You just got your stilts and just wanna go for a jump right. "BUT WAIT , THERES' MORE".
Before you get up on your stilts, there are some things you need to be aware of and understand. Your new stilts will have the most important thing, the spring. When brand new these springs are fairly stiff and with new springs you should allow a time period to soften them or run them in. In other words, before you go jumping up as high as you want to, the springs will give you a huge resistance and generally making it feel very uncomfortable and can be dangerous. Once you have put your stilts on , use a pole or a rail or a friend to hold onto and walk around. That old saying crawl before you walk, really applies to bocking, especially when you fall down and try to get up for the first time(you'll see). Everyone is different and some will pick it up quicker than others, but the main thing is don't be disheartened if you fall or you think you're not jumping high enough, when you comfort zone comes along and you're technique fits you just right, you will feel different and have more enjoyment than frustration.
There are a few things that can be done to your stilts before just jumping up on them, and the wider bocking community out there has a few tips to create a less trouble free experience on your stilts and for you to get the most out of them.
TAPING THE SPRING
Your spring on your stilt is pretty much your engine for enjoyment, and as such can be cared for by taping around it. This decreases the risk of denting or knicking your spring which can result in weakening your spring and may cause it to split and in a few extreme circumstances snap. Because they are made mainly of fibreglass it is the very unlikely hood they would ever snap in 2 ,(but it has happened) and as the name suggests, it is fibres which kind of hold together in strings and when the integrity has failed they flex like spaghetti , still holding together but no longer a spring that can be used for your stilt.
The most common tape used is electrial tape which is ok, but it just doesn't have enough thickness to create a cushioning layer you really want. Tennis handle and hockey handle grip tape is highly recommended aswell as cricket handle covers and a personel favourite is some seatbelt covers. You could use a double side tape, which gives you that little extra cushion and then cover this with some electrical tape to hug it all to the spring.
Here is an example of taped springs with also feet protectionhttps://i.servimg.com/u/f25/11/65/03/24/taped10.jpg
(photo by Simba of PP)
EXTRA KNEE SUPPORT
If your knee area is fastened in nice and snug, your bocking experience will be much nicer and you will cause yourself less damage. If your knee feels it is moving around to much, then you should take some action to make sure it's not gonna flap around when using your stilts. The straps on your knee support bar, sometimes can feel and in alot of cases come loose easily. Remember you are jumping up and down with a bit of force, so it's from this general movement that your straps may loosen. There are a few things you can try. The most common would be to use an extra snap lock buckle , similar to the ones used on back packs to wrap over the knee bar and around the back of your leg. http://sifter.org/~max/powerisers.html
Also to decrease the movement you can increase the padding on the knee bar itself. The padding in this pic is from a pool noodle cut in half.https://i.servimg.com/u/f25/11/65/03/24/foam10.jpg
(photo by Hooterz of PP)
And another method is to attach a strap or binding from the current knee bar fixing it with cable ties. This is usually done with a foot binding strap similar to the snow board ones.https://i.servimg.com/u/f25/11/65/03/24/bind10.jpg
(picture from Dominion of PP)
TYRE SOCKS OR TYRE PADS
The little rubber foot or pad on the bottom of your stilt, can wear down quickly on most slilts out there. There are few models that will have a removable foot pad and there are those that need to replace the whole bottom leg piece. Tyre socks are a way to decrease the rate at which you would need to replace your normal foot pad. As the name suggests it is a tyre piece that is used as a sock for your stilt foot. The most common tyre sock modification is by using an old or new everyday bicycle tyre, cut at desired length to cover the foot of the stilt, which is then held in place with a hose clamp. Tape over this then with electrical tape to hold the excess down and tuck it in. Try to place the fastener on the outside facing side of the stilts, this will ensure you don't jump on them and you won't bang them together.https://i.servimg.com/u/f25/11/65/03/24/footr10.jpg
(photo by Stunt Munkeh of PP)
This is a serious tyre sock modhttps://i.servimg.com/u/f25/11/65/03/24/carty10.jpg
(photo by lidor 1980 of PP)
And here is quick change sock stylehttps://i.servimg.com/u/f25/11/65/03/24/hoof10.jpg
(photo by Jason R of PP)
In Summary this added protection of your stilts is to reduce their wear and tear and increase their overall condition for the long term.
Another thing to be aware of is at each joint there is either a bearing or spacers with bushings, like your little axels that allow your stilts to bend and flex in smooth movement keeping your foot in a level position. These areas need to be lubricated for maximum shelf life. If you have metal bearing or spacers it is best to use the wd 40 sprays. If you have the plastic bushing then it is best to put a non petrolium product , something like a silicon based lubricant as it wont eat into the plastic. This preperartion on these points is vital in increasing usage and decreasing wear and tear and also will solve that squeek that you may get.
More will be posted soon so stay tuned