After I recovered from hurting my back, I started using hiking poles regularly. I found several benefits to it: it is easier to get up hills, safer to come down hills (no more slipping on rocks and falling on my behind), and if necessary, I can either poke my dogs in the behind or fight off rabid raccoons. Now, granted, there aren’t that many rabid raccoons where I live, but you never know.
Lots of people tout the benefits of using hiking poles on the Camino de Santiago, and I fully plan on doing the same. (Homeland Security, however, prohibits them from carry on luggage, so I will buy them in Spain.) Most advice on the Camino stresses that you must use the poles correctly for maximum benefit. How does one do that? Here are a couple of brief videos that explain that here:
If you’d like more detailed information than this, check out this link: Effectively Using Hiking Poles: The Gas-Brake-Coast Method.