First and foremost though, using poles when hiking is good for your health. We recommend them especially when going downhill, because they will cushion the impact on your knees and hip joints, as well as on your back. Particularly when you have a heavy pack, they will help to distribute the weight more evenly among the joints. Poles also help you to keep your balance when in rough terrain and make it easier to wind your way up slopes. In addition, you will benefit from a positive side effect on the legs, arms and upper body and from less strain on the leg muscles.
Trekking poles have a telescopic feature that allows you to adjust the length as you like. Ideally your arms should form a right angle when you reach for the pole on flat terrain. You’ll need to extend them a bit when going downhill (depending on the slope) and contract them when going uphill.
To fully benefit from the positive effect of your poles when you descend, place them parallel to each other and far in front of you. You should then tilt your upper body forwards and actively shift your weight onto the poles. Try to avoid taking very large steps because that will increase the force of the impact with each step.
On easier tours, leave the poles at home or keep them in your backpack, because using them continuously may weaken your sense of balance.