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How To Use Trekking Poles While Running?


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Rosabelle Valentin



When it comes to running, there are various techniques and equipment that can enhance your performance and make the experience more enjoyable. One such piece of equipment that is gaining popularity among runners is trekking poles. Originally designed for hiking and trekking, these poles can also be effectively used while running, providing several benefits to runners of all levels.


Trekking poles offer stability, balance, and support, allowing runners to navigate challenging terrains with greater ease. The poles are especially beneficial when running on uneven trails, steep inclines, or slippery surfaces, as they help distribute the weight and reduce the impact on the joints, especially the knees.


Additionally, using trekking poles while running engages the muscles in the upper body, giving you a full-body workout and increasing your overall endurance. The added arm movement also helps propel you forward, leading to improved speed and efficiency.


In this article, we will explore the benefits of using trekking poles while running, guide you in choosing the right poles for your needs, teach you how to adjust and hold them properly, provide tips for proper technique and form, and offer essential safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable running experience.


Whether you are a seasoned trail runner or someone looking to add a new dimension to your running routine, learning how to use trekking poles while running can be a game-changer. So let’s dive in and discover the incredible benefits and techniques of incorporating trekking poles into your running regimen.


Benefits of Using Trekking Poles for Running

Using trekking poles while running offers a variety of benefits that can enhance your performance and overall experience. Let’s explore some of the key advantages:

  1. Increased Stability: One of the primary benefits of using trekking poles while running is improved stability. The poles provide extra points of contact with the ground, helping you maintain balance and navigate challenging terrains more easily. This can be especially useful when running on uneven surfaces, muddy trails, or steep inclines.
  2. Reduced Joint Impact: Running can place a significant amount of stress on your joints, particularly the knees. By utilizing trekking poles, you can distribute the impact across your entire body, thus reducing the strain on your lower body joints. This can be especially beneficial for runners who are prone to knee pain or recovering from an injury.
  3. Increased Upper Body Engagement: Running with trekking poles engages the muscles in your upper body, including the arms, shoulders, and back. This not only provides a more balanced and symmetrical workout but also helps improve your overall endurance and upper body strength.
  4. Improved Efficiency and Speed: When used correctly, trekking poles can help propel you forward, increasing your speed and overall running efficiency. The additional arm movement can act as a driving force, allowing you to cover more ground with less effort.
  5. Enhanced Confidence: For those new to trail running or running on challenging terrains, trekking poles can provide an added sense of confidence and security. Having the extra support and stability allows you to tackle more difficult trails with greater ease, helping you build confidence and push your limits.

These are just a few of the many benefits that runners can experience by incorporating trekking poles into their running routine. However, it’s important to remember that proper technique and form are crucial to fully reap these advantages. In the following sections, we will guide you on choosing the right poles, adjusting and holding them properly, and provide tips for using them effectively while running.


Choosing the Right Trekking Poles for Running

When it comes to selecting trekking poles for running, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure you choose the right ones for your needs. Here are some guidelines to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Material: Trekking poles are typically made of either aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are more budget-friendly and durable, making them a suitable choice for beginners or runners on a tight budget. Carbon fiber poles, on the other hand, are lighter and offer better shock absorption, making them ideal for those looking for lightweight options or planning to run longer distances.
  2. Weight: The weight of the poles is an important factor to consider, especially if you’re planning to run long distances. Lighter poles will minimize fatigue and allow for easier and faster movement. However, keep in mind that lighter poles may sacrifice durability, so strike a balance between weight and sturdiness based on your running needs.
  3. Adjustability: Look for poles that offer adjustable lengths. This allows you to customize the height according to your height and the terrain you’ll be running on. Adjustable poles also offer versatility, as they can be shortened for climbs or lengthened for descents. Quick-lock or twist-lock mechanisms are popular choices for easy and secure adjustments.
  4. Grip and Strap: The grip of the pole should be comfortable and provide a firm hold. Look for grips made of cork, foam, or rubber, as they offer good grip and absorb moisture. Additionally, adjustable wrist straps are essential for ensuring proper pole placement and preventing them from slipping out of your hands.
  5. Tips: Consider the type of tips the poles come with. Rubber tips are suitable for paved or rocky surfaces, while carbide or steel tips provide better traction on muddy or soft terrains. Some poles also come with interchangeable tips, allowing you to switch between different surfaces easily.

