Walking sticks have aided people from athletes to the physically challenged and come in various shapes, sizes, and purposes. They relieve strain on weakened legs, help maintain balance, and assist in physical activities. They have been around since the earliest years of man and have seen many reincarnations.
Even the most basic human physical actions, like walking, have been aided by tools since the beginning of civilization. The walking stick is a simple tool to help a person walk. It has helped people from the most athletic walkers and trekkers, to the physically challenged and handicapped, to the casual walker and pole collector.
The walking stick comes in an infinite variety of shapes, colors, sizes, fashions, constructions and purposes. They range from simple tree branches, felled and carved into a smooth wooden walking apparatus, to manufactured metal or wooden straight canes sold in shops. They have rubber grips, different handles, different accessories and always different lengths and colors. The white cane, however, is generally reserved as an aid for the blind.
Walking sticks have also served a variety of purposes, as canes for the injured or for weakened muscles. For the injured, a walking stick relieves strain on what may be a weakened leg by putting weight on the other side when held in front of the injury. For impaired or weak balance, the walking stick helps maintain an upright posture and acts as a “third leg,” distributing weight and easing pressure on weak muscles or weak knees.
Walking sticks are also used by the most agile, in physical activities such as hiking or mountaineering. Up the jagged rocks and unsteady footing of a cliff or an uncertain path, a hiker might use a walking stick to slowly gain secure footing and to keep weight evenly distributed over unlevel ground. Poles, also called trekking poles or trekking poles, can be used to clear bushes or brambles, to defend against animals, or to test rocks or ice. These walking sticks can go many lengths, but the general rule of thumb is to adjust the height to a level where the wrist and hand are relaxed – to a height where the hand doesn’t strain to go down or is flexed to hold it too narrow . Metal walking sticks with adjustable height are also sold in many outdoor equipment stores and may also be called trekking poles.
Walking sticks, while undoubtedly around since the earliest years of man, saw an emergence in the England of Henry VIII, when they were first called “canes” and were generally made from imported exotic woods. Since then, they have seen many reincarnations; they were crafted from a variety of woods including hazel, oak, orange, and rattan; and have been the learning tools of many, including fictional characters such as JRR Tolkien’s wizard Gandalf and real-life Eastern Orthodox clergy.