this year.
 

OZAJ

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres (2008) Norte (2009) Vezelay/Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2010) etc.
I use Pacer Poles. I have not used any others. I am nearer 70 than 60 and my knees sing the praises of Pacer poles every step of the way. I wish I had started to use them long ago. However, I do not have problems with arthritis, so can't address your query specifically.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I have used poles for every camino and hiking trip I have gone on in the last 30 years. I, too, have arthritis in numerous joints including my hands. I train with the poles as well… and even walk the dog with one, so they are really second nature for me. I find I am not as focused on the trails as I would be if I was walking without them. They have saved by bacon from falls a few times! Ninety nine percent of the time the poles are gripped loosely (no straps) but I react quickly and sufficiently tightenen my grip, If I sense an imbalance of some sort.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Some mild hand arthritis here, and no pacer poles. But so far no problem.
Wish I had known about these before.
Do not despair, but experiment.
Make sure you have a relatively loose grip, and rest your weight on where your wrist goes through the straps. (It's probably obvious, but put your hands through the straps from the bottom up, not the other way around.)
 

Eve Alexandra

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 Astorga-SDC, April 2022 SJPP-Muxia
I've got Pacer poles and standard poles with a cork grip, and mild hand arthritis. I love my pacer poles, but I don't find that one or the other makes that much of a difference to my hands. But as someone mentioned, using the loops and making sure to not tightly grip the poles makes all the difference for standard poles.
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
Advancing arthritis, substantially impaired left hand due to Dupuytren's's Contracture....

I've used poles, but no more. I find that I now walk better without them.
Interesting and not particularly encouraging. I have never used poles, but have been thinking about trying them as my balance is slightly less and the hip aches seem to last longer after I walk. 🤔
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I, too, only see the utility of poles on steep ascents and descents,
I can’t opine on the mechanics of hiking poles, but do know that I don’t take a step on any camino without them. I have good, pop-on rubber tips that go on when the trail goes on asphalt.

For me, as @Marbe2 has also experienced, there is a tremendous value in having poles that prevent a stumble from turning into a face plant. My mother always used to laugh that my middle name is surely not Grace, but I think many of us in the “senior” categories have similar issues.

Good luck in finding what works for you, @maryloufrommadison!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances - 2009
Portuguese Interior (2014)
Hadrian's Wall (2017)
Porto to SdC ( Seaside) 2019
It would appear that I'm in the minority (or just picked a thread that focuses on poles) but I have said before that I prefer a walking stick. I tried poles my last camino and found them less helpful. I use my stick much of the time but not all of the time. I write only to remind maryloufrommadison that there are other options. By the way, I believe that with either poles or sticks it is critical to learn how to use the wrist straps. (I forgot to mention that I definitely qualify as an "older walker")
 
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Sheesh

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2009, 2013, (2022)
I took conventional poles in 2009 and for me they were invaluable. However, in 2013 I took the plunge and ordered Pacer poles and found them to be much easier on my deteriorating basal thumb joints (in fact I do prefer them to conventional poles). But palm moisture (on both types, but more so with the Pacers) plus sun exposure on the backs of my hands was problematic. The next time I am Camino-bound, a thin pair of fingerless gloves will certainly be in my kit; something like these ones:

 
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Fizzy

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
I expect that I am older than some people out there!

I have some arthritis in my thumbs, but haven't found it an issue with poles. You need to use the wrist straps properly - watch this video to see how to put them on - so you don't need to grip the poles tightly with your hands.

If you still have a problem, you might want to look at Pacer Poles, which are quite different, and said to be particularly good for arthritic hands.
Hi , yes I too have arthritis in my thumb joints, found ordinary walking poles painful to use, worth investing in pacer poles, they really are a comfort on the hands .
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
Light grip and straps around wrists do it for me:) I have 2 metacarpal joint implants in my right hand and a thumb fusion on my left, all due to arthritis. Arthritis is unstoppable, but we are so fortunate to live in a time when the medical technology advancements can help us maintain an active lifestyle:)
 

Buz Radican

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May / Jun 2015
Camino Frances Oct / Nov 2016
Camino Frances May-Jun 2018
CF 2020?
Given I was 70 when I walked my first Camino and 77 when I completed my fourth Camino 22 November last year, I probably qualify as an older pilgrim. I used trekking poles every step of the way, no straps, on all four Caminos. Yes I have arthritis in both hands but I have never had a problem with the poles.
 

