Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

In Defense Of Hiking Poles

May 17, 2020


Physical Therapy 101 requires the utilization of an assistive device (crutches, cane) for any patient who cannot walk without a noticeable limp or deviation in their gait. These interventions are designed to improve a patient’s pain, safety, energy expenditure, and most importantly participation in the activities they enjoy. In our Boulder orthopedic and sports medicine practice we commonly observe gait deviations among patients with lower quarter symptoms. These impairments often precipitate or perpetuate a patient’s current back, hip, or knee pain because of the abnormal forces encountered utilizing an impaired gait. Treatment directed at the symptomatic area will only provide short term relief until gait is normalized because of the thousands of steps taken by the average person each day.

A small percentage of patients refuse the assistive device for fear of looking old, but let’s be honest that ship may have sailed when they limped across the gym floor. As our Physical Therapy treatments address the injured tissue and contributing factors such as weakness, the assistive device helps normalize gait until the patient is able to walk without significant deviations. In Boulder, all of our patients want to participate in mountain activities including hiking as long as possible. Hiking poles are an excellent piece of equipment shown in the research to reduce forces across healthy and injured joints in the lower extremity, improve balance on uneven surfaces, and increase caloric expenditure without perceived increases in exertion.

Hiking poles remain an excellent choice to reduce pain and improve your tolerance for the activities you enjoy. They are an excellent short term solution as you wait for the long term benefits of strength training to take hold, but can also be a great long term solution to increase your participation in all of the great mountain activities Colorado has to offer.

Click Here to learn more about which treatments are best for your hiking injury