Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hiking with Arthritis: Urban Poling Nordic Poles Review

My first urban test of the Activator poles
When I went to my OASIS clinic assessment with a physiotherapist, she recommended I try Nordic pole walking so that I could take some of the weight off my arthritic hip. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I tested some out at the clinic & noticed a big difference, even when just using them in a short hallway. I registered for the OASIS pole walking class to get more information & have a chance to try them out for a more extended period of time.

If you're not familiar with Nordic poles--they're also called trekking poles or exerstriding poles--they're much like cross country ski poles, but with rubber tips that fit over the metal points so they can be used on pavement in the city too. Using two poles, rather than one cane, means better posture & balance. Putting some weight on my arms takes enough pressure off my hip (apparently about 30%) that I can walk without pain.

I liked being able to walk faster too--using my cane limits my speed a lot, I find. I think having the poles means I'll be able to do some light hiking again. Probably not anything like the several hours of steep terrain like the Stawamus Chief or the Grouse Grind that I used to do, but the kids are a bit young for that anyway. I'm hoping my abilities will match theirs, at least for a little while.

A soggy hike along Lower Lynn Creek: the spikes came in handy
I did some shopping around online, plus I stopped in at a store on my way back from the OASIS pole walking class. There are poles you can get for $35 or so online, but I'm suspicious of the quality at that price point. I liked the features of the poles we used in the OASIS class, so I ordered the same ones from Urban Poling, a local company based in North Vancouver. Like all of the Nordic poles, they're adjustable, but the Urban Poling Activator series have a button click mechanism (like what you'd find on crutches) which is easier to use than the more common twist lock style & won't loosen & slip. The handles are also a different shape--specific to the right & left hand with a thicker grip & a flange at the bottom to allow resting the side of your hands on it. Gripping a narrower handle means more hand & wrist strain, potentially.

I got the Activator poles just a few days after ordering & tried them out on a short walk that day. I can definitely go at a good walking pace now, which is nice. In the next few weeks I tried them out a couple more times & I'm really starting to love them. I've been able to walk on the seawall for an hour, & go on a short hike in the woods with hardly any pain at all. The cane tips are great on pavement & when on trails that are more steep or muddy, I pop off the tips to use the metal spikes underneath. I felt really stable with the poles climbing up & down a steep muddy slope.

I found that the first times I used the poles my arm & shoulder muscles really got a workout, so I was sore the next day. However, it was good pain--muscle stiffness from the exercise--not bad pain, like from the arthritis. The third time I used the poles I didn't notice any muscle stiffness at all afterward.

Overall, I'm really glad I got my Urban Poling Nordic poles. I definitely recommend them if you're looking at getting some, particularly if you have arthritis. They're $99, though you may be able to find at coupon code online to save $10 or so.

Disclaimer: I purchased the Urban Poling Nordic poles myself & was not compensated in any way for writing this post.

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