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February 2016 Issue
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Get maximum benefit from your walking poles

Walking poles can massively reduce the strain on your legs, so long as they’re used correctly. Here’s how to get it right. Flat out On easy terrain, poles help increase stride and speed. When planting your poles, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle (or thereabouts), and the pole should land with the top pointing backwards. This should be comfortable and provide the leverage to maintain momentum. Ups and downs 2 When the terrain gets trickier, your poles are more for balance than speed. They should land more upright than on the flat, acting as your third and fourth legs. On ascents, shorten the poles, and on descents lengthen the poles, so your elbows are still at a 90-degree angle, or whatever feels most comfortable for you to push off from. Some poles have an extended grip, so rather than shorten the pole on ascents, simply adjust your grip. Get a grip 1 When used correctly, the strap gives good control over the pole without you needing to grip too tightly. Adjust the size of the loop so you can put your hand through it. Pass your hand through the loop from below. Then grip the strap and handle together.