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How to use your walking poles

Updated: Oct 18, 2019


The key benefits to using poles are:

Support and stability on uneven ground, especially with a backpack which may cause in-balance.

Reduced effort as the burden of weight is spread and focused less on the knee and hip joints and muscles.

Reduced possibility of strain injury as the pole encourage good posture.


The strap on the pole handle is there to allow you to place your weight onto the pole without having to grip it firmly. Put your hand upwards through the strap loop and bring it back down, grasping the pole and the strap as it attaches to the pole. This way the weight of your hand naturally tightens the strap around your wrist and pulls your hand in close to the pole, with little grip required to keep it in place. By using the strap to support your hand you're then transferring weight onto your arms and upper body which would otherwise be carried by the legs and knees.


On flat ground, your elbow should now be at 90 degrees and forearm parallel to the ground. Note length position on your poles for future reference, for most people this will be between 115cm and 125cm.


When walking over normal trekking terrain trekking poles can really add to your stride length and walking pace. The key is to plant your poles at an angle pointing behind you, so that you are driving yourself forward with each step. It is important to flex and extend from your shoulder joint during this action and not just from your elbows.

When negotiating very uneven or steep terrain, you are more likely to need support from your hiking poles rather than propulsion. Here the poles are best used in an upright position and used like a mobile handrail, allowing a safer and more rapid descent. Initially poles feel alien to use, but very quickly they feel like a welcome extension of your arms, and you’ll soon venture into areas where the ground becomes steep, rocky and complicated whilst sDll using your poles. Beware! Poles are useful but they don’t grip rock well and can become an unwelcome hazard.

If your hands are still in the loops the poles may well stop you reaching for that vital handhold causing a fall. So on technical ground (boulder fields, river crossings, etc) take your hands out of the tape loops so that the poles can be discarded in the event of a slip or fall

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