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My Unorthodox Trekking Pole Technique

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
Personally, no.

In the same way that I’ve never understood how anyone can walk efficiently and evenly with one pole, I don’t understand why you would not choose to move your arms in the same cadence as your legs.

Both of the above might just indicate that I simply don’t understand; not that anyone’s personal preference isn’t OK. Each to their own.
 

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
Personally, no.

In the same way that I’ve never understood how anyone can walk efficiently and evenly with one pole, I don’t understand why you would not choose to move your arms in the same cadence as your legs.

Both of the above might just indicate that I simply don’t understand; not that anyone’s personal preference isn’t OK. Each to their own.
It wasn't really a choice, it just happened.

It's kind of like walking up stairs with a railing on one side. When you grab the railing and pull your self up, you don't really do in rhythm with your legs. You just reach up and pull and when you go past your hand you reach up again.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
So, are you just seeking reassurance or considering changing (possibly improving - I’m not a biomechanics expert, I was an economist) the way you use your poles?
 
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I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me.
I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.
Does anyone else use the poles like this?
I use two poles in a similar way, though with more arm movement, on flat terrain. Works great for me. The technique changes somewhat on ascents and descents. I also tend to keep more of a relaxed grip on the handles.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
To some degree, it probably depends on what you are trying to accomplish with the poles. If you need/want to take weight off your knees, the technique described by @Viva Terlingua doesn't seem likely to be as effective. If you are just trying to achieve a rhythm and occasional balance correction, it could be fine.

Without my backpack as an encumbrance on my hips (as on the Camino), I walk a bit faster. Occasionally I take a pole when walking at home, but find that the pace of planting the pole firmly with every step doesn't work well. It is more comfortable to use only one pole and plant it every second step. Every 50-100 m I switch hands. At home I carry the pole only for the practice, for the upper body stretch, and for possible need if I encounter snow or ice.
 

Sirage

Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago (2005), Porto to Santiago (2007), Vezelay for 200 kms (2009), From Seville, May (2015), Le Puy to Sangüesa (2016), Norte-Primitivo (Sep-Oct 2016)
I know I'm unique, just wondering how unique I am.
Join the club of "unique", where every club has only one member. We could get into knots of set theory.

For many years I have used PacerPoles and follow fairly closely to their walking style. It has served me well, with many benefits of using walking poles for nearly every step. PacerPole style - a good natural rhythm all day everyday.

One way to lose weight on a walk, a long walk, is not to use walking poles and let your upper body atrophy - not recommended - but I digress.
 
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Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
I just found a video that shows what I mean.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I just found a video that shows what I mean.

I use poles every step of the way. 2 poles.

The video is an interesting technique.
Though I don't really see any point in it or benefit, other than improved balance and maybe posture.
If that is all you seek, fine.

There is no real downward pressure being applied through the poles.
Which is not really feasible anyway as the pole tips are out in front of the body.
It would provide a breaking effect if pressure were applied.

IMHO, the real benefit of pole use comes from the deliberate downward pressure applied, which I have measured at about 10 kgs. This produces the 'equal and opposite' reaction, in that I gain additional forward and upward momentum. This improves posture and balance sure, but the key benefits are that it takes weight off the leg joints and improves forward momentum.

..
 
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MaryjaneDW

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (1979) (1986), Sanabrés (2013, 2016, 2018)
I have walked multiple caminos but only ever use one staff (it’s not a pole). It is about 5 feet, and has a wide leather thong attached at the top. It’s super useful for balance, sure steps when hopping across muddy patches, vaulting across streams, and measuring mud or water depth. I carry it in either hand, switching often, taking 2 steps to one placement as the original poster described. When I don’t want to place it, I carry it parallel to the ground and it serves as a metronome, helping me to keep an even pace.
I can’t even imagine messing w 2 metal poles.
 