Rozenn

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April/may 2022 SJPP to Santiago
I only find a pole necessary on a very few spots on the Camino... going DOWN into Roncesvalles, going DOWN into Zubiri, and going DOWN from Alto Perdon. Otherwise, I really don't use poles. I don't like carrying them. I'm 70 this year.
Same for me , I use only one pole …especially on the places you mentioned ! I am 68
 
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Pilgrim9

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-SdC (2017)
SdC-Muxia-Fisterra-SdC (2017)
Lisboa-SdC (2018)
Ferrol-SdC (2018)
I carry poles when on long pilgrimages but only use them when I need extra stability, such as e.g. when descending hills covered by slippery mud or leaves or snow or unstable round rocks and boulders etc. or when navigating around those deep mud holes that are almost the full width of the trail, or when crossing streams, etc. When I need them, I really do need them and I need them immediately, because there are never any wooden sticks lying around that I can use. The other 99% of the time my poles remain in the shortened configuration, tied to each other head to tail, and carried in my hand, ready for instant deployment.

Mary Lou from Madison: perhaps you could buy a set of poles and just carry them in their collapsed configuration, like I do, or tie them to your pack, and see how things go. Your natural sense of balance might be better than you think. If, however, you do find that you do need to use poles continuously, just use them.

I have no advice to offer about types of pole handles VS arthritis.

I am not denigrating those for whom continuous use of walking poles is a necessity. I just don't need them continuously ... yet.
 
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cjward

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances May 2022
Other than ordering Pacer Poles without trying them, are they available in shops in Pamplona or SJPP?
 

Eve Alexandra

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 Astorga-SDC, April 2022 SJPP-Muxia
@cjward It’s a small UK business. The best way to get them is to have them sent directly to your first night booked. But post Brexit I hear it takes a lot longer now. They do answer emails. Maybe ask them about it, and if the timing works for you, contact your first night booked. When I did it in 2017, the hotel was happy to accept the package for me.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Thanks, everyone. I, too, only see the utility of poles on steep ascents and descents, but had the idea that a lot of people us them all the time.
Like @peregrina2000 I use my poles for every part of the Camino - except when walking through busy towns and cities. They are much more useful in my hands than adding weight to my backpack.

They help rebalance my center of gravity while wearing a backpack, keep my hands from swelling, help propel me uphill, take some of the stress off my knees when walking downhill, have saved me from a fall or two, and help keep my arms toned among other benefits.
 
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jiggy

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2012
Camino Frances 2013
Camino Frances 2014
Le Puy 2015 to SJPP
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
I use arthritis compression gloves. I find they really help my hands.
Duerer Arthritis Compression Gloves Women Men for RSI, Carpal Tunnel, Rheumatiod, Tendonitis,
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks, everyone. I, too, only see the utility of poles on steep ascents and descents, but had the idea that a lot of people us them all the time. Yesterday I walked up a steep, icy bluff and was truly grateful for them! I probably was gripping too hard, as they were truly keeping me from falling.
I am by no means an expert, but if you did not shorten your poles for the upward ascent, you might have been working too hard which might be why your hands are complaining.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Other than ordering Pacer Poles without trying them, are they available in shops in Pamplona or SJPP?
No, you must purchase them on the website. I have pacer poles. I like them, but I won't take them on the Camino unless I"m staying in private lodgings because some albergues won't let you take them with you to your bed and make you put them in a barrel. After paying all that $$$ I don't want them stolen. I find it a lot easier just to pick up a wooden stick in SJPP or Pamplona - then if it gets taken or I leave it at a bar it's no biggie.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
have pacer poles. I like them, but I won't take them on the Camino unless I"m staying in private lodgings because some albergues won't let you take them with you to your bed and make you put them in a barrel. After paying all that $$$ I don't want them stolen.
I've never had any problem bringing my collapsed Pacer Poles attached to my backpack into the dorm. I have on occasion left them in the barrel. I don't think that most pilgrims would recognize them as being more expensive, and they are not any more expensive than some of the Leki and Black Diamond poles that other pilgrims use.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Time of past OR future Camino
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
many good responses, have not read all, though:
I have a sore arthritic thumb joint.
I use bicycle fingerless gloves to get a better grip without really squeezing hard, and in my walking rhythm, I still have a firm grip as I am striding the pole firmly in the ground and have a loose grip when dragging the stick forward and letting the strap do the the dragging.
In this way you will have a pumping motion of the blood in your hand and you do not tire too much on the muscle tension...
Hope that makes sense..
I would not do well w/out the poles in balance, rhythm and extra propulsion....
 
