Whole Body Fitness & Health
There is no such thing as CORRECT use of poles. Every one is different and we all have different abilities and goals. Therefore, we define OPTIMAL USE as achieving the benefits we want (and we want them ALL) without incurring stress or strain in the hands, wrists, elbows or shoulders. Tension in the hands with non-optimal use can travel all the way up to your neck.
Find poles that fit you well, that you love and then use them for the journey of a lifetime, for your favorite hike or walk, or just out your front door for some great whole-body exercise.
In this section we discuss the elements that make up hiking poles, trekking poles and walking poles. Finding poles you LOVE - that fit you well - will help you achieve your goals. Pole Fitting is an art.
We'll start at the top.
Grips come in different shapes, sizes and materials. They are one of the most important features of pole comfort.
Feel the grip in your hand. Compare different models to see what fits and feels best - what resonates for you?
Grip fit and comfort depend on material, size and shape.
Plastic: Least expensive, uncomfortable and can be slippery when wet.
Rubber: Some new rubbers are comfortable, especially when you use gloves. Exerstrider rubber grips are textured in a subtle way that provide a comfortable “touch”. You can get a "sock" accessory that makes them softer.
Cork: Absorbent & more comfortable than rubber or plastic.
Foam: Comfortable and durable. Our favorite.
Grips vary in size. Hold the grip and see what best fits your hand. Too small feels uncomfortable. Too large can cause hand fatigue.
Grip Option on Trekking Poles: Long Foam Grip
On some models, foam extends down the top section from the grip. We show how to use it to improve performance on both DVD's. This feature can be useful for mobility as well as for hikers (Grand Canyon practice segment on hiking DVD).
Long foam grips improve performance and stability on terrain like rocky desert canyons, stream crossings or frequently changing terrain when we don't want to use the straps.
Grip shapes vary. Trekking poles can be straight or canted (slanted) at an angle of either 10 or 15 degrees.
Exerstrider's flared grip is designed for comfort without the use of straps.
For hikers, the positive/slanted angle of trekking poles allows the hand and wrist to be in a more neutral position which adds to comfort. We recommend trekking pole models with canted grips. This is especially important if you have any hand, wrist or shoulder issues.
Trekking Poles, Hiking Poles have straps. Again, it's all about your COMFORT.
Exerstrider Walking Poles do not have straps.
Straps vary in size, type and adjustability.
Use: See DVD for proper use of the strap. Correct use is essential for avoiding stress or tension in hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders – even your neck.
Fit: Check to make sure the strap fits your hand. As you progress, a relatively snug fit can improve performance. If the strap is too big, try gloves (see DVD) or another model of poles.
Adjusting: Make sure you can EASILY adjust the strap of the pole to fit your hand. (check the directions that come with your poles). Some models have right & left straps which adds to comfort.
Strapless option: This is an excellent starting point for people with mobility challenges.
Buckle straps: Straps that have a buckle are generally found on less expensive models. They're uncomfortable and do not provide optimal performance.
Note: Do not order one piece poles.
Adjustability is an important aspect of learning & progressing.
See either DVD to learn how adjustabilty helps you achieve optimal use on a variety of terrain.
Models adjust differently - read the instructions that come with your poles.
Both DVD’s detail how to adjust your poles for your height, your use and your concerns. Adjusting pole length is an important aspect of using your poles optimally and achieving the many benefits.
Twist style: There are several styles of twist poles. These poles have an expander that opens as you twist to the R and loosens as you twist the section to the L. It's important to read the directions that come with your poles so you understand the best way to adjust your poles.
SpeedLock: LEKI poles. This system is easy, fast and intuitive. Read the instructions and adjust to suit your needs. Knob can be adjusted with your hands or straight screwdriver or even a dime. Do not overloosen the knob.
FlickLock: Black Diamond's method of adjusting. Use a phillips screwdriver to adjust. Do not overloosen. Make sure you close in the proper position/angle - do not force this mechanism. It's easy to make the mistake of not closing this mechanism completely. If it's not closed, it's OPEN.
Button: Exerstrider's Activator model is an option for people with mobility challenges. It features a spring loaded button-in-hole adjusting system like that commonly used on canes and walkers.
Baskets prevent pole tips from sinking into the ground – very useful for hiking. They’re removable and interchangeable (use the larger baskets for snow shoeing).
If using poles exclusively for mobility and balance, you'll probably not need baskets.
See either DVD for detailed pole care. Take good care of your poles and they’ll take good care of you.
Our LEKI poles are 12 years old and in perfect condition.
Enjoy this short tutorial video which discusses some of the many benefits of walking with poles for exercise: