/ Trekking poles and wrist fractures

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GeoffRadcliffe - on 19 Aug 2012
I recently slipped on a wet descent of a slippery limestone pavement. My wrists were inside the loops of trekking poles and as I fell the poles skidded and I landed on my back and on top of one of the poles. My wrist was trapped in the loop and bent round and broken.

Has anyone else suffered this type of injury? and is it worth keeping your wrists outside of the loops if there is a risk of falling?
Trangia - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:

I never use the wrist straps, mainly because I find it a lot more comfortable not to, but as your accident has shown, I like having the ability to discard them quickly if I need to.

Hope you have a speedy recovery.
lfenbo - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: i use the loops all the time as i find it easier on my wrists and hands to do so,however when descending any tricky bits i do take my hands out of the loops just in case i trip over(which i am prone to do).
butteredfrog - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:

Sorry to hear of your injury Geoff.

When instructing people in the use of poles, It's always hands out of loops, when decending, if there is a good chance of a fall or stream crossings etc.

Cheers Adam
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: Sounds nasty Geoff, I hope you make a quick recovery.

I've never used wrist straps on poles, always found them more faff than they were worth (and that's aside from the possibility of injuring yourself, which I'd never considered before!). This goes double since I switched to Pacerpoles, which have no strap and are all the better for it.
clochette - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: Sorry to hear of your injury. I have always avoided using the straps as I know you can hurt your shoulders if you slip, but hadn't thought of wrists too. Hope you recover fully and quickly.
Can't stand Pacer poles though - they look like a training tool for the Zimmer frame!
Dave Williams - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:

Very sorry to learn of your misfortune. This is the first time I've heard of an accident such as yours and I rather suspect it must be fairly uncommon. If it's any consolation I broke a couple of ribs once due to having my wrist in a walking pole loop. It happened during a night time descent from the Carneddau in a white-out. I slipped on snow covered water ice in a boggy area and landed heavily on my arm and side on the ice. Unfortunately, as my wrist was through the loop, I landed on the handle too and this broke the ribs.

I still use poles but I never use the wrist loops.

Dave
GeoffRadcliffe - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: I usually do take my hands out of the loops when it gets tricky. However, the slip happened on a fairly innocuous section of limestone that was almost flat (but slippy as hell due to the rain) on the final mile of the 3 peaks (just before Horton).
Tim Chappell - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:

Bad luck.

If you used wrist-straps but had them done up loosely, then presumably they'd come apart if you put a lot of g-force on them, but would still be OK for staying on your wrists and not skipping off down the hill if you let go?
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:
An advantage of my Mountain Blaze poles was that they're so flimsy that the pole snapped at lower pressure than needed to damage my wrist. Unfortunately someone else agreed and nicked them.
maria85 - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:
If you use the loops in the 'correct' way (ie, put your hand up through the bottom of the loop, before holding the handle together with the top of the loop, rather than putting your hand through from the top straight onto the handle) there is apparently less chance of breaking anything - I have nothing to prove this however it certainly feels this way, with the pole falling away from you more if you slip/let go. Not failsafe though.

It's generally accepted in ski touring that whenever in avalanche terrain loops should never be used, so that poles can be easily discarded if you are caught in an avalanche.

I use the loops all the time (hiking, not skiing) and have never come close to breaking any of me - I have snapped a pole though with my wrist still in the loop (a Leki one too, not anything cheap and flimsy), together with giving myself a very impressive bruise on my thigh!

Hope you recover quickly :)
GeoffRadcliffe - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to maria85:
> (In reply to GeoffRadcliffe)
> If you use the loops in the 'correct' way (ie, put your hand up through the bottom of the loop, before holding the handle together with the top of the loop, rather than putting your hand through from the top straight onto the handle) there is apparently less chance of breaking anything - I have nothing to prove this however it certainly feels this way, with the pole falling away from you more if you slip/let go. Not failsafe though.
>
Yep. That's how I was using them just as you described.
Joak - on 19 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: I always keep my wrists inside the loops as this suits me. My mate now never does. Descending SCNL 2 winters ago he slipped and something went twang in his wrist, tendon or ligament or whatever, he adopted the classic collar bone arm raised comfort position and was oot the gemme for the rest of the season. Who knows, if he didn't have his wrists inside his loops maybe his wrist would have been ok, maybe something else wouldn't.
altirando - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: Yeah, that's how I hold poles too, only thumb and fingertips holding the pole itself (comes from xc skiing). Sometimes palm the tops down a steep drop. Just trying to work out how a hand could get damaged. Giving me food for thought.
JIB - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: Quite a common injury considering the types of fall possible, movement restrictions on the wrist imposed by the loops, and the leverage of the poles. Advice to users is to avoid use of the wrist loops in situations where there is a realistic risk of an injury through a slip or fall - broken or slippery ground, boulder fields, etc.