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Reidun Fyno

I'm a beliver :-)
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2014)
Camino de Assisi (2015)
Camino Frances from Villafranca del Bierzo (2017)
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
I prefer to walk without poles. I did invest i poles in JPP since everybody told me how necessary they are. But I was lucky enough to forget them one day, and that improved my walking a lot. Later I bought a stick and that might be my choice again.
 
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
n the same way that I’ve never understood how anyone can walk efficiently and evenly with one pole, I don’t understand why you would not choose to move your arms in the same cadence as your legs.
Balance. We use one pole only because we are only interested in having something when we may need a bit of help with balance.

Now I don't often post links to YouTube but this one shows a technique I had not seen before. It requires a good physical condition and a bit of getting used to. I understand that it's not a modern thing but a revival of a traditional technique. Might be useful in a few (very few) areas of the CF. For those who use a proper traditional pilgrim staff. ☺️

 
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Cindy McGuire

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Starting from St.jean Pied de Port April 24, 2016
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
My husband does.
 

DyanTX

DyanTX
Past OR future Camino
CF Sept 22 - Nov 3, 2016
I don't see this as unique. It is precisely the way I've used my poles for 20+ years of wilderness backpacking - on the flat trails with a lightweight backpack. I also find the motion quite natural and enables the gentle hand on the handgrip rather than a death grip. When I've tried to move the poles with each step as shown in some videos - it tires me out! LOL This does change a bit when going uphill, especially with a heavy pack. I may put both poles out in front to help pull me up the hill. When going down a steep hill, I will generally put both poles out ahead to brace. Never use only 1 pole. The only time I've ever fallen was when using only 1 pole. Mountain goats have 4 legs - not 3!
 
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koknesis

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2014
CA&CS 2015
VdlP 2017
CP 2018
CM 2019
Balance…. For those who use a proper traditional pilgrim staff. ☺️
Indeed, people have walked with a staff for ages and involvement of upper limbs have additional benefit of relieving the stress from the lower ones. Confirmed. 😎
 

Walton

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
This is an excellent thread and interesting thread.

We use Pacer poles because their different hand grip design allows the user to transfer weight from the knees to the arms going up hill, brake when going downhill and you can also propel yourself forwards walking on flat.

Thus far we have a mere 1500 kms walking using Pacers. They have been fantastic for my knees and give an excellent upper body workout along the way too.

We wouldn't walk without them but having said that, we have never used the traditional pole so I can't be objective saying which type of pole is best.

Pacer Pole Video

I often see people walking with poles that haven't been well adjusted length wise for efficient use. Using them involves walking technique and setup knowhow.

Get the setup right and the technique right and you'll be a happy walker.

Cheers

Graham
 

Excursionista

happiest when walking
Past OR future Camino
De VdBierzo (2004)
Pamplona-Sahagún (2021)
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
I do this on rocky ground or when walking downhill, basically whenever I'm not taking full-length strides. Like you, it isn't intentional but what feels must comfortable in those situations. However, I find the 1:1 ratio more natural when cruising along on even ground or hauling myself uphill.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Now I don't often post links to YouTube but this one shows a technique I had not seen before. It requires a good physical condition and a bit of getting used to. I understand that it's not a modern thing but a revival of a traditional technique. Might be useful in a few (very few) areas of the CF. For those who use a proper traditional pilgrim staff. ☺️
Another traditional method of walking with poles that keeps hands, poles and feet in sync:
el-camino-on-stilts-01.jpeg
 
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Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?

I haven't used poles like that before but will certainly give it a try.

Thank you for the idea.
 

2ndCaminho

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
it is sort of like the nordic walking technique where the main gain is from when the poles are behind you. in nordic walking you dont even need to 'grip' the poles, just rest your hands there are the weight is more taken into the glovey things.
and yes i sometimes flick my wrists to whip the poles ahead.
 

AlpacaArte

New Member
Past OR future Camino
St James “2020”
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
Does anyone else use the poles like this?
Yes. It is what is most comfortable for me.
 

