Wrist Straps and how to use them
Hold the strap and let the pole dangle beneath it. Then place your hand up through the strap and form a large 'O' with the thumb and forefinger. Then slide it down around the handle of the pole.
When you apply downward pressure to propel yourself forwards, it is transferred not from your tight grip on the pole handle, but from the tension applied between the wrist and strap. Therefore keep in mind you may need to adjust the strap to apply the correct tension.
Thus as you get into a stride, your poles become an extension to your wrist flow, and ark beneath your hands accordingly at approximately 45 degrees making contact with the tips and transferring the energy into forward propulsion. The poles shouldn't become upright at 90 degrees when walking, as you are now effectively 'carrying' the poles, rather than transferring the weight and energy to the contact point with the ground.
When descending you simply slip your hands over the top of the pole for support and stability. The pole now will be gripped between your finger tips as it swing forward to find the next contact point. A slip, or sudden downward pressure will be taken by an upright pole and hopefully, prevent serious injury.
Because you are holding the pole with your wrist through the straps, if you slip and fall at any time, you can let go of the pole and place your out hands in front of you thus not getting finger injury.
In ascents you will probably find it best to grip the handles and use the poles to propel you forward and up. Sometimes when climbing we will push off with both poles like a cross-country skier but generally we walk or run with the poles alternating with the legs. So left pole and right leg forward. The poles should swing through almost as an extension to the arm and it doesn’t take long to feel completely at home with them.
· They can double as tent or tarp support using either a 14mm link or 16mm tube. (saving weight elsewhere)
· Hanging clothes or shoes to dry (easy with some cord and 2 pegs)
· Protection from animals
· Testing the depth of bogs or streams (vital all year round)
· Photo “mono-pod” as some have a camera attachment (see the StickPic or the Ultrapod)
· To make sure nothing is hiding under rocks or leaves (like snakes) when you sit or make camp
Personally (like the use of trail shoes) we now feel we are not completely in control of our walking if we hike without poles. In fact we are also now using them when running for an all over workout, fast ascents and much more stable and quicker descents. The saving on knee pressure is noticeable and although we have a few smiles from other runners, they tend to disappear when we leave them standing on the long climbs!
Following our Scotland trip Beth came a firm advocate of using poles. They saved her on many occasions from some hard muddy falls over slippy surfaces, enabled her to jump bogs and wide streams which much ease, and even helped keep the tent door open when cooking. She even stated on a few occasions that we were 'right', and she should have used them during her Gold DofE trip, but she wasn't prepared to put that into writing!
Part 1 - Why use walking poles