Mention of wrist loops in XC skiing should also reflect that many instructors working with novice XC skiers advise that the wrist loops are not used initially because of the high probability of a fall; this is to avoid the risk of the very injuries identified above. However, the appropriate usage of wrist loops is introduced after the initial balance and movement skills are securely mastered.

Best wishes for a swift and full recovery.
BruceM - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to lfenbo:
> (In reply to GeoffRadcliffe) i use the loops all the time as i find it easier on my wrists and hands to do so,however when descending any tricky bits i do take my hands out of the loops just in case i trip over(which i am prone to do).

Yes. Loops used correctly are essential to get the most benefit from the poles. They are also invaluable when you need to use one or two hands for on/off scrambling (dragging poles behind - with care). But when the snow or weird fall potential is around I ditch the loops ready to throw the pole(s) to prevent damage or use the axe properly.

Ouch! That's rough, OP that you broke something. So good luck for a good fast recovery.

Gael Force - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to BruceM: Loops aren't essential, I don't use them for skiing or walking,in case of a fall and your arm being wrenched by the loop if the pole catches, if you are scrambling it's better to put poles away.
dissonance - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:

i had a chat a while back with an ML and member of a rescue team around this. He specifically didnt use the loops since he had been involved in rescues caused by this. So while dont think is common certainly isnt unknown.
personally i havent really got in with poles in the past but think i would be avoiding the loops if i try them again.
SimonCRMC - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:

First of all, hope you make a quick and full recovery.

As several people have said it's good advice to get your hands out of the loops on steep ground or anywhere you might risk a fall because it frees your hands to take action and avoids you getting smacked by a pole if you slip or roll.

I remember reading somewhere that using the wrist loops means you grip the handle more loosely and transfer force directly to the forearms, which is more comfortable and efficient when you're walking.

Simon
Blodwyn - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe:
A speedy recovery Geoff.
I always use wrist straps when using poles as do my regular walking pals.I did damage my elbow a while ago, slipped and over extended it, this was on a steep boulder section, since then I always stow them if I am scrambling, best out of the way, but find them of great benefit on both uphill and descent, they have prevented me stumbling on a number of occasions.
GeoffRadcliffe - on 22 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: Thanks for all the sympathetic messages. I guess it was just bad luck. In future I wil try and guard against getting the pole behind my back when slipping over and taking my hands out of the loops when on wet limestone.
sputnik3383 - on 27 Aug 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: sounds like you where unfortunate there but like other posts i would ditch the loops as you might be able to save yourself with your hands free. personally i dont use poles but at times they can be usefull
Lorraine McCall on 31 Aug 2012
i would like to put another vote for pacer poles - there are no wrist loops to worry about and your wrist is in a more natural position to stop any repetitive strain injuries.
Vaughany89 - on 02 Sep 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: I can say with some confidence you are using the straps wrong. Instead of going straight in, go through the bottom and hammock the strap in between your thumb and forefinger. Not only will this allow your hands to escape in a fall, but will mean you don't have to grip as hard and induce cramp or aches.
pog100 - on 02 Sep 2012
In reply to Vaughany89:
if you actually read the thread you would see that that is exactly how he was using them and that your absolute confidence is misplaced.
clochette - on 02 Sep 2012
In reply to Vaughany89: Why use the straps at all? You're only walking.
Simon Caldwell - on 02 Sep 2012
In reply to clochette:
> Why use the straps at all?

Because they allow more force to be placed on the poles. Which is a good thing if you're trying to go fast, and don't fall over :-)

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