Running with Poles: A Guide to the Benefits, Tips, and Techniques

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Running with poles, also known as pole running or Nordic running, is a popular form of exercise that combines traditional running with the use of specially designed poles. While it may seem unconventional at first, running with poles offers a wide range of benefits that can enhance your overall running experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits, tips, and techniques to help you optimize your pole running performance.

Benefits of Running with Poles

Running with poles provides numerous advantages that can improve both your physical and mental well-being. Here are some key benefits of incorporating poles into your running routine:

  1. Increased upper body engagement: Unlike traditional running, pole running engages your upper body muscles, including your arms, shoulders, and core. This helps to distribute the workload across your entire body, leading to improved overall strength and endurance.
  2. Enhanced stability and balance: By utilizing poles, you can improve your stability and balance while running. The additional points of contact with the ground provide increased support, especially on uneven terrain or during challenging trail runs.
  3. Reduced impact on joints: The use of poles can help absorb some of the impact on your joints, particularly during downhill sections or when running on hard surfaces. This can alleviate stress on your knees, ankles, and hips, reducing the risk of injuries.
  4. Improved cardiovascular fitness: Running with poles requires more effort and energy expenditure compared to traditional running. This increased intensity can lead to improved cardiovascular fitness, helping you to develop a stronger heart and lungs.
  5. Increased calorie burn: Due to the additional muscle engagement and increased intensity, running with poles can burn more calories compared to regular running. This is particularly beneficial for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy body composition.

Tips for Mastering the Art of Running with Poles

To make the most of your pole running experience, follow these essential tips:

  1. Choose the right poles: Select poles that are specifically designed for running. They should be lightweight, adjustable, and have ergonomic handles for a comfortable grip.
  2. Proper pole length: Adjust the pole length according to your height and running style. As a general rule, the poles should measure around waist height or slightly below when standing upright.
  3. Correct pole placement: When running, plant the poles slightly behind your body, allowing them to propel you forward. Avoid planting the poles too far ahead, as this can disrupt your natural running rhythm.
  4. Gradual integration: If you are new to pole running, start by incorporating them into shorter runs or during specific training sessions. Gradually increase the duration and distance as you become more comfortable with the technique.
  5. Focus on technique: Pay attention to your posture, arm swing, and synchronization with your stride. Maintain a relaxed grip on the poles and aim for a fluid and natural movement.
  6. Practice on various terrains: Experiment with running on different terrains, such as roads, trails, or even hills. This will help you adapt to various conditions and enhance your overall running abilities.
  7. Listen to your body: As with any form of exercise, it is important to listen to your body and avoid overexertion. If you experience any pain or discomfort, take a break or consult a medical professional.

By following these tips, you can gradually master the art of running with poles and maximize the benefits it offers.

Techniques to Optimize Your Running Performance

To optimize your pole running performance, consider incorporating the following techniques into your training:

  1. Double poling: This technique involves using both poles simultaneously for added propulsion. It is particularly useful when you need an extra push on steep inclines or during sprints.
  2. Single poling: Single poling involves alternating the use of your poles, similar to the arm swing in regular running. This technique allows for a more natural and rhythmic running motion.
  3. Varying pole angles: Experiment with different angles when planting the poles. A slightly forward angle can help with uphill climbs, while a more vertical angle can provide stability on downhill descents.
  4. Cadence and stride synchronization: Aim to synchronize your pole plants with your stride, ensuring a smooth and efficient running motion. This will help maintain momentum and prevent any disruption to your rhythm.
  5. Efficient arm swing: Focus on maintaining a relaxed yet purposeful arm swing. Avoid excessive tension or tightness in your arms, allowing for a fluid movement that complements your running stride.

By incorporating these techniques into your pole running routine, you can optimize your performance and make the most of this unique form of exercise.

In conclusion, running with poles offers a comprehensive range of benefits, including increased upper body engagement, enhanced stability, reduced impact on joints, improved cardiovascular fitness, and increased calorie burn. By following the essential tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can master the art of running with poles and take your running performance to new heights. Embrace the poles, explore different terrains, and enjoy the countless rewards of this exciting and beneficial exercise.


1. Is running with poles suitable for beginners?

Yes, running with poles can be suitable for beginners. However, it is recommended to start with shorter distances and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you become more comfortable and familiar with the technique.

2. Can I use regular hiking poles for running?

While regular hiking poles can be used for running, it is advisable to invest in poles specifically designed for running. These poles are typically lighter, more adjustable, and have ergonomic handles that provide better grip and comfort during running.

3. Will running with poles slow me down?

Initially, running with poles may require some adjustment and may slightly affect your pace. However, with practice and proper technique, running with poles can actually improve your running speed and overall performance.

4. Can I use running poles on any terrain?

Yes, running poles can be used on various terrains, including roads, trails, and even hills. However, it is important to adjust your technique and pole placement according to the specific terrain to optimize your performance and stability.

5. How do I maintain proper posture while running with poles?

To maintain proper posture while running with poles, focus on keeping your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and gaze forward. Avoid slouching or leaning too far forward, as this can disrupt your balance and running efficiency.

6. Can running with poles help with injury prevention?

Yes, running with poles can help with injury prevention by reducing the impact on your joints, particularly during downhill sections or when running on hard surfaces. The additional support provided by the poles can alleviate stress on your knees, ankles, and hips.

7. How often should I incorporate pole running into my training routine?

The frequency of incorporating pole running into your training routine depends on your individual goals, fitness level, and overall training plan. It is recommended to start with one or two sessions per week and gradually increase as you progress. Listen to your body and adjust the frequency accordingly to avoid overexertion.

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