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Trekking Poles and Forefoot Strike
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Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F

Locale: Southeast
Trekking Poles and Forefoot Strike on 01/07/2013 13:31:15 MST Print View

Two things here.

I know this has been picked through already on mutliple threads, but can someone give me a rundown of whether or not a 15* ergo grip is something worth considering? I had problems on my last hike using a friends pole with a straight grip. Going downhill, only my pointer finger and thumb were able to grip the pole when extending it forward for a downhill step...and not very tight, which translated into less weight taken off my knees.


I have a highschool cross country background that gave me some knee issues, and about a year ago I started running in minimalist shoes with a forefoot strike which has aleviated most of those issues in my knees. Is there any merit to hiking with more of a midfoot to forefoot strike to alleviate knee and hip problems? I'm sold on that style of running but just not sure how well it translates into hiking. Check out

The reason I put both of these into one topic is because I think they would relate well in asking the question, "What is the most efficient way to reduce stress on your knees and hips?" I realize preferences are huge here. And if I've overlooked an article or thread that answers the question, feel free to point me in the right direction.

Mole J
(MoleJ) - F

Locale: UK
straps? on 01/07/2013 14:24:18 MST Print View

use the straps correctly and all will be well.

the straps are an integral part of the handles and not using them limits the poles' usefulness.

also, gripping the handles/ not using the straps properly puts different strains on elbows and wrists. gripping is not good in the long run - as many manual workers will attest.

Some folk lengthen their poles a little on long steep downhill sections to give more reach. I never bother.

I used some Lekis with ergo handles (15° forward bend) for years, and found them fine, but now use BD trails, and find them no different in use.
It's like driving a different car- after a little while you get used to the feel oif the new drive.

dunno about your footstrike,

Edited by MoleJ on 01/07/2013 15:00:04 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Trekking Poles and Forefoot Strike on 01/07/2013 14:47:14 MST Print View

I am not a trekking pole advocate, so no comments on them.

However walking and running are too different activities. Most people do not naturally walk with a fore foot strike. I do walk more on my fore feet than most people, but it is not intentional. Mostly on uphills and even some down hills (depending on terrain and the weight of my pack). And I would never have known this if a couple of hiking partners had not pointed it out.

Barefoot running will "force" you to start running with a fore foot strike; it is subconscious. However it would probably take a lot of practice and concentrated training to hike with a fore foot strike, and I am not sure it would be beneficial or it might even be detrimental.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Straps on 01/07/2013 14:58:50 MST Print View

I use trekking poles extensively because of bad joints.

I have suffered from hand thumb injuries when I used to not use the straps that much and instead gripped the poles.

I no longer grip the poles as much, putting the weight on the straps and no longer have that problem.

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F

Locale: Southeast
Using Straps Correctly on 01/07/2013 15:02:19 MST Print View

Can anyone point me to a good picture/article/video of how to correctly use straps?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
One example on 01/07/2013 15:07:19 MST Print View

Mole J
(MoleJ) - F

Locale: UK
article with pics on 01/07/2013 15:10:12 MST Print View

page 2 has info you want, though the whole article is a useful overview

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Poles and foot strike on 01/07/2013 15:35:28 MST Print View

With due respect to the others, some of us find no use for the straps at all. I never use straps. My LT4 poles don't have them. I have never experienced hand strain of any sort. I could see using them with heavier poles possibly. I know other people seem to really like the straps though. I think its probably personal.

I think running with a forefoot strike is a natural response to running with unpadded or lightly padded shoes. I think doing this has really strengthened my ankles and lower leg. I don't think its generally natural to strike with the forefoot while walking. I do tend to forefoot strike, however, on downhills and uneven terrain. I think my foot feels more stable that way.

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Using Straps Correctly on 01/07/2013 15:44:56 MST Print View

Personally, I'm not a fan of the angled handles. It's probably because I'm used to using straight handled poles, and when I tried out a pair of "ergonomic" angled poles (BD Trail Ergo Cork) the poles were always angled back too far, causing skids and skips and making it harder for me to to keep my rhythm.

That said, the handle isn't all that important. Most of the work should be done with the straps. Unless I'm descending, I've usually got a very loose grip on the handle.

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F

Locale: Southeast
Straps or not? on 01/07/2013 15:55:32 MST Print View

What's the advantage to not having straps? Shaving weight?

