Walking Sticks: Are They Helpful?

Whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsperson or just going out on a quick hike, you’ve probably seen other hikers using Walking Sticks (AKA Trekking Poles).

From professional-grade Poles to perfectly-sized branches you find along the way, trekking poles can add stability and comfort to your walk.

What are the Pros of Walking Sticks?

  • Give your arms something to do. Every day is Leg Day when hitting the trails, but are your arms getting some exercise too? Trekking poles not only keep your arms engaged but keep your hands from swelling up as you’re climbing by keeping them elevated.
  • Maintaining balance. The only thing better than two legs is four legs! Poles act as another set of limbs to give you stability when navigating tricky terrain. They can keep you from slipping and provide added traction when walking on sand and gravel.
  • Test ice strength and water depth. Many of the worst-case scenarios when hiking involve water and ice. Your walking sticks can be a useful tool to ensure you’re not stepping on thin ice or deep waters.
  • Help you maintain a good pace. Experience hikers agree that using Trekking Poles is a great way to establish and maintain a rhythm for longer periods of time. Many find the repetitive motion to be meditative and relaxing.

It can’t be ALL good, right? Here are some Cons of Walking Sticks:

  • They can be cumbersome. Let’s face it, hauling around two long sticks and be limiting in some situations, particularly if you’re expecting to take lots of pictures or have to use rope assistance.
  • Added weight. While many professional-grade Trekking Poles are lightweight and easily storable, cheaper (and nature-made) versions of walking sticks can become quite heavy as you travel longer distances.
  • Additional energy spent. As we mentioned above, using walking sticks can add an upper body layer to your hike. This makes the hike more physically demanding and causing you to spend more calories. For those of us going on extremely long hikes, or with limited access to food, this may not be a good idea.
  • Movement patterns. Finally, the use of walking sticks changes your upper body movement pattern. Our regular upper body movement is rotational in nature (think of swing your arms as you walk/run) and walking sticks force the torso into a straight forward pattern. This eliminates the many benefits that come from a natural walking pattern.

Let’s lace and up and hit the trails!

Before you head out, make sure to check out our Top 5 hiking spots in the DC Area!

Are injuries or pain holding you back from enjoying the great outdoors? Click here to find a TJC location near you!

Source: The Mayo Clinic