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Arniece2022

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April, 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
Here's a link to REI her in the USA for similar poles to the Pacer Poles from England. Maybe some might find this useful:

 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Those Komperdell poles and the ones @Arniece2022 linked to from Decathlon have a different grip than traditional poles, but they really don't have the same type of angled ergonomic handles as Pacer Poles.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
I expect that I am older than some people out there!

I have some arthritis in my thumbs, but haven't found it an issue with poles. You need to use the wrist straps properly - watch this video to see how to put them on - so you don't need to grip the poles tightly with your hands.

If you still have a problem, you might want to look at Pacer Poles, which are quite different, and said to be particularly good for arthritic hands.
Thank you - this is what I was going to say! Proper use of poles doesn't require a tight grip at all. In fact - I usually hold mine fairly loosely on most surfaces. This should not only eliminate arthritis flareups - but also - you shouldn't get blisters from your poles.

And I have been wanting to try pacer poles - I just have too many poles already to justify buying more haha...
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
Those Komperdell poles and the ones @Arniece2022 linked to from Decathlon have a different grip than traditional poles, but they really don't have the same type of angled ergonomic handles as Pacer Poles.
You are right. It was just a suggestion, because it seems the Pacer Poles are available from the UK and the ones I mentioned can be found here. I thought that poles like the Komperdell might be helpful to someone with arthritis. If I were to buy them I would probably consider going to REI and try them out. Or I would order online , try them at home and if they are not comfortable return them.
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Time of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I had Pacer Poles and enjoyed them a lot, until a pilgrim "liberated" them. I have used a single regular pole since, something left behind by another pilgrim, and it works just fine. Occasional aches in the pad of my palm after a long day, nada mas.
I tried a pair of high-tech trekking poles a couple of months ago and found the arthritis in my SHOULDERS was kicking up! Who knew?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I've never had any problem bringing my collapsed Pacer Poles attached to my backpack into the dorm. I have on occasion left them in the barrel. I don't think that most pilgrims would recognize them as being more expensive, and they are not any more expensive than some of the Leki and Black Diamond poles that other pilgrims use.
Perhaps, but I can't afford to lose them.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
You are right. It was just a suggestion. I just thought that poles like the Komperdell might be helpful to someone with arthritis. If I were to buy them I would probably consider going to REI and try them out. Or I would order online , try them at home and if they are not comfortable return them.
You are right. A different shaped handle may help some people.
However, PacerPoles are really not that expensive, at least when compared to other higher end hiking poles. They are £102/pair including shipping to the US. According to the currency converter that I checked that's $133 today.

At $20 each, the poles from Decathlon are worth considering, especially since the grip is more angled.

comparison of pole grips.jpg

Here are the Decathlon poles on the US Decathlon site

 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2013, 2015, 2022?
It has probably been said here already, but I want to emphasize, that using poles is not restricted to "older" pilgrims.
In fact, on both of my Caminos, younger pilgrims were the ones on the side of the road, nursing their knees and ankles, envying their contemporaries who had been using poles.
One time on the CF, I used my roll of duct tape to repair a broken hiking pole for a young person who was painfully limping. Several stages later, pilgrims whom I didn't know recognized my description and called me a "Camino Angel" because I repaired their friend's hiking pole.
I recommend hiking poles for every pilgrim, not just older ones.
 

