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A walking stick is just what the name implies: a stick which assists a person in walking, hiking, or even standing still. It can be thought of as a sort of “third leg.” Many individuals find that their own two legs simply aren’t enough for the comfort and stability they are looking for when walking or hiking, even only for short distances. A walking stick or walking poles will give the needed help and make a person feel as though he is on more solid ground.
When buying a walking stick, one must consider his own individual desires and tastes. The need for the walking stick is the first consideration. A walking stick used for hiking steep trails will be quite different than the one used for walking indoors. A walking stick used to assist a person in walking after an injury or due to a physical ailment will vary in type than the one used for recreation. After determining the specific use of the walking stick, use the following guidelines when it is time to buy.
For hiking or other outdoor, adventuresome walking, a single walking stick will provide stability and relieve stress on the arms, legs, and back. Yet, using a pair of walking sticks or hiking poles provides even better balance and control; sometimes it takes a bit of practice to get used to a pair of sticks or poles, but most people find that once they get used to them, walking with hiking poles is even better for their joints and muscles than a single walking stick.
Using a walking stick for hiking can serve purposes other than just a third leg. A walking stick might be used as a sort of mini-pole vault for helping hikers jump across streams; it can be used to pull up other hikers who have fallen down or need a bit of help getting up a steep incline; and it can even be used to ward off wild animals, if necessary.
Walking sticks made primarily for indoor use differ mainly in the tip at the bottom of the stick. Many use a rubber tip, much like a tip that would be used on a cane, while others have a type of claw which keeps the walking stick sturdy, prevents it from slipping, and is beneficial in soft ground, such as sand or snow.
A walking stick can be anything from a tree branch which has been cut to size, or it can be made from strong, lightweight titanium, with the ability to collapse down and store in small spaces, such as backpacks or luggage. For walking on flat surfaces, a walking stick should be about one half the height of the person using the stick, while it should be at shoulder height for walking on inclines. Regardless of the style or type, the most important thing about a walking stick is that the person using it feels comfortable with it and helped by it.