So I have been doing a little hiking with the family, and somewhere along the line I decided to try out a pair of those ski-pole-type walking sticks. You have probably seen these by now; I had, and always wondered about them. I got two nice collapsible ones at REI for $59 each, which I will admit is not cheap. Mine have nice vibration-dampers in them. But there were others I saw on sale that were as low as $20 each. Some of the cheaper ones did not collapse/adjust; more on that later. They are all ultralight. And by the way, an old “recycled” pair of downhill ski poles will also work nicely… “Good Will” has them for like $5, but don’t buy them too long! We can measure you during an appointment, if you have questions.
During one of our hikes, one of my daughters was using one stick and some helpful passer-by popped over to say, “Hey little girl, those are only for old people”. Well, I was already writing this blog in my head and I knew he was uninformed.
Cutting to the chase, I really liked them. They allowed me to involve my upper body in the stride process, which I think is very valuable and adds a core-stabilization concept that I liked. I tried various combinations of one and two sticks, and overall I liked the two sticks the best, since I could truly accelerate myself along, up hills and down the trail, and I was centered. It really worked, I was “booking along” and I felt like I was lighter and had springier steps. I felt like I was “skiing the bumps”, even with a backpack.
I did notice that with one stick, I did have the tendency to forget what I was doing and “lean into it”, like it was a cane, which it is NOT intended to be. It’s a “hiking stick” or “trekking pole”. I think that leaning into one stick would indeed make you dependent, and potentially weaker, so, try to go for the two. However, each time my little girls grabbed one of them and ran ahead, I still found one stick useful to perk up my stride.
My sticks have rounded “balls” at the top that I can put my palms on top of. Some of the others are more ski-pole-like; what can I say, I like to be able to be on top of my poles, just like when I am skiing. You can try it for yourself. By the way, the collapsible idea is nice, especially since it is not a cane; easier to stow, and you may want to adjust the length of one or both depending on what you are doing. So, don’t leave those sticks just for us old folks, but no, you can’t borrow mine, I am having too much fun with them. Check them at http://www.rei.com/brand/REI/c/4500049 and let me know if you have even more fun trekking! Come into the clinic and I will help you adjust them or measure you.