Did you know there is a correct way to use trekking poles? After finding their perfect trekking pole match, most people new to using trekking poles think it is as simple as putting your hands through the straps and then trekking along. While it is simple to use trekking poles, there is a correct way to use them in order to abstain from injuries to yourself and breakage to your trekking poles.
Adjust to the Proper Length
What is the proper length? Simple! Extend them out until your arm creates a 90-degree angle while holding the grips. Too short and you will have a hurt back from hunching over and too tall could cause you to become unsteady and trip. So, make sure you adjust them to the correct height. Look at the numbers in the window and remember them for future reference.
Also, most poles are in three sections, the section with the tip should be extended the longest as this will allow you to shorten or lengthen the middle section with ease as the terrain changes. However, refrain from extending any section all the way as it creates weak points which can break your pole.
Tip: to get a rough estimate of what number to put each section of your poles on, take your height in cm and multiply by .68
Use the Straps Correctly
This is one of the most common mistakes when using trekking poles other than not using the straps at all.
Purpose. The main purpose of the straps is to transfer the weight from your hands to your wrists preventing your hands from becoming fatigued. They also leash the pole to you so you don’t drop them (which is a pain in the arse when you’re trying to pick them up with a fully loaded pack).
How to use them. You will want to make sure you are using the straps correctly by coming up from under the strap and then gripping the pole handle. The strap should cradle the crook of your hand with a single flat piece on the back of your hand near your wrist (see picture below). Also, keep in mind that many straps are right and left specific (meaning the poles are right and left specific).
Once you have ahold of the pole handle, with the strap around your hand, adjust the strap so it snugly holds your hands in place. If it hurts, you can’t easily remove your hand or cuts off circulation then it’s too tight and will need to be loosened.
Adjust the Length as You Go Up or Down
If you are going uphill, you will need to shorten your poles; if you are going downhill you will need to lengthen them. This is important to keep proper form and help avoid the risk of injury. The general rule of thumb is 5-10 cm shorter or longer.
This is something I am horrible about not doing unless it is on long stretches of uphills or downhills.
Use the Correct Tip
Some trekking poles come with numerous tips and baskets while others will require that you purchase them separately. For the most part, you will use the standard carbide tip with no basket or carbide tip with the mud basket. However, certain conditions (like snow) may require you to add on the snow baskets. Hiking in mud, then add the mud basket. Hiking on slippery terrain, add on the rubber tips.
Do You Use Trekking Poles Correctly?
Comment below and let me know if you learned something new or if you have any tips.
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