PJN

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 Comino Frances
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
The good thing about poles , they reduce the weight thru the hip joints. Use short gloves to reduce the push into your hands. Even those fingerless gloves. I’m a Physio ! X
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Finisterra 2022
I'm 77 and have used poles on all long treks. However, on the Meseta, for the most part, I didn't. I didn't find them that helpful on long "flat" days and enjoyed the freedom of a loose arm swing out there.,
On hills and in mountains absolutely! They helps with balance in uneven areas and take the weight off your legs, knees and hips going up and down grades.
Two points: shorten them up a tad going up and lengthen them a tad going down.
I also have arthritis in my hands, but correctly using the strap and a loose grip alleviated any pains.
I love my poles!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
It has probably been said here already, but I want to emphasize, that using poles is not restricted to "older" pilgrims.
Absolutely! I have been using hiking pole since I was younger, much younger:) Eventually they became a necessity because of arthritis on my knees and they made such a difference - especially going downhill! Since then, in 2018, I also had partial knee replacement on both my knees (patellofemoral arthroplasty), and though the pain is gone, my hiking poles go with me whenever I backpack or do long distance walking. For a Camino, I wouldn't leave home without them!!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
You are right. A different shaped handle may help some people.
However, PacerPoles are really not that expensive, at least when compared to other higher end hiking poles. They are £102/pair including shipping to the US. According to the currency converter that I checked that's $133 today.

At $20 each, the poles from Decathlon are worth considering, especially since the grip is more angled.

View attachment 120619

Here are the Decathlon poles on the US Decathlon site

Actually, I am planning on buying hiking poles in Oviedo and the Decathlon store is not too far from where I'm staying:) Those poles might do the trick, and if I get them I'll report back.
 

NanaEL

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances in 2019, Portuguese 2023?
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
I have terrible hand issues! However, I had a person at the sports shop in SJPP help me adjust my poles for me (not used them much beforehand) and she also gave me instructions as to how to use them with out gripping them as hard -- it really helped! Good luck.
Buen Camino!
 

NanaEL

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances in 2019, Portuguese 2023?
I only find a pole necessary on a very few spots on the Camino... going DOWN into Roncesvalles, going DOWN into Zubiri, and going DOWN from Alto Perdon. Otherwise, I really don't use poles. I don't like carrying them. I'm 70 this year.
Wow! I had never used poles before starting on my Camino. But I credit them with saving me from 3 nasty falls along with helping my lower back and hips!
 
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CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
You are right. A different shaped handle may help some people.
However, PacerPoles are really not that expensive, at least when compared to other higher end hiking poles. They are £102/pair including shipping to the US. According to the currency converter that I checked that's $133 today.

At $20 each, the poles from Decathlon are worth considering, especially since the grip is more angled.

View attachment 120619

Here are the Decathlon poles on the US Decathlon site

Those Decatholon poles look pretty darned good.
I realize everyone has a different sized budget - $133 is a lot for me - more than 12% of a month's income.
 

Arniece2022

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April, 2022
Those Decatholon poles look pretty darned good.
I realize everyone has a different sized budget - $133 is a lot for me - more than 12% of a month's income.
Price means a lot to me right now. This is my first Camino, so I have put money into a good backpack, shoes and rain poncho. I already have all those items plus poles, but not ones I would use for this type of trek. So I was quite happy to see these poles, at that price and it's a bonus they are at Decathlon so I can purchase them after I arrive in Spain and not worry about checking them on the plane. My next Camino I will put money into Merino items. Money on my third Camino may go to Pacers as by then my age might insist on it. See how that happened? I don't leave for another 29 days and I'm already planning my 3rd Camino, jejeje....
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
So I was quite happy to see these poles, at that price and it's a bonus they are at Decathlon so I can purchase them after I arrive in Spain and not worry about checking them on the plane

Like any other retail store you can't rely on every Decathlon location to have every item in stock. You can check on Decathlon's Spanish website to see if the store you will be going to has what you want.

