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Ski surrounded by the Italian Dolomites' jagged peaks. Departures December through to February.
News for any remaining "pole-skeptics" out there (yes, we know there are still some!) – scientists at Northumbria University have conducted a study that proves walking poles can significantly reduce muscle damage caused by trekking!
Two groups of participants of equal fitness were tasked to hike up and down Mount Snowdon – one group aided with walking poles, the other without – while a crack team of scientific experts monitored their heart and exertion rates throughout.
Immediately after the Snowdon trek, and again at 24, 48 and 72-hour periods, the function and damage of the participants’ muscles were assessed using a variety of complex tests.
The results of which show that the group that had used poles experienced significantly less muscle soreness, as well as quicker recovery times and reduced loss of strength.
Levels of the enzyme creatine kinase (which indicates muscle damage) in the pole-using individuals were close to their pre-trekking levels, which scientists say indicates the damage the were experiencing was negligible. The presence of creatine kinase was significantly higher in the non-pole group at the 24-hour point.
“The results present strong evidence that trekking poles reduce, almost to the point of complete disappearance, the extent of muscle damage during a day’s mountain trek,” says Dr Glyn Howatson, who conducted the study.
He added: “Preventing muscle damage and soreness is likely to improve motivation and so keep people enjoying the benefits of exercise for longer. Perhaps even more advantageously, the combined benefits of using trekking poles in reducing load to the lower limbs, increasing stability and reducing muscle damage could also help avoid injury on subsequent days trekking.”
Final proof, we believe, of the importance of taking poles on your trek - your knees will thank you during the trip and its likely that your trekking career will be extended!
Are you heading off on an Inca Trail trek? If so, make sure you check out our Inca Trail Essential Kit Guide compiled by the experts at Nomad Travel & Outdoor before you go – and yes, walking poles are top of the list (but don't forget your rubber tips)!