I can see how an angled grip would cause a bad placement on level ground when you are trying to get the pole to land near your foot and it strikes behind you instead.

I recently bought a pair of BD Alpine Carbon Cork poles, but not for their weight. I realize they are beefy for carbon poles, and apparently weigh the same as BD Ergo Cork poles. They seemed like a sturdy first set of poles and they were on sale. So anyway, I'm wanting to absorb some ideas on technique so I can use these properly on my next trip.

On the side - Any reason I should return the BD Alpine's for another pole?

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Straps or not? on 01/07/2013 16:24:03 MST Print View

I tested out a pair of my friend's BD Alpines this weekend and they seemed pretty nice to me. I would keep 'em.

With regard the reason for no straps, I would just say I don't carry something I don't use. I don't care how little weight it adds.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: No Straps on 01/07/2013 16:36:29 MST Print View

For some of us, straps are required.
Anybody who puts a lot of weight on their poles will have repetitive stress problems if they don't use the straps.

But most people don't use their poles that way.
If you don't bear down on your poles, strapless shouldn't be an issue.

Mole J
(MoleJ) - F

Locale: UK
straps on 01/07/2013 17:13:40 MST Print View

it's whatever suits,

But, not using the straps, logically, limits the possibilities of the ways you could use your poles as they add another degree of movement and a more flexible range of ways of connecting with the poles. If you never have used the straps long term (as they are meant) - until it becomes second nature like walking, you will never know what you are missing... and I can't really convince anyone - once you really experience the difference it is self evident.


I could never imagine having the patience of having to put down a pole or hold it in the other hand/under your arm every single time I need to use that hand briefly for something else. (which you have to do without the strap). If the terrain allows I can use my compass/map/camera/phone, wipe my nose, adjust clothing/pack etc and use both hands for simple scrambles - all without losing the poles off my wrists - a quick flick of the wrist and they are back in the hand and carry on...

try falling really hard forward down hill trying to break your fall with the poles out in front so the tips dig in whilst just gripping the handles strapless - wrists won't bend like that and keep a solid grip without bending your elbows - - with straps you don't need to - being at a big angle to the grips, they catch your hands and brake your fall with straight arms...

can't do certain kinds of useful sideways fending pushes off rocks using just the straps n no grips - your wrist won't twist like that whilst still holding the grip (I've tried )

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Barefoot Walking on 01/07/2013 17:25:12 MST Print View

The website for Vivobarefoot shoes has videos of a walking method that uses the forefoot strike. If memory serves, the natural gait of the human physiology consists of smaller steps. So, take smaller steps to be easiest on your knees during hiking. makes logical and scientific sense to me.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
Re: Using Straps Correctly on 01/07/2013 18:10:23 MST Print View

Just a comment: I "used" the straps with trekking poles for years, and read how to use them correctly, but in hindsight, I was not using them optimally. It was not until I spent a season cross country skiing, where you really give it to the strap, did the light bulb go off and I really became "one with the strap".

scott rebello
(scottrebello) - F - M
Look at ChiWalking on 01/07/2013 20:08:12 MST Print View

ChiWalking and ChiRunning are both mid/forefoot strike styles. Sounds like you already do ChiRunning with minimalist shoes. When you walk barefoot you tend not to strike with your heels as much, just as with barefoot running. A little less pronounced but similar. Lots of info out there. Good luck

Todd T
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Straps on your poles are no more necessary... on 01/07/2013 20:25:55 MST Print View

than on your pack.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
ya'll want to keep the straps. on 01/07/2013 20:43:34 MST Print View

with straps you don't have to grip the poles as hard. thusly, when you are tired, it's a better way to go.
only the four fingers go thru the strap, not the thumb ... this is a safety issue. it makes is vastly easier to disconnect when a pole gets jammed and you keep going.
i prefer the angled grips, and the more angle, the better.
once you get to pacer poles, the strap inverts and works differently, and you don't have to grip hardly At All.
peter will be bringing his carbon pacer poles to the GGG, for if anybody wants to play with them.


Mole J
(MoleJ) - F

Locale: UK
four fingers? on 01/08/2013 01:25:39 MST Print View

That's a new one to me ! any pictures?

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: four fingers? on 01/08/2013 08:28:13 MST Print View

Yeah I was just now trying that and it didn't seem to work. Got a picture?