"I've never used 'em, so why should I start now?"
We hear it at
nearly every rendezvous before nearly every trip. Many people pride
themselves on being anti-trekking pole. And it's not really clear why.
poles can be your best friend. The use of the poles allows you to
protect your knees while carrying heavy loads. They also help to
preserve your balance on deep snow or in uneven terrain. Indeed, they
provide so much support that I often argue that once you let your guard
down and use poles, it's hard to go back to not using them...of course a
handful of the stubborn will drop the poles for awhile after being
"forced" to use them by a guide. But the value of said poles is so
high, that even some of the most stubborn will eventually pick them back
up again on their own private trips.
While the advantages of
trekking poles are clear, there are two potential drawbacks to them.
Both of the drawbacks have more to do with the use of wrist straps than
anything else. The first is that if you always use the strap, it is
possible to develop tendinitis in the elbow, or tennis elbow. If you
only use the wrist-strap when it's possible that you're going drop and
lose the pole, then this impact can be limited. Without the strap,
people tend to constantly change how they're holding the pole and as
such, it doesn't impact the elbow so much.
second potential problem is what's referred to as "skier's thumb." This
particular issue is also related to the strap. If you put your wrist
into it and allow the strap to run behind your thumb as shown in the
picture above, it is possible that a fall will dislocate your thumb. It
is incredibly important to wear a wrist leash -- while hiking or
skiing -- with it running from the top of your wrist.
problems with trekking poles are very avoidable...and if you use them
regularly, so are the problems that arise when you don't use them...