Are you looking for a way to level up your running game? Have you considered running with poles? Not only do running/hiking poles provide extra stability and speed for trail and endurance runs, but they can also offer a host of other benefits. In this article, we’ll explore all the reasons why, and when, running with poles could be a useful addition to your running routine.

The Benefits of Running Poles

There are many benefits to running with poles. Some of the most common include:

  • Increased efficiency: Poles can help you run more efficiently by transferring energy from your upper body to your lower body. This can help you conserve energy and run longer distances.
  • Improved balance: Can help you improve your balance, especially on uneven terrain. This can help you avoid injuries and make running more enjoyable.
  • Reduced impact: They can help to reduce the impact on your joints, especially your knees and hips. This can help you prevent injuries and run longer distances.
  • Increased power: Assist in generating more power when running uphill. This can help you improve your speed and performance.
  • Improved posture: Poles can help you improve your posture by keeping your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. This can help you avoid injuries and make running more comfortable.

When talking to another runner that uses them, he said they took the pressure off his sore feet and allowed him to run more comfortably. Some just like to have them when they get tired and want some assistance. There are many different types of walking/running poles available, so it is important to find a pair that is the right length, weight, and material for you.

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When to Use Poles

There is a time and place for poles. Some say that if a course has over so many feet of elevation they will then start to use poles. This might be 3000-4000 metres for some. Others prefer to have them for anything over 30 miles with a fair amount of elevation. It’s a balance with how long it will take vs how much vert there is. If you are likely to be out there for anything more than 6 hours with around 4000 metres of climb or more, you may decide to take poles.

They need to be lightweight – consider how much kit you already have to carry. Fortunately, most poles are lightweight and many hydration vests actually come with special pockets for your poles so that you can strap them to your vest. Pick up a carbon pair of poles to ensure that they are as light as can be. Make sure you do a practise long run with all of your kit so that you can make sure you are comfortable and not weighed down.

You also want to consider the terrain before deciding whether to include poles as part of your kit. Rocky, uneven terrain may end up with your poles stuck in crevices which is going to cause you issues, especially when running and not hiking. You will soon be able to work out if they are a help or a hindrance when you are out on the course doing your recce runs.

Choosing the Right Poles for Running

Choosing the best poles for running can make all the difference in terms of comfort and performance. There are several factors to consider when selecting poles, including material, length, weight, and grip options.

First, think about the type of running you’ll be doing and the terrain you’ll be on. For example, if you’re planning on doing trail running, consider poles with a durable material like aluminum or carbon fiber that can withstand rough surfaces.

Factors to Consider

  • Material: Choose a durable material like aluminum or carbon fiber for trail running.
  • Length: Your chosen poles should be at a comfortable height at shoulder level, with adjustable sliders or twist locks.
  • Weight: Consider the weight of the poles, a lighter weight may be more comfortable over longer distances.
  • Grip Options: Look for a comfortable grip made of materials like rubber or cork, and adjust them to the right size for your hands.

Next, it’s important to find the correct length for your poles. Your poles should reach your shoulder level when standing upright with your arms by your side. Adjustable sliders or twist locks will enable you to fine-tune the length of the poles.

You should also pay attention to the overall weight of the poles. While lighter poles may be more comfortable for longer distances, heavier options may provide increased stability, particularly on uneven terrain.

Finally, check out the various grip options available such as rubber, cork, or foam. It is essential to select something that is comfortable and suitable for your grip and size of hands to maintain a secure grip.

Finding the perfect poles will greatly improve your running experience, providing added comfort, stability, and power.

Proper Technique for Running with Poles

Running with poles requires proper technique to ensure efficiency and prevent the risk of injury. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Posture: Keep your back straight and chest open, engaging your core muscles. Avoid leaning forward or hunching over the poles.
  2. Grip: Hold the poles with a relaxed grip, making sure the straps are adjusted to your hand size. Avoid squeezing the poles too tightly, which can cause tension in your forearms and shoulders.
  3. Arm Movement: Swing the poles naturally while maintaining a straight arm, avoiding excessive bending in the elbow joint. Make sure your arms are moving in coordination with your legs and stride.
  4. Stride and Cadence: Match your pole strike with your foot strike to maintain a smooth and efficient rhythm. Avoid over-striding and aim for a consistent cadence.