 

Arniece2022

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April, 2022
Like any other retail store you can't rely on every Decathlon location to have every item in stock. You can check on Decathlon's Spanish website to see if the store you will be going to has what you want.

Yes, good point. I'll be in Madrid overnight and a few days in Pomplona so I had planned to check online at the various stores the day before I leave.
 
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trecile

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Time of past OR future Camino
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Yes, good point. I'll be in Madrid overnight and a few days in Pomplona so I had planned to check online at the various stores the day before I leave.
When you are in Spain, and check which stores have them in stock you can reserve them online to pick up at the store.
 

Walkerooni

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPdP to Santiago (June-ish 2018)
I expect that I am older than some people out there!

I have some arthritis in my thumbs, but haven't found it an issue with poles. You need to use the wrist straps properly - watch this video to see how to put them on - so you don't need to grip the poles tightly with your hands.

If you still have a problem, you might want to look at Pacer Poles, which are quite different, and said to be particularly good for arthritic hands.
Exactly. I saw only a few people holding the poles correctly—inserting your hand from below, then dropping your hand and and letting the strap take the weight of your hand. Held that way, nothing more than an extremely light grip is needed. In fact you barely need to close your hand around the handle. You’ll know who is using them correctly, as they will have that telltale white stripe across the back of their hand. 😉. I used them the entire way. Used properly, they can take over 25% of the weight off your lower body, saving hips and knees a lot of work.
 

Henriettagal

Henriettagal
Time of past OR future Camino
April 18, 2017
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
I use poles. I find my hands swell up less and I like the stability they provide.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I use one wooden walking stick, with a rubber tip, when on camino and when walking in challenging areas in Alberta. I find it particularly useful for climbing, either up or down, and on problematic terrain - a stream with large rocks, for example. On a slippery hillside, it provides a third leg and helps prevent falls. It can do the same on wet roads. I am accustomed to it, and replace the rubber tips when needed. and occasionally I just carry it. It is not intended to help carry me along an easy road or trail.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
Poles are helpful at all times on the hiking trail but only if you've learned how to use them correctly and taken the time to practice using them. I'm not sure of the value of buying poles in SJPP, for example, and using them the first time on the stage to Roncesvalles. Many walkers on the camino use poles perhaps because they think they're supposed to use poles, but their arrhythmic tapping, randomly placed tips, and oddly angled poles show they're not benefiting at all but are simply carrying them.

If you use straps correctly, you won't use your hands to hold the poles; the correctly placed strap around your wrist allows wrist, arm, and upper body strength to work as a unit to push the the pole against the ground to propel you forward. Your very loose grip serves as a kind of stop to keep the top of the pole from moving about, but your hands does none of the actual work of pushing off. In addition, if you use the straps correctly, you will not risk breaking a bone in case you fall forward onto your hands, a fear that is often expressed in this forum when the topic of poles is discussed. I recommend this video as on using straps and poles: How to Use Trekking Poles (Like a Boss)

I use poles for hiking just like I use poles for cross-country skiing, following the Nordic style. I can't imagine that even those who doubt the value of hiking poles on flat ground could see themselves (or anyone) cross-country skiing without poles. Poles propel you forward on flat ground just as they do on snow, reducing the work of lower body muscles. The key is learning how to use poles and then practicing so that walking with poles becomes second nature; for example, I can adjust from flat ground to an incline and then swing the poles in front of me for a descent, all without losing stride or rhythm and all without thinking about what I have to do. But then again, I have used poles on every hike and every walk (even to the library) for the last 10-15 years.

High quality caps for the tips are an absolute necessity, and they make using poles on paved surfaces possible.

And in case anyone is wondering, I'm in my late 60s.
 

