Learn How To Use Trekking Poles Like A Champ!

Learn How To Use Trekking Poles Like A Champ!

If you’ve read our article about the health benefits of Nordic walking (you really should!) and you’ve purchased your first set of trekking poles, you are going to need to know how to use trekking poles the right way so you can maximize those benefits.

In this guide, we want to explain how to use trekking poles correctly, but also tips, techniques, and other useful information.

How To Use Trekking Poles Like A Champ

A trekking pole is not the typical walking stick you might find in the woods. The best trekking poles will be ones that will correlate to your fitness level, height, weight, and your patience for locking the poles when you experience a change in terrain. The pole you choose should make your hike (or walk) easier, more enjoyable, and of course, beneficial!

Nordic Walking Isn't Requires Technique

There are some things you need to do first before you can actually start using your poles:

Adjust Pole Length

The very first thing you will need to do when you get your poles is to adjust the length of the pole. You aren’t going to be able to use the poles properly if they aren’t long enough (or if they are too long) for you to use comfortably. To do this:

  • Place the tip of the pole at your foot and adjust the height of the pole until your elbow is at a 90 degree angle when you are holding onto the handle. You can set the pole a little shorter if you are going to be walking through plants or rocks. This will require less lifting.
  • We recommend that you adjust the top adjuster on a 3-tier pole because it will be least likely to be covered in mud or poisonous plant oil.

Use The Wrist Straps

The most common problem people have with learning how to properly use trekking poles is that they haven’t adjusted the wrist straps properly. The straps are going to help you pull yourself along without needing to grip the handle tightly.

Use your Straps

In order to use the straps, you need to put your hand up through the strap. Then rest the handle in between your thumb and your index finger. Wrap your hand around the handle.

Move Your Poles

As we walk, we naturally swing our arms—left arm swings when you step with the right foot and the right arm swings when you step with your left food. Simple, right? When you’re learning how to use trekking poles for walking, it is absolutely no different.

You’ll want to plant the pole ahead of you when you are stepping. Develop some kind of rhythm while planting the poles, and be sure to use some force too. This will help propel you forward and you might even see that you can hike or walk for much further! There are three movement patterns that can change your workout:

  • Alternate — This method is most like how you would walk normally. With each step, plant the opposite pole into the ground. This will help you maximize your balance and most often used for general hiking/walking.
  • Parallel — This method is where the pole moves with the leg. If you are stepping with the left leg, you are moving the left pole. This method is ideal for those long walks because it reduces leg fatigue and stress while out on those long hikes.
  • Double — This method is when you move both poles as you walk. This method is useful when you’re going uphill or downhill, as it can give you balance and support.

Tips To Keep In Mind When Learning How To Use Trekking Poles

Understandably, you’re going to be excited to get out there and start using your new trekking poles. Here are some great tips that will help you along the way!

  • When you’re walking downhill, position your poles in front of you slightly and activate the shock systems to reduce the impact of going downhill. Also, shorten your stride, your knee joints won’t feel as much stress from going downhill.
  • When you’re going uphill, shorten your poles a little bit. You don’t want to use the pole to pull yourself up the hill, but rather push off, so don’t plant the tip of your pole in front of the leading foot. When the tip is too far ahead, you’re going to use more energy pushing the pole down, rather than back. Keep the pole as close to the body as you can to improve efficiency.
  • Use your poles to negotiate around obstacles. The pole can be used to determine how deep water is if you are walking across a stream, it can help you walk over large obstructions like rocks and logs. The poles can even be used to help you cross a large puddle by vaulting yourself over them—or simply giving you stability while you walk around it where the perimeter may be slippery.


When you have a firm grasp on how to use trekking poles, you may find yourself excited to go on longer, more challenging hikes. Or, at least find walking in general easier to do.

90 Degree Angle of Poles

It is important that when you begin using these poles, you have the length of the pole adjusted correctly so that your elbow is at a 90 degree angle while holding the pole.

You will also want to make sure that you’re utilizing that handle strap instead of using energy and gripping the handle tightly. That strap, when used correctly, will make all the difference when you are using your poles!

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