• PLEASE NOTE: Please think twice before you travel to Spain now. More here.

Search over 55.000 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement

Trekking Pole Research

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Access denied for some reason!
I had the same problem and asked the OP, who pointed out that after you click on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32980249/, there is a full text link just to the right of the title of the paper. Click on the little box that says ELSEVIER Full Text Article.

Here are some key sentences from the conclusions:

"Although using poles decreases lower extremity loading and forces, cardiovascular demand is increased; thus, a decision should be made based on the individual’s current fitness level and whether any lower extremity conditions or pain are present. When carrying a large external load, the use of trekking poles may be beneficial, resulting in decreased lower extremity muscle activity and increased balance and stability, with no meaningful differences in metabolic expenditure. "

Personally, I use poles on the Camino mainly for the increased balance and stability.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Interesting. Not really understanding what Nordic walking is, it got me looking at that.

I don't know why but it conjured up images like Nordic Skiing for some reason and I always imagined it was unrelated to 'hiking' with Poles.

I now realise what I am doing whilst walking on level ground is actually more like Nordic walking.
Hence the feeling of increased power and speed. This video describes it well. Though the guys poles are extended far more than I would use.

 

nathanael

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Plata,
I had the same problem and asked the OP, who pointed out that after you click on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32980249/, there is a full text link just to the right of the title of the paper. Click on the little box that says ELSEVIER Full Text Article.

Here are some key sentences from the conclusions:

"Although using poles decreases lower extremity loading and forces, cardiovascular demand is increased; thus, a decision should be made based on the individual’s current fitness level and whether any lower extremity conditions or pain are present. When carrying a large external load, the use of trekking poles may be beneficial, resulting in decreased lower extremity muscle activity and increased balance and stability, with no meaningful differences in metabolic expenditure. "

Personally, I use poles on the Camino mainly for the increased balance and stability.
I had never used trekking poles but have always found a suitable stick along the way to use as a guide up hills and discourage wandering dogs from attack.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I had never used trekking poles but have always found a suitable stick along the way to use as a guide up hills and discourage wandering dogs from attack.

A bit like comparing a mono cycle with a moped ;)
Not wishing the to reopen the whole poles debate! :eek:
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
A bit like comparing a mono cycle with a moped ;)
Not wishing the to reopen the whole poles debate! :eek:
There seems to be debates about lots of things on the forum. I am as guilty as the next Perigrino/a chiming in. I think when it comes to this subject either you use them or you don't it is simple and your own preference. If you choose to use them and are not sure you know how or haven't been taught watcha video or two. If you don't want to use them on to the next topic. It sure is easy!!! ;) ;) ;) :)
 

Anthony18

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019
I was 49 when I did my camino in June/July of 2019. I was in fairly good shape. Not saying you should use poles or not, but I used them. Made the rookie camino mistake of hiking with a pack that was too heavy. Glad I used them. Got them at the Pilgrim shop in SJPP- cheap pair, but they worked brilliantly. Especially on the many rocky and/or slippery uphill/downhill climbs. I found them to be especially useful for having to go off trail as well, since often times you'll find ditches that may be obscured by plant growth running parallel to the path. Saved me from taking a tumble on many occasions. They're a must have for me on any long distance hike.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Interesting. Not really understanding what Nordic walking is, it got me looking at that.

I don't know why but it conjured up images like Nordic Skiing for some reason and I always imagined it was unrelated to 'hiking' with Poles.

I now realise what I am doing whilst walking on level ground is actually more like Nordic walking.
Hence the feeling of increased power and speed. This video describes it well. Though the guys poles are extended far more than I would use.