Morning Waters

Celtic Lass
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
I had no difficulty packing my Pacer Poles in my carry on luggage when I flew to Spain and Portugal . I had the 3 piece, carbon fiber poles and had rubber tips on the ends. They went through security here in the States and three times in Madrid without ANY difficulty. I did carry a long thin cloth case to put them in if I did have to check them, but never used it.
I love the Pacer Poles as they do not aggravate the arthritis in my thumbs. I also think I get a good upper body work out due to the "platform" that cradles your hand allowing one to give more oomph with downward pressure as one walks. I used them on the Camino Portuguese and continue to use them on my walks here at home.
 

Evie S.

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portugues
Francis 22
I use poles and when they are not in need I carry them on my backpack. Sometimes I will use 1 pole and that changes it up a bit as I walk and contemplate life! I purchased mine in Madrid ( sports store) on my first Camino 2018 and the tops have a cushion ( soft grip). I will be using them once again in April to do the Francis from SJPP. They were not expensive. I will be 66 in April and have I meniscus problems in my left knee and the support the poles give me when walking will be very helpful!.
 

cbacino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
Use the poles/straps and most of the pressure goes to the base of the thumb and the back of the hand. You do not need to grasp the pole grip with your fingers. Ask a skier how to use poles properly - many hikers don’t know how.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
CF St Jean - Santiago (2015)
St Jean - Ronsenvalles (2016)
St Jean - Santiago (aug 2018)
Wow. Thanks. Wish I had known about these before. I'll try to find a way to make my poles work for me, but if they don't, it's nice to know there is an alternative.
I changed from pacer poles because I found myself leaning on them too much and wrists going numb - i prefer leki antishock and use wrist straps always
 

annandkerith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2006), St Olaf (2008), Vde La P (2010), Portuguese (2014), VdLP (2019)
I am a huge fan of Pacer poles. I actually just purchased another set to be delivered to my first night's lodging in Irun ( for my upcoming Camino del Norte). However, I received a communication today from Pacer pole letting me know that due to Brexit, its not easy (have to pay an additional tax) to mail product from UK to other EU destinations. I am trying to avoid having to check my poles on my flight.
I digress. Pacer poles are excellent though.
Try Black diamond distance FLZ poles. They collapse to 37cms so fit in a day pack. I have just bought another pair (having used them for many years. Worn out now) for $AU 169.90. Ann
 

Walton

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
No, you must purchase them on the website. I have pacer poles. I like them, but I won't take them on the Camino unless I"m staying in private lodgings because some albergues won't let you take them with you to your bed and make you put them in a barrel. After paying all that $$$ I don't want them stolen. I find it a lot easier just to pick up a wooden stick in SJPP or Pamplona - then if it gets taken or I leave it at a bar it's no biggie.
Annie - Before arriving at an alburgue, we dismantle our Pacers and put them in the Pacer bag and then put that in our backpack. Our poles are hidden and safer that way.

But, I'm read somewhere that some alburgues are prohibiting backpacks in the sleeping area to prevent bedbugs. If that's true, those with light fingers are going to have a field day unless lockers are available for use.

But yeah - we love our Pacer poles!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2018, 2022 (planning - Voie du Puy or Via Tolosana
Poles are helpful at all times on the hiking trail but only if you've learned how to use them correctly and taken the time to practice using them. I'm not sure of the value of buying poles in SJPP, for example, and using them the first time on the stage to Roncesvalles. Many walkers on the camino use poles perhaps because they think they're supposed to use poles, but their arrhythmic tapping, randomly placed tips, and oddly angled poles show they're not benefiting at all but are simply carrying them.

If you use straps correctly, you won't use your hands to hold the poles; the correctly placed strap around your wrist allows wrist, arm, and upper body strength to work as a unit to push the the pole against the ground to propel you forward. Your very loose grip serves as a kind of stop to keep the top of the pole from moving about, but your hands does none of the actual work of pushing off. In addition, if you use the straps correctly, you will not risk breaking a bone in case you fall forward onto your hands, a fear that is often expressed in this forum when the topic of poles is discussed. I recommend this video as on using straps and poles: How to Use Trekking Poles (Like a Boss)

I use poles for hiking just like I use poles for cross-country skiing, following the Nordic style. I can't imagine that even those who doubt the value of hiking poles on flat ground could see themselves (or anyone) cross-country skiing without poles. Poles propel you forward on flat ground just as they do on snow, reducing the work of lower body muscles. The key is learning how to use poles and then practicing so that walking with poles becomes second nature; for example, I can adjust from flat ground to an incline and then swing the poles in front of me for a descent, all without losing stride or rhythm and all without thinking about what I have to do. But then again, I have used poles on every hike and every walk (even to the library) for the last 10-15 years.

High quality caps for the tips are an absolute necessity, and they make using poles on paved surfaces possible.

And in case anyone is wondering, I'm in my late 60s.
I heartily endorse everything in this post, and so does my Physio (who introduced me to Nordic Walking and poles over 5 years ago). It is not difficult to learn the walking techniques using poles, but neither is it intuitive - you need to learn and practice. I'll celebrate my 69th birthday on the Via Tolosana in May and I'm getting extra practice in now (walked to the local polling station yesterday for our State elections)... see photo, note poles:
 

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Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Annie - Before arriving at an alburgue, we dismantle our Pacers and put them in the Pacer bag and then put that in our backpack. Our poles are hidden and safer that way.

But, I'm read somewhere that some alburgues are prohibiting backpacks in the sleeping area to prevent bedbugs. If that's true, those with light fingers are going to have a field day unless lockers are available for use.

But yeah - we love our Pacer poles!
Yes, of course I do that also where allowed. However, there are some places that do not allow even that.
It's just not worth the worry for me in most cases unless I'm booking private lodging.
 
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Fred Gaudet

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
1341
I'm 82 and have used hiking poles for more than 20 years over some 12,000+ miles. I agree with others to use the strap, especially going uphill. I, however, only have the strap resting below my knuckles with the thumb outside of the strap. I lightly hold the pole with thumb and first finger or sometimes lightly with all fingers. Going downhill I'll shift my palm (or thumb) to the top of the pole.

Practice, enjoy, and buen camino.
 

Scott Sweeney

Veteran Member
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
It's totally a personal thing. We always walk with poles. Stranger to become part of the rhythm, part of the prayers. Then and consciously keep me from putting a hand in my pocket for having my hands swell. Totally personal preference.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I'm read somewhere that some alburgues are prohibiting backpacks in the sleeping area to prevent bedbugs.
Yes, I found that in Salamanca, but I simply do not understand the logic. People take their sleeping bags and clothes into the dorm, expose them to bedbugs, and then bring them back to their backpacks. How does that help?🤷‍♀️
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
I expect that I am older than some people out there!

I have some arthritis in my thumbs, but haven't found it an issue with poles. You need to use the wrist straps properly - watch this video to see how to put them on - so you don't need to grip the poles tightly with your hands.

If you still have a problem, you might want to look at Pacer Poles, which are quite different, and said to be particularly good for arthritic hands.
I use my poles at home too, and use them as above, sometimes one will do but my balance can be dicey.
 

Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
Like any other retail store you can't rely on every Decathlon location to have every item in stock. You can check on Decathlon's Spanish website to see if the store you will be going to has what you want.


@Arniece2022
I checked that link and they have an area where you can check if it’s in stock at various stores. It was in stock in Pamplona, Madrid, and even Cadiz. Also a couple other stores along the Camino. They were listed at €13. I’m going to try them also. Have to watch some videos or find some obliging pilgrims to learn how to use them properly!

I think those pacer poles look great, But you wouldn’t really have to be certain that you like poles, Before making a larger financial commitment. These seem similar, but inexpensive enough to give them away if one didn’t like them.
 
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Rwish

Rick
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino frances (2015)
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
we used poles for the Camino and found them invaluable for going up and down steep slopes as well as for keeping balance in rough or slippery terrain. We saw a number of people fall without poles and several were seriously injured causing them to quit or pause their Camino. A light grip using wrist straps works well.
 