“With proper technique, running with poles can enhance your running experience and take your training to the next level”

By following these tips and gradually working on your technique, you can optimize the benefits of running with poles and achieve your training goals without risking injuries.

Training and Conditioning with Poles

Integrating pole-specific exercises into your training routine is the perfect way to enhance your performance and take full advantage of the benefits of running with poles. Pole training is an excellent way to build strength, stability, and endurance, ultimately leading to better running results.

Here are some pole-focused workouts and drills that will help improve your overall coordination and performance while using poles:

  • Pole lunges: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, holding your poles at your sides. Take a big step forward with your left foot and lower your body down until your left knee is at a 90-degree angle. Push up and return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise, alternating legs.
  • Pole sprints: Find an open space and run as fast as you can while holding your poles in your hands. Focus on driving your arms forward and keeping them straight to maximize your speed.
  • Pole planks: Start in a plank position with your hands on the poles. Hold this pose for as long as you can, keeping your body straight and your core engaged.

Remember to always warm up before starting any workout, and to gradually increase the intensity of your pole training as you build strength and endurance. By incorporating these pole-specific exercises into your routine, you’ll be on your way to a stronger, more efficient running experience.

Trail Running with Poles

If you are a trail runner, incorporating poles into your running routine can make a significant difference in your overall experience. The stability and support provided by poles can help you navigate uneven terrain and tackle steep inclines with greater ease and confidence.

Using poles in trail running can also improve your traction and balance, especially when crossing streams, mud, rocks, or other obstacles. To maximize the benefit of running with poles on the trail, it’s essential to adapt your pole technique to match the terrain and conditions you’ll be encountering.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of pole-assisted trail running:

  • Shorten the poles on steep uphills and lengthen them on downhills to maintain balance and control.
  • Use the straps to secure the poles to your hands, allowing you to release your grip without dropping the poles.
  • Plant the poles slightly behind your feet when running on flatter terrain to avoid tripping over the poles.
  • Tuck the poles close to your body when running through narrow trails or overgrown bushes to avoid getting snagged.

Incorporating poles into your trail running routine requires some practice, patience, and experimentation to find the right fit and technique. Over time, you will enjoy the added benefits of increased endurance, reduced muscle fatigue, and improved overall performance, along with a new sense of adventure and exploration in your trail running experience.

Endurance Running with Poles

If you’re aiming to conquer a marathon or an ultra-distance event, running with poles may give you the edge you need to maintain your performance over extended periods.

Endurance running with poles can provide invaluable support to help you maintain consistent energy levels while reducing muscle fatigue and intensity. The poles can help to distribute the burden of long-distance running throughout the upper body, helping to improve posture and reduce unnecessary strain on the legs.

By utilizing poles during endurance events, you can also take advantage of the opportunity to rest your lower body muscles intermittently. This technique can help delay the onset of fatigue and improve overall endurance, ensuring you have enough energy and stamina to cross the finish line.

endurance running with poles

Integrating poles into your endurance running routine can take some practice and adjustment. It’s important to choose the right poles and use them correctly to avoid causing discomfort or injury. It’s also important to note that some running events may not allow the use of poles for safety reasons, so it’s always best to check the rules and regulations of the event before using them.

Integrating Poles into Your Running Routine

If you are new to running with poles, it’s essential to start slowly and gradually integrate them into your regular running routine. Incorporating poles too quickly or using them too often can lead to muscle strains or injuries.

Begin by incorporating shorter runs with poles into your routine and slowly increase the duration and frequency as you become more comfortable using them. Here are some practical suggestions on when and where to use poles during regular runs:

  • Use poles during uphill runs to help provide stability and engage the upper body muscles.
  • Take advantage of poles during downhill runs to help control speed and reduce impact on joints.
  • Incorporate poles during longer runs to help reduce fatigue and maintain a consistent pace.

Remember, adjusting to running with poles takes time, and every runner’s experience may differ. It’s essential to listen to your body and adjust accordingly when integrating poles into your running routine.


Safety Precautions and Etiquette for Running with Poles

Running with poles has many benefits, but it also requires certain safety precautions and etiquette to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

Safety Precautions

1. Be aware of your surroundings – while using poles can enhance your running experience, it can also limit your ability to hear and see potential hazards on your path. It’s crucial to stay alert and mindful while running with poles, especially on busy trails or in areas with limited visibility.

2. Use pole tips safely – make sure that your pole tips are secure and not worn down. Avoid pointing them towards other runners, and never use poles with sharp or jagged tips that could cause injury.

3. Avoid areas with potential hazards – while using poles can help you tackle challenging terrain safely, it’s essential to avoid areas with steep drops, loose footing, or other potential hazards that could pose a risk to you or other runners on the trail.



1. Yield to other runners – if you encounter other runners on the trail, step aside and allow them to pass, especially if they are not using poles. This is not only courteous, but it also ensures that everyone can maintain a safe and consistent pace.

2. Keep your poles low – avoid holding your poles high in crowded areas or in groups as they could accidentally hit other runners. Keep your poles towards the ground and use your arms to stabilize yourself without causing harm to others.

3. Be considerate of your surroundings – respect the environment and the other runners on your path. Do not litter, and always keep your poles and their accessories with you at all times.

Following these safety precautions and etiquette will ensure that you can enjoy running with poles safely and harmoniously with others.


Running with poles is a simple yet effective way to elevate your running experience. By incorporating poles into your routine, you can improve your balance, posture, upper body engagement, and tackle challenging terrains with ease.

Choosing the right poles, proper technique, and conditioning with poles are key factors that will help you maximize the benefits of this training tool. Trail and endurance running can also be enhanced with poles, as they provide better traction, navigation, and energy conservation.

Integrating poles into your running routine may take some time, but with gradual adaptation and practice, it can become a seamless and transformative tool for your training. However, it’s also important to ensure safety precautions and trail etiquette are always considered when using poles in a group setting or on shared trails.

Give running with poles a try to experience the many benefits it has to offer. With this simple addition, you can enhance your running journey and achieve your fitness goals with greater ease and stability.


What is running with poles?

Running with poles is a technique that involves using specially designed poles while running to enhance stability, speed, and efficiency.

What are the benefits of running with poles?

Running with poles offers numerous benefits, including improved balance and posture, reduced impact on joints, increased upper body engagement, and better ability to navigate challenging terrains.

How do I choose the right poles for running?

When selecting poles for running, consider factors such as material, length, weight, and grip options. It’s important to find poles that are the perfect fit for your height and running stride.

What is the proper technique for running with poles?

The correct technique for running with poles involves maintaining proper posture, gripping the poles correctly, and coordinating your arm movement with your stride and cadence.

How can I incorporate poles into my training and conditioning?

You can incorporate poles into your training routine by adding pole-specific exercises to build strength, stability, and endurance. There are various workouts and drills that can help improve your overall performance while using poles.

What are the benefits of running with poles in trail running?

Running with poles during trail running provides benefits such as improved traction, increased confidence on uneven terrain, and better navigation through obstacles.

How can running with poles benefit endurance running?

Running with poles can be advantageous in endurance running as it helps conserve energy, reduce muscle fatigue, and maintain a consistent pace during long-distance races or endurance events.

How can I integrate poles into my running routine?

You can integrate poles into your running routine by gradually introducing them during regular runs and finding opportunities where they can be used effectively to enhance your running experience.

What safety precautions should I take when running with poles?

When running with poles, it’s important to be mindful of others on the trail, avoid potential hazards, and practice proper pole usage in group settings. Safety should always be a priority.

What is the trail etiquette for running with poles?

When using poles on the trail, it’s important to be considerate of other trail users, yield to those who don’t have poles, and follow any specific trail rules or guidelines regarding pole usage.