That video shows exactly the way I was taught to use a pair of trekking poles for walking. Taught by someone who cross country snow skis and wilderness backpacks and has done the Camino multiple times.
The poles move with you in the natural rhythm of your arm swing. The poles barely touch the ground (last Camino Frances I walked I only wore out one set of rubber trekking pole tips and I walked with the poles everyday for 35 days). You do not have a death grip on the poles and the webbing between your thumb and forefinger rest on the Y of the strap. The only time I deviated from this was obviously on steep uphills and downhills. That's when the poles became stability and balance aids. When I entered a town, especially a busy one, I put the poles away, or just stopped using them and carried both in one hand. I feel it is rude to subject the locals to the clatter they make striking a hard surface and also swing them back and forth on a crowded street.
I love the upper body workout the trekking poles give me. My hands, shoulders and arms feel it the first few days but get in shape after that. It is a win-win for the body.
I have used expensive trekking poles and also the cheapest set around (about 20 euros). I found no real difference between the two (prospective pilgrims on a budget take note...you can get to Santiago with cheap trekking poles ;) ).
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola - walking poles, hindering or helping??
Back in 2005 when I first attempted Mt Kilimanjaro poles where not on my radar however the helpful staff at my hotel strongly recommended them. I brought my own in 2007 and 2008 and could not have succeeded with out them.
On my first (walking camino) in 2017 I found I really needed them on some of the steeper climbs and found them helpful on descents (such as descending to El Acebo). So my recommendation is take them and use as required. Cheers
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I would agree with It56ny, It is down to personal choice. I have osteoarthritis in both feet and find that correctly using my poles, help to lift the weight off my feet. Not a cure, but it helps.
For the fortunate, it is down to choice. On my 2016 Camino, my choice was no poles. Eventually, the knee pain was so bad that the knee brace and industrial strength ibuprofen they hand out in Spanish farmacias were not sufficient to enable me to continue, so I got a nice wooden walking staff. My personal choice was not to use those modern, techie/sporty walking poles. But even with the brace and the ibuprofen and the walking staff I wasn't going to make it to Santiago. So I finally gave in and got the walking poles in Viana. And then I was able to walk to Finisterre. For me it was not a matter of personal choice. But some are lucky enough that it is.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Interesting. Not really understanding what Nordic walking is, it got me looking at that.

I don't know why but it conjured up images like Nordic Skiing for some reason and I always imagined it was unrelated to 'hiking' with Poles.

I now realise what I am doing whilst walking on level ground is actually more like Nordic walking.
Hence the feeling of increased power and speed. This video describes it well. Though the guys poles are extended far more than I would use.

Never having been a fan of Nordic poles, I still watched this video with interest. What I take away from it is that these poles, used correctly, are designed to propel one to walk faster. For someone who is more than content to trudge along at a snail’s pace I am very happy with my ordinary trekking poles; in fact I depend on them on the descents to slow my speed all the while putting downward pressure on them to increase my upper body workout. I exert this downward pressure on them whether going uphill, downhill or on a flat surface.

For anyone who is interested, recently - on a steep ascent - I lost my footing and depended heavily on one of my Black Diamond aluminum Z poles to prevent me from falling backwards. It performed admirably; I saw how much it bent before returning to its original.

I guess it just depends on what duty one expects out of one’s poles. Some persons might be able to use both kinds, for different occasions.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
my ordinary trekking poles

Never having been a fan of Nordic poles,

I also have Black Diamond Z poles, and have no idea whether they are Nordic or ordinary. It seems to me that the distinction has become moot as many manufacturers are providing various options in hand grip, pole tip, and length. I would be happy if someone can clarify this for me!
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
I also have Black Diamond Z poles, and have no idea whether they are Nordic or ordinary. It seems to me that the distinction has become moot as many manufacturers are providing various options in hand grip, pole tip, and length. I would be happy if someone can clarify this for me!
🤣 I don’t think they’re Nordic, but I’m happy to leave it to a more techie person to elaborate.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Never having been a fan of Nordic poles, I still watched this video with interest. What I take away from it is that these poles, used correctly, are designed to propel one to walk faster. For someone who is more than content to trudge along at a snail’s pace I am very happy with my ordinary trekking poles;

I tend to agree. I'm a snail's pace walker, but I do like the forward impetus that the polls give me. with little effort they propel me from 3 kph to a tear inducing 3.4 kph!
It cuts some sections to a mere 10 hours for me :cool:
 
Last edited:

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
I tend to agree. I'm a snail's pace walker, but I do like the forward impetus that the polls give me. with little effort they propel me from 3 kph to a tear inducing 3.4 kph!
It cuts some sections to a mere 10 hours for me :cool:
Sorry, I meant that to be a 🤣, not what came out there ...
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Also, I don’t like the idea of the Nordic poles dragging behind me; my feet drag enough as it is.
But I wouldn't like to have ANY poles - Nordic, Pacer, or other - dragging behind me!

