Monday, October 21, 2019

Danger on the Trail – Dogs, Horses, Poles and Etiquette

January 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Pole Tips

Yesterday a friend and I were horse-back riding in a popular riding area.  We saw a dog off leash (an absolute no-no in this area), then around the bend saw the owner walking with poles.  We called immediately to ask her to leash her dog.  Her dog came towards us growling and the horses spooked.     She called to her dog who did not come to her.  She ambled over to her dog and casually leashed it.    When finally she had her dog under control, we asked her to also please keep her poles steady.  She responded, “I know how to use my poles.”

Her poles were adjusted – on flat terrain – up to her armpits.   I rest my case.

Trekking Poles FAQ: Are Hiking Poles for Everyone?

No, but… Using poles provides many benefits for people who like to walk or hike.  Optimal use of poles encourages better posture, endurance, confidence and gaitUsing the upper body muscles helps to preserve joints all over the body.

In the literally thousands of people I’ve encountered over the last 15 years, I’ve met a handful that really were not pole people.  One lady was so uncoordinated, that she was terrified.  It was a bad fit.   People that have progressed to a walker often can no longer benefit.   A hiking buddy of mine (who loves to talk) trips on poles when he uses them.  Best for him to not have poles.

Sometimes people have to ease into learning new skills like using poles – or any new thing (think orthotics).   Here’s a very recent example:  One lady was given this prescription:  Use your new poles for only three to five minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.  Consistency/Frequency with very low intensity & duration.   She then went out for an hour with a friend and overdid it.  She damaged her fragile shoulder and hated her poles.   She admitted she was out too long, was distracted and did not focus on her form.   She called her poles “toxic.”   I silently shook my head in frustration at her admitted and blatant violation of her body.  She blamed the poles even while admitting her ridiculous and (as it turned out) dangerous behavior.   Rather than gently and progressively lubricating the shoulder joint and slowly building muscles that support the shoulder, she ended up back at the doctor’s office in severe pain.

Poles COULD have helped her in many ways, but she did not listen to either her body or her trainer.   Regular readers of this blog know that I like to focus on the positive.  So I end this post with happier thoughts.

“To be interested in the changing seasons
is a happier state of mind
than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  ~ George Santayana

“Giving people self-confidence
is by far the most important thing that I can do.
Because then they will act.”  ~ Jack Welch

Trekking Poles Tip: How to turn up your POWER

HIKERS:  Try snugging up your straps. Yes, it’s that simple.  If you use the straps correctly and your body optimally, the poles are an extension of your arms.   It’s easier to feel the PUSH of the poles on flat and uphill if you’re using them in a pushing action.  This sounds simplistic, but try tightening your straps the next time you want to really MOVE and see how it feels.

This extra POWER  presumes you’re using poles optimally and also using gloves.  We like simple bike gloves – no Velcro and finger pockets for easy removal.  They can significantly improve your performance,  reduce hand strain and protect your hands on the trail.

Notice the distinction we make between correctly and optimally.  This is very important and deliberate.  EveryBODY is different and it’s important to LISTEN to your body.  Make accommodation where and when you need to.

  • Optimal use of poles means you’re getting the most benefit for your body based on your goals.  Your goals usually depend on your issues and the terrain.
  • Correct use means you know the basics.  For example, how many times have you seen people hiking with their travel tips on or hauling themselves uphill?  Or using straps in a way that facilitates what we call “The Death Grip?”

The list of non-optimal things we see on the trail goes on and on. I like to focus on good form and I enjoy when people want to learn and understand that, by learning, they get better exercise, improve their performance and their enjoyment of the outdoors.

Trekking Poles: Travel Tips

June 20, 2011 by  
Filed under DVD Updates, Gear, Pole Tips, Poles, Travel

Question from the Facebook PoleWalking page:

“In mid-October I am going to northern Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago and would like to get information on air travel with poles and any other info about this walk and the weather you may have.”  Margy S.

I’ll address the travel with poles question and hope fellow AdventureBuddy  Lee Sandstead might address the other questions as I believe he’s there right now.

POLES in carry on: Good Question.  Far be it for me to predict what current airline policies are.

Carrying your poles onto the plane:  Another quagmire.  If you look like you NEED them, then maybe.  But only if you have your rubber tips on.

POLES in checked baggage: Absolutely!

