Did you know that the proper use of trekking poles will reduce your fatigue at the end of a day's hiking, and enable you to hike farther? Correct adjustment of your hiking poles is the key to getting maximum benefit from them.
The most common adjustment position is for flat terrain. The poles should be extended so that your forearms are level with the ground. Most poles have loops at the handles, providing extra oomph. The loops should be placed at the base of the wrist, just tight enough so that you can feel support from them when pushing down and back on the pole.
When striding, plant your trekking poles even with the opposite heel; right pole planted when left heel hits the ground and vice-versa. The handles of the poles should be forward of the tips, so that you are exerting pressure down at a backward angle, pushing yourself forward as you go. This movement and placement of poles will help propel you along, and take some of the work off of your legs.
For most uphill and slightly downhill hiking, this adjustment of the poles will work well. As the terrain changes, readjustment may be required - shortening your poles for very steep hills, and lengthening them for extended steep down hill stretches. When going downhill, you should extend the poles out in front of you to absorb some of the impact with your arms instead of your legs.
Trekking poles are also excellent tools to help maintain one's balance when the terrain is difficult or slippery. You can plant your poles firmly and quickly to catch yourself under these conditions and prevent a possible fall.
Finally, after your hike is complete, be sure to extend the poles and wipe them down with a clean, dry rag. This will help keep them in proper working order and provide you with many miles of pleasant hiking experience!