Proof that walking poles aid walkers
We have written before about the claimed benefits of walking poles. Now a study has revealed for the first time how the poles help to maintain muscle function while significantly reducing soreness in the days following a walk. The study by Northumbria University in the UK focused on 37 physically active men and women who were split into two groups of equal fitness. They were asked to hike up and down the highest mountain in England and Wales, Snowdon. While one group had the aid of walking poles the other did not. As much as possible, everyone in both groups ate the same for their evening meal and breakfast, carried the same weight in a rucksack and enjoyed the same regulated rests during the ascent and descent. Data was collected of the walkers' heart rates and their personal perceived exertion ratings. At the end of the hike, and at 24, 48 and 72-hour intervals afterwards, muscle damage and function were scientifically tested. What the study found was “there was significantly less muscle soreness in the group using trekking poles”.
The benefits of using walking polesThe group that used the poles benefitted from:
- Reduced loss of strength.
- Faster recovery immediately after the hike.
- Significantly less self-rated soreness 24 hours after the hike.
- Significantly less self-rated soreness 48 hours after the hike.
- Lower levels of the enzyme creatine kinase, which indicates muscle damage.
- Negligible muscle damage.
Why poles are great for walkersIf muscle damage and soreness is reduced people are more likely to want to walk – and to keep on walking on more days – which leads to better health in the long-term. The potential for injury is also lowered because walking poles reduce the load to the lower limbs, which increases stability. Walking for many days in a row is easier and more enjoyable, such as when on a walking tour holiday, if you are aided by walking poles.
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