  • Make sure you know how to easily take apart and put together your poles  (you might not believe the number of people who have trouble with this).
  • Take them apart for travel if they do not easily fit into your luggage.
  • Secure expanders if they are the removable kind.
  • Put a rubber band around all sections
  • Put all sections in a pillow case.  Lose one section and you’re sunk (yes, this happened to a buddy in a remote section of China, yikes!).
  • Rubber tips are considered an accessory.  I consider them an essential part of your poles.  Use them instead of travel tips.
  • Make sure your rubber tips are securely affixed.  We like LEKI tips for the models of poles that we recommend.

As I like to convey in my Yoga classes – enjoy the journey as well as the destination.  Happy Travels!

New Facebook Page for people who love to walk and hike with poles

I just created a new Facebook Page for people to use as a FORUM for asking questions, discussing how poles enhance their outdoor experiences and help them achieve their goals.

Please check it out and click the LIKE button to enjoy:  FaceBook Page for Pole Walkers

POLES FAQ: Can I become dependent on using poles? Yes

When using poles, do we lose some ability to use balance muscles?  Do we become dependent on them?

We believe it IS possible to become reliant on your poles.  They are helpful in so many ways for helping us enjoy the outdoors.  Is it a good idea to occasionally hike on a moderate trail without your poles?   This is a very personal decision made based on your ability, the terrain and your goals.  If you hike without your poles, we suggest:

  • Know the hike – try it first WITH your poles.
  • Plan a short journey, do less than you think you can the first few times you hike without your poles.
  • Be consistent.  Hike without poles occasionally but regularly to keep up your skills.

Cross Training: Understand that, by hiking without your poles, you’re giving up the upper body workout.  For instance, we might do a relatively easy hike without poles the day after we go sea kayaking or an upper body weight training class or session.

Hiking without your poles may give you a better sense of proprioception (where am I in space?), can  improve edging*,  and can enable you to be more aware of your feet and legs.   Hiking on uneven terrain can challenge, enhance and improve your agility and balance muscles.  You will use muscles differently than when you are hiking with poles.  Exercising in different ways is important for achieving YOUR optimal fitness.

When do WE use our poles?

  • When we know we need them
  • When we have no idea what we’re getting into.
  • When we want the total body experience
  • When hiking with someone stronger or faster (poles give us an “edge”)

* stay tuned for a spiffy post dedicated to Edging – an essential skill for all hikers and walkers 🙂

Trekking Pole Troubles: Taking poles apart for Travel and/or cleaning

Our prior post covered the two most common problems people have with poles.  We covered in detail troubleshooting poles (fixing them if they fail to tighten).  The other big problem people seem to have is  trouble taking their poles apart.
Our best advice:  Get over it! 🙂

  • People purchase poles based on their collapsed length.   While this can make sense, it often can mean getting non-optimal poles for your height, weight, goals & issues.  Taking poles apart almost always means they will fit into luggage.
  • Poles MUST be taken apart for cleaning.  Take good care of your poles and they will take care of you – please!
  • Poles MUST be taken apart if they get wet.  This is basic pole care 101.  Go hike in the rain – Yippee!   Ford a stream.  Use poles in the fog.  But, when your poles get wet, the inside of the shaft gets wet and just drying them off on the outside isn’t enough.  The pole shaft can corrode.  The fix is simple!  Take your poles apart and let them dry apart over night.  Voila!  Clean, dry, usuable poles.

I have a deep connection with my poles.  They’re 9 years old, they’re PERFECT and they’re my buddies!    I use them, I abuse them, AND I keep them clean and dry.  A good pair of poles often has a lifetime warranty and good poles (that fit your body, issues and goals) should last you a lifetime of hiking and exploring!

Happy Trails!

Trekking Pole Troubles: How to fix poles that don’t tighten

The 2 most common problems people have with their poles are:

  1. “I’m unable (or afraid) to take my poles apart.”
  2. “My poles won’t tighten.”

This post deals with #2.

There are different kinds of mechanisms that hold the poles together and tight.    ALL are a SIMPLE FIX if you know how.  Many poles come with instructions.  Please learn how BEFORE you head out on your hike 🙂

LEKI SpeedLock: Turn the round, clear dial with your finger or a dime to tighten.