HADeWet

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Primitivo September 2018
Santiago to Muxia and Finisterre September 2018.
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
Yes, I always walk like this, exactly the way you describe it. Gives a lovely rhythm to my walking and one is inclined to take longer steps. Nice to open the chest muscles as well with the swing to the back. I vary the length of my poles often, depending on whether I go up- or downhill. Shorter for up, longer for down. On steep inclines I would put both poles in front at the same time and use my arms to help pull me up. Really saves the legs a lot.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
Does anyone else use the poles like this?

Yes!

I know I'm unique, just wondering how unique I am. :)

You’re not! 😉
Seems there are quite a few of us 🙂


I find that rhythm more efficient, too.
And the wrist action with a relaxed grip
But I do push, sometimes.

It really is, for me too.
It feels more functional somehow - relaxed grip, pushing sometimes, sort of ‘as and when’ …

I’ve wondered whether it’s more of a Nordic technique, but never really bothered to investigate it.
It works for me, opens my chest, provides a satisfying acceleration, and feels ‘right’.

And, VN, as you say:

It's just what works for me (and there's less annoying taktaktak 😂).

😉
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I find that rhythm more efficient, too.
And the wrist action with a relaxed grip
But I do push, sometimes.
It's just what works for me (and there's less annoying taktaktak 😂).
I do this as well, when the surface is flat but not when I feel fatigued.
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019 CF
First: I am no expert. So take what i say with a grain of doubt.

Personally, the way @Viva Terlingua describes the technique and is shown in the video in Post #11 seems wrong to me.
If I would place my poles that way, i might gain some stability and maybe even get some load diverted from the legs to the arms and shoulders. Thats a good thing

Now comes the but: Projection of force is not that difficult to understand. If i want to brake, i push something away. If i want to accelerate, i push me away from something.
Now if i place my poles in front of me, that leads to me pushing something away, which means breaking. Period. Then i make a "swing", till the pole is behind me, and push me away. So bottom line, you are wasting energy, which is something scarce when walking a camino.

On the upside: About half the people i seen using poles on the camino have been doing it that way :)
(so sorry, you are not unique)

A very good video that helped me to get my technique correct was this one:

A little less serious video is this one:

edit: There is one situation when i place the tips of my poles in front of my feet. When walking downwards a hill. Thats the single situation when wasting energy is a good thing.
 

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
Now comes the but: Projection of force is not that difficult to understand. If i want to brake, i push something away. If i want to accelerate, i push me away from something.
Now if i place my poles in front of me, that leads to me pushing something away, which means breaking. Period. Then i make a "swing", till the pole is behind me, and push me away. So bottom line, you are wasting energy, which is something scarce when walking a camino.
I don't perceive it as braking at all. After placing the tip of the pole ahead of me, I allow the handle to rotate forward past vertical where I can then push backwards if I wish.
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 15' Portuguese 16' GR10/Norte/Primitivo 17' Chemin LePuy 18' Salvador/Prim/Kerry Way 19'
I size and use them similar to how I would use (flats and uphill) XC ski poles in diagonal stride. Helps a bit with propulsion, gives a little upper body exercise. I try not to get overly dependent on them for balance. Ironically, the worst fall I've ever had in the backcountry, that freaked the EMT I was with out, was using poles. I was moving fast and got a little sloppy on my foot and pole placement and stepped on a piece of 12" diameter rotted wood used in trail making on the downhill side of the trail and fell head over heals down a very steep embankment. I was face down spread eagle the whole time, never had time to roll because I would have likely rolled into big garbage can size boulders with my back. When I finally came to a stop by digging in with my toes, my head was about a foot away from the the nearest boulder and about 10 feet below trail grade. All this from someone who has prided himself on athleticism, agility and reflexes. So much for pride, hah.

I don't hike that fast anymore and even when I take poles I will always start off without them to establish my rhythm and balance with out them. I also try to take periodic breaks from them during use during the day for the same reason. Truth be told even at home I rarely use them anymore unless it's a long hike with a lot of elevation.
 
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Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
Okay, I walked 7 miles yesterday with Pacer poles using the conventional technique. The Pacer poles do seem to make it easier to use proper technique. Although I was pretty comfortable with the technique after 7 miles, I can't say I preferred it. I think I will try again using regular poles. That way if I get comfortable doing it with the regular poles, I can switch back and forth between the 2 styles of poling.

A couple of observations. It seems that with the poles always angled forward, the wear on the rubber tips will be accelerated. (Yes, I realize you can rotate the tips as they wear). Also on smooth surfaces or surfaces with loose gravel or debris, the poles had a tendency to slip as I pushed back on them.
 

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I walked 6 miles today alternating between my technique and the conventional technique. I'll have to admit, I became a lot more comfortable with the conventional technique. However, whenever I was off road I reverted to my technique and think I discovered how I got started using my technique. I started using trekking poles for hiking. When hiking on rough terrain you have to look where you're going to place your poles nd have take the spots that nature gives you. So, I would be placing my poles wherever I could and my feet would go where was best for them, pretty much independent of each other. This just carried over into my pole usage on smooth ground.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
@Anhalter

That second video bothers me, in that there is no ’instruction’ to shorten and lengthen poles according to the terrain.
I would also get sore/tired hands if I “gripped” my poles. I use a very relaxed grip.
To be honest, I haven’t viewed any of the other videos.

I’ve had my Lekis for more than 30 years and have always used them in the same way.
I get great propulsion, particularly uphill. 😉
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
there is no ’instruction’ to shorten and lengthen poles according to the terrain.
Some poles (including mine) cannot be shortened and lengthened. For these, one must grip a little lower or high (as shown on that video) , while going uphill or downhill. I am very happy with this technique.
 
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cbacino

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
I also take two step with each pole plant except for steep pitches. Don’t see how or why people plant a pole with each step. The rest of your techniques, no.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I seriously had no idea there were poles that were non-adjustable in length!!
Yes. You buy them in the appropriate length - they come in different lengths in 5 cm (2inch) increments, for example here.

When going up or down slopes, or on uneven terrain, the feet (and hands on the poles, and in fact the whole body) need to make many automatic adjustments for height and placement, so I don't think further precision in pole length is needed. I also like the relief/variety I get from varying my hand position on the poles - just like varying the arm rhythm. Of course the variation in position and rhythm can be done with any poles.
 
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chinacat

Veteran Member
Yes. You buy them in the appropriate length - they come in different lengths in 5 cm (2inch) increments, for example here.

When going up or down slopes, or on uneven terrain, the feet (and hands on the poles, and in fact the whole body) need to make many automatic adjustments for height and placement, so I don't think further precision in pole length is needed. I also like the relief/variety I get from varying my hand position on the poles - just like varying the arm rhythm.

Each to their own 😉

I think I vary my arm rhythm too … I’m very non-metronomic.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I'm a one pole kind'a gal. I like stopping to take lots of pictures and using two poles gets in my way and is more of a nuisance rather than a help. I'm not walking lopsided yet, so I guess "all is well."

EDIT, I bring both poles and sometimes loan out the other one. I also do not use the straps.
 
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Terrri

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
May/June 2013
September/October 2016
September/October 2019
As with everything, there isn't a one-size-fits-all usage for hiking poles.

The first time over the Pyrenees I just picked up a stick when I needed one and that was mostly for balance while navigating mud. The second time I had poles but had the straps around my wrist when I hit an uneven patch of broken pavement coming down the other side and tripped over one of my poles. Because they were around my wrist my instinct to let go was of no use as I continued to trip and somersault forward, cutting my knee and bumping the top of my head in the process. Makes for a good story of how I got the scar when I "fell while hiking over the Pyrenees" - as long as I leave out the tripping over my poles part.

Now I use poles, but no straps. I also adjust my grip on the poles a lot while walking because I am rarely on flat terrain and the rocks and roots get in the way and a lot of the paths are narrow. Also, if I want to look at scenery I stop walking.
 
