Get Your Gay Rhythm with Trekking Poles
Since moving to Wilton Manors to enjoy more of South Florida’s LGBT lifestyle I have been stopped several times while out walking by gay men and women inquiring about the trekking poles I use.
I have been a fitness walker since giving up running. Walking can be done almost anywhere in almost any conditions and requires no specialized equipment. A good pair of walking shoes is always ready to take me out.
As age has chased me through life, better shoes and an occasional knee support kept me moving comfortably. Eventually I found glucosamine, which for several years kept my knees moving painlessly. Then even new shoes and glucosamine could no longer keep knee pain at bay though there was no medical problem.
I knew about trekking poles though they seemed out of place in flat and sunny Florida. After some research I concluded there was no definitive position on their effectiveness. Trying trekking poles seemed the logical next step and I happened upon a pair at Target for less than a supply of glucosamine.
The trekking poles I bought were simply for trial purposes and I quickly upgraded to a high quality set of telescoping trekking poles. Recently I even made my own pair from a suitable length pair of ski poles with wide wrist straps acquired at Faith Farm for next to nothing; these work just fine though time will tell if the spring loaded grips on the good ones are really valuable.
Using trekking poles on streets and sidewalks requires a rubber tip, some come with them. These tips wear quickly and are expensive. You can easily slip chair leg bottoms over your rubber tips as explained in my review at Amazon.
Setting the height of telescoping poles is easy. Twist in the direction indicated on the pole and extend the two lower sections from the grip section. Set the height so when you grip the pole your forearm is parallel to the ground. The pole is most stable if the two extending sections are the same length, vs. one being longer than the other. Be careful not to extend either length past its indicated maximum, they are difficult to get realigned.
The grip is for controlling the pole, not for actually grabbing onto. The strap transfers the weight from your wrist to the pole. Adjust the strap so your palm is firm against the strap when you grasp the grip. Keeping your hand firmly attached to the grip by the strap helps to reduce the tendency to grasp the grip to push off. The push off should come from your wrist. If your hand becomes tired you are gripping the pole too tightly.
After a short distance stop and check that your poles have maintained their height and remain equal length. Getting them to stay their set length may take a few adjustments.
Getting used to placing the tip of the pole is easy and will seem natural once you find the spot though until you get the gay rhythm going they can seem rather useless.
I carry the poles close to my sides by keeping my forearms directly in front of the elbow. Keeping a tight walking stance allows more control and also allows others to easily pass you in either direction on a sidewalk. There is a tendency to look down, particularly as your speed increases, though I find a head up position to be more natural and comfortable. Walking on a sidewalk or a known route with little traffic facilitates keeping the head up.
Place the tip of the pole just to the outside of the foot being loaded with weight. Depending on how much weight you intend to transfer to the pole and your speed, place the tip on the ground at a point between the rear of your shoe and a shoe length behind the foot you are loading with weight. The grounding tip of the pole never moves forward of your body center line. It is always behind you; if you find yourself tripping on the pole you are bringing it too far forward.
Allow your arm to load weight at the same time your opposite foot loads weight. More weight on the pole strap delivers less weight, stress and jolt to the knee and hip and provides an improved upper body workout.
After more than a month of almost daily use I found that I no longer needed glucosamine, knees were pain free, route was completed in about 10 percent less time, additional distance added to my route to get back to my time goal, get a full body workout with my upper body fully engaged, walking heart rate is higher, experience a more vigorous workout, increased my calorie intake to keep my weight normal, balance at my faster pace is stable as I have three points of contact with the ground on each step vs. one.
Trekking poles are of significant value to my daily exercise. They allow for faster speed and greater stability while walking fast. Taking advantage of that increased speed and stability makes a healthy walk into a fitness walk.
Fitness walking includes interval training. Interval training is pushing the heart rate up and then resting again. I first calculated my maximum heart rate and minimum and maximum training heart rates and then worked out an interval training schedule for my route. Maximum and training heart rates can be calculated using online calculators that take into account your age, fitness level and training condition. Obviously, check with your medical professional before beginning any training program.
Next time you see the guy walking down Wilton Drive with ski poles, that’s me.