It’s essential to try out different poles and experiment with the features mentioned above to find the right ones that feel comfortable and suit your running style. Keep in mind that your preference may evolve over time, so be open to trying different options until you find the perfect trekking poles for your running adventures.


Adjusting and Holding the Trekking Poles Properly

Proper adjustment and grip of the trekking poles are crucial to ensure optimal performance and avoid discomfort or injury while running. Here are some steps to help you adjust and hold the poles correctly:

  1. Adjusting the Length: Start by adjusting the length of the poles. Ideally, when holding the poles, your elbow joint should be at a 90-degree angle. This allows for proper arm swing and efficient movement. Adjust the poles accordingly, making them longer for downhill sections and shorter for uphill sections.
  2. Gripping the Poles: Hold the poles with a relaxed grip, allowing your hands and fingers to wrap comfortably around the grips. The straps should be positioned around your wrists, offering support without squeezing tightly. This strap placement allows you to have a more relaxed grip and lets the poles swing naturally as you run.
  3. Hand Placement: For a standard grip, place your hands on the top of the pole grips, allowing your fingers to comfortably wrap around the grip surface. This position provides stability and control while running. Some poles also have extended grip sections below the main grips, which can be useful during steep descents or when terrain demands additional support.
  4. Strap Adjustment: Adjust the wrist straps of the poles to ensure a secure fit. The straps should be snugly wrapped around your wrists, allowing you to transfer the weight to the straps while reaping the benefits of the poles. Avoid tightening the straps too much, as this can restrict blood circulation and cause discomfort.
  5. Practice: Take some time to practice your grip and adjustment of the poles before heading out for a run. Ensure you feel comfortable and confident with your hand placement and the adjustments you’ve made for the terrain. Practicing in a controlled environment will help you fine-tune your technique and ensure a smoother running experience.

Remember, everyone’s hand size and preference may vary, so feel free to experiment with different hand positions and adjustments until you find what works best for you. The key is to maintain a relaxed grip and have a firm hold on the poles to maximize their efficiency and support during your runs.


Proper Technique and Form for Running with Trekking Poles

Running with trekking poles requires proper technique and form to maximize their benefits and ensure efficient movement. Here are some essential tips to help you maintain the right technique:

  1. Arm Swing: Allow your arms to swing naturally with the rhythm of your running. As one foot moves forward, the opposite hand with the trekking pole should move backward, mirroring the regular arm swing motion. This coordinated movement helps maintain balance and momentum.
  2. Planting the Poles: As you run, plant the poles slightly ahead of your body, just like you would with your feet. The poles should make contact with the ground around the same time as your foot strike, providing an additional point of stability and reducing the impact on your joints.
  3. Push-off with Poles: Utilize the poles to push off the ground and propel yourself forward. This technique helps provide extra power and acceleration, making your running more efficient and faster. Focus on using your arms and the force generated by the poles to assist you in your forward movement.
  4. Swing and Release: After planting the poles, allow them to swing naturally behind you as you stride forward, releasing your grip slightly to let them swing freely. This motion prevents any unnecessary tension in your upper body and allows for a faster and smoother arm movement.
  5. Keep a Relaxed Upper Body: Maintain a relaxed posture and avoid tensing your shoulders or squeezing the grips tightly. Relaxing your upper body will help conserve energy and reduce any unnecessary strain or fatigue. Focus on breathing deeply and maintaining a fluid and relaxed running motion.

Remember to start incorporating trekking poles into your running gradually. Begin with shorter runs or try them out on easier terrains to familiarize yourself with the technique and adjust to the additional support and movement.