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Viva Terlingua

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Partial Frances (2018)
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I'm a one pole kind'a gal. I like stopping to take lots of pictures and using two poles gets in my way and is more of a nuisence rather than a help. I'm not walking lopsided yet, so I guess "all is well."
I don't disagree there. I normally let them dangle from my wrists when taking a picture, but they can be annoying when I do that.
 

Karl G

Member
Past OR future Camino
August and September 2019 - Arles
I've been using trekking poles for years but use them differently than recommended. I swing the pole out in front of me when placing it so that the pole is angled away from me when planted. I then walk past it and pick it up when it is behind me. This results in a number of differences from the standard technique.
  • I take 2 steps instead of one for every cycle of the pole.
  • My arms are more at my side rather than out in front of me.
  • Swinging the pole forward is more of a wrist movement rather than a whole arm movement.
  • I use the poles at a shorter length so that they are at comfortable height in my hand as I walk past the pole.
  • I don't really push on the pole to propel myself forward. It's more like I'm resting the weight of my arm on it which takes that weight off my legs.
It's not something I ever made a conscious decision to do. It's just how I started using the poles when I began 15 years ago. It wasn't until the advent of Youtube that I found out I was doing it wrong. When I try doing it the standard way, it just seems like way more work to me. My way seems much more relaxed to me. I use the straps the proper way and have a very relaxed grip on the handles, in fact I don't really grip the handles at all.

Does anyone else use the poles like this?
Without breaking out the poles I don’t know about the 2 steps but I definitely swing them forward, mostly from the wrist with some natural arm movement, arms at the side, and some minor push off. I find it allows an easy rhythm, minimizes side-to-side movement, and moves some of the load from my legs to my upper body. It works for me.

I walked with an older Frenchman one day who was a master at the “correct” technique. It clearly worked well for him. I tried replicating it at various times throughout my journey but never found it natural and it didn’t seem to offer enough benefit to me to make adopting it worthwhile.
 

frida1

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
I love my black diamond z poles, but don’t use them on terrain that isn’t steep or slippery. I can’t imagine fussing with adjustments every time I climb and descend and I don’t think I know anyone who does, except in an exceptional situation. Mine don’t adjust, but they fold small enough to put in a back pocket of day pack. I belong to a hiking community with lots of older folks. The majority use poles, some don’t.
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019 CF
@Anhalter

That second video bothers me, in that there is no ’instruction’ to shorten and lengthen poles according to the terrain.
I would also get sore/tired hands if I “gripped” my poles. I use a very relaxed grip.
To be honest, I haven’t viewed any of the other videos.

I’ve had my Lekis for more than 30 years and have always used them in the same way.
I get great propulsion, particularly uphill. 😉
just seen your answer. Yeah, the second video just features using poles on flat ground. I agree that it can be a help to adjust length regarding to the terrain. For me personally, i just do it now when there is a certain continuity and for shorter ascents or descents i just change my grip.
However the first video goes very much into what lenght works best in a certain scenario.
 
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Does anyone else use the poles like this?

Something like that, for me.

Variations I have include:
1) remove the strap as soon as I get the poles home
2) place my palm over the top of the handle (I do NOT grip the handle)
3) swing the pole with a wrist movement (I do not swing my arms, just a slight movement)

I like the upright posture I get from the way I use poles.

And I have so many other uses. Here are a few:
  • form a tripod when taking photos
  • something to lean against when stopped for taking the view, chatting, whatever
  • as a prop when negotiating uneven ground forms
  • defence against unwanted intrusions (dogs, for example) by trailing them behind my ankles
  • poles for my tent
I have learnt to keep moving when, for example, I need to a handkerchief out of a side pocket.

Without missing a step I bring the poles together in front of me, tap them on the ground to ensure they are aligned, swing them under my left upper arm (a bit like a sargeant-major with pacing callipers when not in use) so both hands are free.

Kia kaha
 

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