Leki Micro Magic walking poles

leki-micro-review

Could a pair of walking poles really help my aching leg muscles?

I have a confession to make. For years I have laughed at walkers with poles. I have pooh-poohed poles as an annoying waste of time; as a cheat’s crutch. I have tried my partner’s walking poles (he swears by them for easier walking) but I have found them to be irritating, awkward and painful for my shoulders.

But I have had to face facts. I have a big event coming up, the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon, which involves, among other tough disciplines, a walk/run over seven Munros and 15 miles. I need all the help I can get to minimise leg pain and muscle fatigue.

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So I had a look on-line at walking poles studies. I discovered that walking poles, especially lightweight poles that are designed for Nordic walkers, are a great way to aid walking endurance and save the usual pain in leg muscles. (My partner pointed out that he had been telling me this for years but I needed to read some research to be convinced.)

On test: Leki Micro Magic Poles

Leki are a big name in walking poles and they sell a huge range. I was recommended the Micro Magic Poles because they are lightweight (made of carbon and weighing just 400g per pair), easily foldable and have a clever “Trigger Shark Strap”.

In fact, it is the Trigger Shark Strap that has been the game changer. The strap looks like a topless glove. The set-up goes around the hand, palm and thumb to offer a comfortable and adjustable glove-like fit.

noname-1The strap is affixed to the pole handle with a small loop of cord. With the Trigger Shark Strap I found that my hands could relax while still supported and attached to the pole. When walking, I quickly found a rhythm whereby I could gently hold the handle and position the pole in line with my steps.

noname-2The poles had a great “swing”. This felt like a nicely weighted pendulum swing –  each time I paced out, the poles seemed to position themselves into the right place for the next step. I have no idea how this works but I expect it is down to the design, weight and the ability of the user.

If you think of what Nordic walkers look like in action then you can imagine how these poles work while walking in Scotland’s mountains.

The poles come in fixed lengths so you need to make sure you buy the right size (105-130 cm) to suit your height. When not in use they fold into three parts for easy stowing and carrying.

Walking with Leki Micro Magic poles

I took the Leki Micro Magic poles to the Kintail area of the Highlands for two days of Munro bagging. In total I walked 10 Munros (one of them twice). I have to confess I found the poles to be a huge asset on both the ascent and descent.

noname-4Contrary to what I have always believed, these poles were easy to manage and aided the uphill by reinforcing stability on difficult terrain. On the descent I learned how to use the poles to balance myself on steep sections. The poles significantly helped to reduce the pain in my quads as I walked downhill after two days of hiking.

After walking seven Munros on the South Glen Shiel Ridge on day one I would normally need to take several days off the walking. But the following day my legs managed to take me around another three Munros.

My legs were not super fresh on day two but they were able to cope with 1300m more of ascent and descent.

I also noticed that the poles gave me a good upper body workout. When using poles the whole body is more engaged with the walking and I can see that my shoulders and arms would benefit from the toning powers of mountain walking.

I have only a couple of concerns with the poles. First, I found that my hands became tanned all around the Trigger Shark straps so I have been left with rather odd white lines!

Secondly, I could easily fit thin gloves under the straps but I doubt these straps would work so well with the bulky gloves that I use in winter. My partner pointed out that these poles are more suitable for summer walking but I would really like to use them in winter, too.

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All in all, though, these walking poles have been an amazing discovery. I am now something of a born-again walking poles evangelist.

You can buy Leki Micro Magic poles from Ultra Light Outdoor Gear and My Race Kit for £129.99



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One comment on “Leki Micro Magic walking poles
  1. Stephanie says:

    Hello from across the pond! I am from the US (half Scots myself) and I am a Nordic Walker with an embarrassingly large collection of Leki poles,and I am an American Nordic Walking Association Basic Level Instructor. I learned of this sport when I was recovering from Breast Cancer treatment (modified radical mastectomy, 8 treatments of dose dense chemo and 28 radiation treatments). I was reading about lymphedema and saw Nordic Walking recommended to avoid lymphedema and frozen shoulder. I thought it was the silliest thing I’d ever seen and swore I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it. The next time I saw the article I started to click the links and read about all the health benefits I’d miss if I didn’t do it. Just before I finished my radiation, I ordered poles, two books, a DVD. My right arm and chest muscles are almost 100% normal an I do not have lymphedema. I am training myself to do a half marathon to see if I could really do that at nearly age 64. I’ve managed to go 10.2 miles and am trying to get to that 13.1. I remember 3/11/2013 clinging to those poles and slowly going around 4/10 of a mile of parking lot. A month later I joined ANWA and became an instructor 9/28/13. Ive come a long way in just over 1 1/2 years. I love Nordic Walking and will do it ad long as I can stand up.

    I noted that you were concerned with cold weather. Leki sells ski gloves that work with your Shark grips. They will replace the warm weather straps and click into place. Check Leki’s UK site and you will see gloves with the loop between the thumb and forefinger. Happy poling!

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