LEKI Twist Style Poles: 2 types – single expander and double expander.  Both can fail if you over-loosen the poles.  If that happens, the section will twist and not tighten.  Easy (but different) fixes:

  • Single (Standard) expander (usually orange):  push the section that won’t tighten all the way in.   Push and twist at the same time – many times – until the expander “catches.”  Then adjust as usual.
  • Double expander (Super Lock system): A little trickier, but also easy when you know how.  This fix can be done with the poles apart or even where the expander meets the sleeve.   Here’s a  fix it from LEKI that shows how to do this fix.

Black Diamond FlickLock: Use a Phillips screwdriver to tighten just enough to hold, but not so tight it’s difficult to use.  Since all our adjusting on the trail is in the middle section, tighten the bottom tighter for your BASELINE length.   Finesse so that  the middle (adjusting) section is tight enough to hold on steep downhill, but loose enough to easily adjust.    Note:  when closing the FlickLock,  make sure it’s completely closed.   People often leave it just a little open.  This mechanism is either open or closed.  Not completely closed is OPEN.

Bottom Line: Before you leave the store with your new poles, learn TWO things:

  • How to take apart and put your poles together.
  • How to troubleshoot your poles (how to fix them if they fail to tighten).

Everything else you need to know is on the video.  We also show good technique and etiquette for taking poles apart and putting them together on the video.

More info on poles.

Addendum:  Here’s a YouTube post that shows fixing the LEKI expander.

My comment on this post: Nicely done! Failure to tighten is a problem!

It’s the Orange “rocket” that’s the culprit. When people over-LOOSEN the poles, the rocket gets STUCK on the bottom of the screw. What you’re doing by capturing the blue expander at the sleeve is affixing the blue so you can move the orange piece up the screw just a bit to release it. Knowing this is ESSENTIAL.

Please PRACTICE this! When it’s EASY, it’s right. Don’t force it.

Trekking Poles Etiquette: Tips for not stabbing your buddies

September 12, 2010 by  
Filed under DVD Updates, Gear, Pole Tips, Poles, Poles for Hiking

Some people shun pole users.  Why?  I’ve heard people say they get stabbed or impaled on the trail.  Such an experience would sour anyone.  I teach pole etiquette as part of my seminars.  Here are some tips:

  • Keep a safe distance between hikers.
  • If someone is crowding you, step aside and let them pass.
  • On steep uphill, poles can slip.  Hikers too close could lose an eye.
  • On steep downhill, allow extra space both in front and in back.
  • If someone is reaching forward (not good technique) a pole tip could jab your Achilles tendon.  This is a nasty injury.  Just step aside and the unaware pole user pass.
  • People carrying (not using) poles should know where their tips are.  Usually they can turn their tips forward to avoid stabbing someone.
  • People walking with pole tips behind them can stop suddenly.  The hiker behind can walk into the sharp tips.
  • People who lay their poles on the ground in the middle of the trail do not realize their poles can be stepped on and broken.
  • If you stop to adjust your poles on the trail, try not to have your tips facing the middle of the trail.
  • When taking poles apart, point tips down – not at your buddies or car windows.
  • Carry your rubber tips with you at all times.  If you encounter pavement, using rubber tips will save your trail tips and be way less noisy.  Noisy poles can be very annoying.
  • If you hike with poles and are stabbing the ground, this noise can also annoy people.
  • At lunch stops, prop your poles out of the way.
  • Do not lay your poles in the dirt.  If the straps get dirty, that dirt can chafe your hands.

Bottom line: I can choose who I hike with and avoid unsafe behavior.

  • Pole users: please be aware and considerate!
  • Victims of bad etiquette on the trail:  Rather than shunning all pole users, let’s educate people – send them a link to this post :).   Maybe if people knew how close they come to injuring their buddies, they would modify their form?

Let’s enjoy, let’s protect & let’s share our precious planetary resource with the future.  Any ideas on how to communicate pole etiquette concerns so that we’re all able to enjoy the glorious outdoors – with and without poles?

LEKI Poles: How to adjust & use straps

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use and adjust LEKI pole straps:

My friend Pierre and I filmed a quick little (translation – low quality but technically accurate) video in the garden the other day.  Often people ask about pole straps – it’s an essential element to using poles optimally.

Note:  LEKI poles have right and left straps.  It’s more comfortable when your R hand is in the R strap and visa versa.

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