It’s also worth mentioning that the technique may vary depending on the terrain and running conditions. Adjust your form accordingly to optimize your performance and maintain stability throughout your runs.


With practice, proper technique, and consistent usage, trekking poles can become valuable tools in enhancing your running experience, increasing speed, and reducing the strain on your joints. Embrace the learning process, be patient, and enjoy the added benefits that come with incorporating trekking poles into your running routine.


Warm-up Exercises for Running with Trekking Poles

Before hitting the trails or embarking on a run with trekking poles, it’s important to properly warm up your body to prevent injuries and optimize your performance. Here are some warm-up exercises that specifically target the muscles used while running with trekking poles:

  1. Arm Circles: Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms straight out to the sides and begin making circular motions with your arms. Gradually increase the size of the circles, focusing on loosening up your shoulder joints and warming up the muscles in your upper body. Repeat for 30 seconds in each direction.
  2. Shoulder Rolls: Stand tall and relax your shoulders. Slowly roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, then reverse the direction and roll them backward. Perform 10 rolls in each direction to release tension in your shoulders and upper back.
  3. Triceps Stretch: With one arm extended overhead, bend your elbow and reach your hand behind your head. Use the opposite hand to gently pull your elbow towards the opposite side, feeling a stretch along the back of your arm. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch to the other arm.
  4. Walking Lunges: Take a step forward with your right foot and lunge down until your right knee forms a 90-degree angle. As you lunge down, drive your left arm forward and extend the right trekking pole behind you. Push off with your front foot and bring your left foot forward, repeating the lunge motion on the opposite side. Perform 10-12 lunges on each leg, alternating with the arm and pole extension.
  5. Leg Swings: Standing beside a stable object, balance yourself with one hand and swing your opposite leg forward and backward in a controlled manner. This exercise helps loosen up your hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes. Perform 10 swings on each leg.

These warm-up exercises target the key muscle groups involved in running with trekking poles while also promoting mobility and flexibility. Remember to perform each exercise slowly and with control, focusing on proper form and alignment.


After completing these warm-up exercises, you’ll be adequately prepared to tackle your run with trekking poles. Keep in mind that warming up is essential for injury prevention and optimal performance, so don’t skip this crucial step before hitting the trails.


Tips for Using Trekking Poles While Running

Using trekking poles while running can greatly enhance your performance and overall experience on the trails. To make the most of this helpful equipment, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start Slow: If you’re new to running with trekking poles, start with shorter runs and gradually increase your distance as you become more comfortable and confident with the poles. This will allow your body to adapt to the new technique and minimize the risk of overuse injuries.
  2. Maintain a Rhythm: Find a rhythm that works for you by synchronizing your arm and leg movements with the pole placement. This coordinated motion helps maintain balance and efficiency while running.
  3. Choose the Right Pole Length for the Terrain: Adjust the length of your poles depending on the terrain you’ll be running on. Shorten them for uphill sections to help with uphill propulsion, and lengthen them for downhill sections to provide stability and balance.
  4. Pay Attention to Foot Placement: While running with trekking poles, it’s essential to maintain proper foot placement. Make sure your foot strikes the ground under your center of gravity, keeping your stride natural and efficient.
  5. Practice Descending Techniques: Descending with trekking poles can be challenging initially. Practice using your poles to brace yourself and control your speed while descending steep trails. This will help you build confidence and improve your technique.
  6. Stay Hydrated: Using trekking poles can increase your upper body muscle engagement, leading to higher energy expenditure. Remember to stay hydrated by carrying a water bottle or using a hydration pack while running.
  7. Regularly Inspect Your Poles: Before each run, inspect your trekking poles for any signs of damage or wear. Check the locking mechanisms, tips, and grips to ensure they are secure and in good condition. Replace any worn-out or damaged components as necessary.
  8. Consider Endurance Training: Incorporating endurance training can help you build stamina and improve your performance while using trekking poles. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your runs to enhance your cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
  9. Listen to Your Body: Always listen to your body and adjust your technique or intensity accordingly. If you experience any pain or discomfort, take a break, and assess the issue. It’s important to address any potential issues to prevent injuries and ensure a positive running experience.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to fully harness the benefits of using trekking poles while running and enjoy a smoother and more efficient trail running experience.


