I tend to step sideways a lot when going down steep, rocky or slippery decents, so my stick is at my side too. To the untrained onlooker it might appear easy, but I can get pretty creative in my falls, and some would be pretty hard to reproduce without my kind of extensive experience, so it's also easy for me to imagine how a pole that would fit exactly under my lowest rib when standing straight might get jammed there in a fall. I think I could pull that off.
I googled "injury caused by trekking pole" and this page came up:Hiking Poles
See, I'm not the only one who can fall with unique style and flare <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
My guess is that those poles are made and used primarily for trekking on trails, which I seldom do. It's pretty much impossible to bushwhack nordic style in the Ozark Forests for more than a few consecutive strides, but conjuring an image of someone trying is entertaining <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Trailrunner must be right, it's a matter of where and how you hike.