The video was suggesting a process for learning a good pattern and rhythm of walking - start by walking with the poles dragging, just while you get used to holding them in your hands but walking normally. Then take hold of them and place them in position to push off as you walk. Not drag them! They should be placed a bit farther back than you might think, in order to push off. That's what I try to do with my Black Diamond Z poles, whatever they are.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
But I wouldn't like to have ANY poles - Nordic, Pacer, or other - dragging behind me!

The video was suggesting a process for learning a good pattern and rhythm of walking - start by walking with the poles dragging, just while you get used to holding them in your hands but walking normally. Then take hold of them and place them in position to push off as you walk. Not drag them! They should be placed a bit farther back than you might think, in order to push off. That's what I try to do with my Black Diamond Z poles, whatever they are.
🤣 Of course I appreciate that Nordic poles, when fully operational, are not supposed to be dragged behind; I’m just having a bit of fun here. However, to my mind, when fully operational they still lag too far behind with every backward motion of the arm, and I don’t like that. As far as I am concerned everyone is free to employ whatever poles he has in whatever manner he feels fit.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I’m just having a bit of fun here.
Sorry - I wasn't sure. 🤓

I am still curious about whether there is really any difference between Nordic poles and regular trekking/walking poles. I suspect it's more a difference in walking style than poles, and that many of us use an in-between approach.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
.... I suspect it's more a difference in walking style than poles, and that many of us use an in-between approach.
You are probably right. Yesterday - on a relatively flat, even terrain - I tried my Z trekking poles with the Nordic technique described in the video and I could feel the forward propulsion but, as I said earlier, I am not interested in increased speed. However, I can’t see that same technique being employed while negotiating a steep, uneven ascent or descent. Perhaps all that is required are poles that can perform well under both compression and lateral stress. (Spoken as a layperson; I am no expert.)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
If I understand the history correctly, Nordic poles are just poles. Different grips (cork, or the fun paddle shapes as with the Pacer brand). Nordic refers to the style of motion -- like Nordic skiing (which combines cross country and a telemark version of downhill) -- and the nordic poles seem to have developed initially so that competitive skiers could maintain conditioning during warmer months.

I am mixed on the "anyone can use the poles any way they see fit" -- for while I don't care one way or another in some respects, in others I am always concerned for anyone's well-being and the poor technical use of equipment that can lead to injury.

I see many people using their poles as though they are trying to climb an icy rock face, hauling themselves forward, and I see rotator-cuff injuries just waiting to happen. And then I see people who seem to plant the pole at about the mid-arch as they move the foreleg ahead, and that seems to be a nasty trip hazard....

I did take a few days to learn the Nordic technical use and I'm not as fast with them as without, but with proper technique I keep my gait straighter, and remove pressure from the lumbar spine and the knees.

In the end, get what suits you, what is most comfortable, easiest to transport etc etc. I have the carbon-flik-Z from Black Diamond with the vented double grip... but that's me. I use them almost every single day and they are 4 years old now.

As to the "click click".... I love that sound. I have rubber tips on my poles and don't generally click, but the click click means to me that other people are finding their freedom, walking into their own futures... and so I have actually come to enjoy it.

People chewing with their mouths open, talking with food in their mouths, or snapping gum, however; that makes me berserk.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I think what being missed by some that watched the video is that efficient, proper use of the trekking poles allows one to walk more efficiently. A better coordination and rhythm between the movement of the arms with the legs. One does not have to walk as fast as the guy in the video.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
What I don't understand is the people who carry their poles while they walk. I expect my poles to carry me, not the other way around!
And the worst are those who carry them in their hands perpendicular to their body - if you are walking behind them you could get poked! I've seen people carry their poles this way when walking through towns, making them a menace.
 
Last edited:

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)

Advertisement

Booking.com

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 57 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 202 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 330 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 96 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 25 1.9%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.0%
  • September

    Votes: 386 29.0%
  • October

    Votes: 159 11.9%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top