Safety Precautions and Recommendations

While running with trekking poles can be a rewarding experience, it’s important to prioritize safety. Here are some key safety precautions and recommendations to keep in mind:

  1. Choose Appropriate Terrain: Select trails that are suitable for running with trekking poles. Avoid extremely technical or narrow trails that can hinder proper pole placement or cause tripping hazards.
  2. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings: Always stay aware of your surroundings while running with trekking poles. Keep an eye out for obstacles, roots, rocks, or other potential hazards on the trail. Maintain a safe distance from other runners or hikers to prevent accidental contact with the poles.
  3. Adjust Pole Length Carefully: Take the time to adjust the length of your trekking poles before each run. Ensure they are secure and locked in place to prevent any unexpected collapses while running.
  4. Practice Proper Trail Etiquette: Be considerate of other trail users. Yield the right-of-way to hikers and slower runners, and make your presence known when passing. Avoid obstructing the trail with your poles or taking up excessive space.
  5. Hydrate and Protect Yourself from the Sun: Stay properly hydrated during your runs by carrying water or using a hydration pack. Additionally, protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to prevent sunburn and heat-related illnesses.
  6. Mind Your Technique: Ensure you maintain proper running form and technique while using trekking poles. Avoid leaning heavily on the poles or relying solely on them for support. Use them as an aid to enhance your running, not as a crutch.
  7. Inspect Your Gear Regularly: Regularly check your trekking poles for any signs of wear or damage. Replace worn-out or damaged components to maintain the reliability and safety of your equipment.
  8. Gradually Increase Intensity: When first starting to run with trekking poles, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your runs. This allows your muscles and joints to gradually adapt to the added support and impact of the poles.
  9. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort, pain, or fatigue in your body. If you experience persistent or worsening pain, take a break and consult with a healthcare professional to address any potential issues.
  10. Run with a Buddy: Whenever possible, run with a buddy or let someone know about your running plans and estimated return time. This ensures that there is someone aware of your whereabouts in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

By following these safety precautions and recommendations, you can enjoy the benefits of running with trekking poles while minimizing the risk of accidents or injuries. Prioritize safety and responsible trail running practices to have a positive and enjoyable outdoor experience.



Running with trekking poles can be a game-changer for trail runners, offering stability, balance, and enhanced performance. By incorporating trekking poles into your running routine, you can enjoy a range of benefits, including increased stability on challenging terrains, reduced joint impact, better upper body engagement, improved efficiency and speed, and enhanced confidence.


Choosing the right trekking poles for running is essential. Consider factors such as material, weight, adjustability, grip, and tips to find poles that suit your needs and preferences. Adjusting and holding the poles properly, with a relaxed grip and secure wrist strap, is crucial for optimal performance and comfort.


Proper technique and form are key when running with trekking poles. Maintain a coordinated arm swing, plant the poles at the right timing, and focus on a relaxed upper body posture. Warm-up exercises ensure your body is prepared for the demands of running with trekking poles, while safety precautions like choosing appropriate terrain, staying aware of surroundings, and inspecting gear help prevent accidents and injuries.


Remember to gradually increase your running distance and intensity, listen to your body, and run with proper form to fully enjoy the benefits of using trekking poles. These powerful tools can transform your running experience, allowing you to conquer challenging trails with confidence and ease.


So, lace up your running shoes, grab your trekking poles, and embark on your next adventure. Embrace the support and stability they provide while immersing yourself in the beauty of nature and the thrill of trail running. Keep exploring, challenging yourself, and embracing the joy of running with trekking poles!