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I agree with the comments from Pete The Ski Walking Guy that perfectly fitted solid poles are ideal. I haven't had the problems with adjustable poles that he mentions, and I think they are quite adequate for most people, especially if you want to travel with them or share them with another person. Best technique for Nordic walking doesn't have you putting your weight on the poles. If you have balance problems or intend to use your poles for rugged trekking as well as Nordic walking, go with the solid poles. Of course, you can always have two sets of poles for different excursions. This is still very inexpensive for such a great sport and/or fitness activity.
I have both adjustable (LEKI, Boomyah) and one-piece (Exel) poles and I use them alternately. I've never had a pole collapse either. I also have adjustable hiking/trekking poles and adjustable cross-country skiing/snowshoeing poles. Occasionally, I've had one slip a few of inches while in use, but it's mainly because I don't like to crank them down so hard that I have problems adjusting them. I've never fallen or stumbled. Never been injured. And neither has anyone that I've skied/hiked with.
Claire @ http://nordic-walking-usa.blogspot.com
"Perfectly fitted" one-piece poles only happen if a user happens to be perfectly fit by one of several 5cm incremental lengths available. Only telescoping poles can be "perfectly fitted" to every height of user, and quality telescoping poles will service both those with balance problems and "rugged trekkers" just fine. Pete takes a lonely stance in his persistent claim that one-piece poles are superior in all cases.
There seems to be a bit of misunderstanding regarding Nordic walking as well. "Best technique" to derive maximum benefits from Nordic walking has everything to do with applying as much force as possible with each stride to the poles. This is the reason that quality adjustable poles are designed to dependably support as much weight as one-piece versions.
There are hundreds of doctors, therapists, guides, ski instructors and coaches that support the common sense approach to viewing one-piece poles as typically safer, lighter and much more durable than twist-locking adjustable length/telescoping/collapsible poles. The cheap twist-locking poles from China have proven to be the least dependable. Even Leki's homepage on their website had a nice testimony from a customer that had problems with her Leki twist-locks and Leki did a nice job fixing the problem. The question is - was the fix just short term given the nature of twist-locks? Leki is the #1 name in Twist-Locks, but even the best doesn't mean perfect. A participant in one of my classes told a group of about 40 of us that she "super glued" her Leki Titaniums the night before because they didn't hold their setting? Roller skiers, roller bladers, downhill skiers and cross country skiers are committed to the one-piece pole thing too.
At The American Nordic Walking System and WWW.SKIWALKING.COM we carry more sizes of one-piece poles than any other company in the USA/Canada - 14 sizes + we custom fit too (heat gun works wonders).
Walking with poles is the best!
Thank you Joann, Clair, Tom. I am sure others would chime in with their experiences as you all have done. You are all absolutely correct and I appreciate your variations of use and developing best methods. I have been on the front end of innovation of several key sports,with coaching and fitness industry management for nearly 40 years. I have posted on numerous blogs and websites of my interest in The Walking Wave Worldwide, even as I am involved with Foot Solutions and its Nordic Walking Program. FS has branded NPW - Balance Walking - and will always under my watch be about increasing wellness and fitness consciousness for end user participants. We all can agree that we want Nordic Pole Walking with its many variations and product innovations to be the Next Fitness Wave of this Millennium.