I finally got a replacement iPod last week, and have been catching up on my much-neglected library of podcasts.
Steve Sergeant’s WildeBeat had a fantastic two-part podcast about the science behind trekking poles, and whether or not they provided anyone with any sort of benefit.
There’s some great information in there – and, speaking as one of the “young, (relatively) fit 20-somethings” I can say that trekking poles do have a great impact on my hiking. When I’m using them, I generally find that I’m more stable, move faster on level ground, and ascend with less strain on my legs.
Then again, I also took the time to figure out the best way to use them in different situations. I’ve seen some people on the trail with these things who are literally dragging them alongside them while they walk.
Steve will get you on the right path. And while you’re there, go ahead and poke around some of his older podcasts. They’re good stuff.