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How to Use Trekking Poles Correctly for a Hike

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 4/7/2009

To use your trekking poles effectively on a hike to alleviate stress on your joints and to aid in balance, there are a few things you must know. Learn the important adjustments to make to get the most out of trekking poles and your body will thank you.

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    How to Use Trekking Poles

    How to Adjust Trekking Poles to Your Height

    Utilizing your trekking poles as you stride down the trail will reduce a lot of wear and tear on your body when you are handling them properly. Before you even hit the trail though, sizing the poles to suit your height and adjusting the straps to fit your wrists is imperative. The first thing to consider is adjusting the telescoping mechanism to suit your height. While standing on a flat surface you’ll want to have the poles extended so that your arm is bent at the elbow at a 90 degree angle perpendicular to your body when gripping the pole. Lock them in place there. Memorize which way you need to manipulate the poles to adjust them.Gear Room 003 

    Most poles will come in three telescoping sections so that the height can be adjusted in two different sections of the pole although two section designs are available. By turning the fasteners in one direction you can slide the underlying pole down to lengthen or shorten the overall length. Tightening in the opposite direction will secure that length for you. The three section designs are easier to compress and fit on your back pack (when you don’t want to use them) while the two section poles are quicker and easier to adjust while hiking when changing terrain conditions call for it. You must decide which you prefer.

    The Point of the Straps

    Next, strap on the wrist slings correctly because this will reduce the pain and discomfort on your wrists, hands, and forearms especially on a longer hike. When used correctly, the straps actually aid you absorbing the stress when the pole hits the ground so they’re not just meant to keep you from dropping a pole like many people think. The straps for this handy hiking gear will compensate and expedite the most efficient weight transfer each time you place the pole tip on the ground with your weight on it. What this design feature means to you is that you will be enabled to use a lighter grip which reduces your chances of getting annoying, painful blisters. And a lighter grip there radiates out to every part of your body reminding you that this whole experience is meant to be enjoyed free of stress.

    Slide your wrists into the strap loop on the outside (away from your body) of the pole for each hand. Make sure the strap goes to the Gear Room 002 wrist and then twist so that you grip the pole like you’re supposed to. The strap should now be under the palm and adjust the strap size so that when you plant the pole the strap absorbs some of the strain.

    Now that you have your trekking poles sized right, the next article will enlighten you as to how to adjust them when going up or down hills along with other great tips on maximizing your hiking ventures with these outstanding hiking aids.

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