Vivian H

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Porto to Santiago this Spring (May 2013)
Do any of you have trouble with trekking poles exacerbating arthritis in your hands? I really want to use them, but a couple of joints are already arguing with me after only a couple of days of use. I'd appreciate knowing how you handle it.
Check out pacer poles. Especially designed for people with arthritis
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
I didn't see your post when you first put it up but thought I would respond. This is an issue for me. I tried my friend's Pacer Poles thinking they would likely be much better but they actually made the problem worse. The reason is that I have some significant arthritis in the knuckles of my pinky fingers and this pinky side of my hand made a fair amount of repetitive contact with the brace on the bottom of the Pacer Pole grip. Otherwise, I agree with the advice that Pacer Poles might help. But give yourself time to try them first and return if they aren't good for you.

If Pacers do not work for you, My advice is to make sure you are gripping your regular poles correctly. We walked our entire first camino without realizing that we were not gripping the poles correctly. The video posted by @WalkingJane is excellent. Work on not gripping the poles too tightly. You also might add some extra padding to the straps so they are a little softer going around your hand.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
One thing to be wary of on the Decathlon poles is that they lock into position using a sprung button not clamps or twist locks.
A friend bought two as she didn't want to lash out on Pacers - she'd tried mine and loved them but I've reached a stage where I no longer lend out favourite books, tools or equipment for fear of never seeing them again.
Of course the most suitable adjustment for her didn't fall in one of the designed holes - I seem to remember they are set 5cm apart?
We ended up marking each pole in two places (for going up and down hills), disassembling them and carefully drilling additional holes. Not sure if that weakened them at all but they worked out reasonably well for her although it was a lot of faffing about.
Oh, she's 5'4" tall (163cm) but long(ish) leg/short torso so I don't know if that makes any difference to the fit but I haven't seen her use them again since her Camino in 2019.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
@Jeff Crawley reminded me of another point. I had a pair of poles that twisted to lock and unlock. With the arthritis in my hands I struggled to tighten and loosen them. I got a pair of black diamonds that clamp into place -- works perfectly for m.
 
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Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Time of past OR future Camino
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
I have only ever lend out my Leki Micro Vario poles once, to a friend for half a day´s hike so he could feel the rythm and the benefits.
It´s a bit like letting others borrow your tooth brush!
But he bougth a pair of Black Diamond ZZ poles straight away and he reported that his pains disappeared.
Any prospecting user can borrow a pair or by secondhand poles that do not collapse at a cheap price and try out first...there is a surplus lying around in stores for a bargain price...
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
@Jeff Crawley reminded me of another point. I had a pair of poles that twisted to lock and unlock. With the arthritis in my hands I struggled to tighten and loosen them. I got a pair of black diamonds that clamp into place -- works perfectly for m.
I suppose gently treading on the clamp locks would work if you don't have the power in your hands?
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
One thing to be wary of on the Decathlon poles is that they lock into position using a sprung button not clamps or twist locks.
A friend bought two as she didn't want to lash out on Pacers - she'd tried mine and loved them but I've reached a stage where I no longer lend out favourite books, tools or equipment for fear of never seeing them again.
Of course the most suitable adjustment for her didn't fall in one of the designed holes - I seem to remember they are set 5cm apart?
We ended up marking each pole in two places (for going up and down hills), disassembling them and carefully drilling additional holes. Not sure if that weakened them at all but they worked out reasonably well for her although it was a lot of faffing about.
Oh, she's 5'4" tall (163cm) but long(ish) leg/short torso so I don't know if that makes any difference to the fit but I haven't seen her use them again since her Camino in 2019.
Update - had a chat with my friend Barbara this morning. She said the Decathlon poles worked out well and the hand grips plus fingerless cycling gloves were comfortable although she found she didn't need two so gave one away to a lady who developed a knee problem.
The other made it all the way to Santiago. The hostal she stayed in had a table in the stairwell with souvenirs for guests to help themselves. She left the remaining pole there and was pleased to see somebody took it away, prolonging its active life.
 

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