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Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50
Fifty Sense: Common Sense Ideas for Thriving after 50

Benefits of Hiking Poles
by Susan Alcorn

As a 68-year-old long-distance hiker and backpacker, I can personally vouch for the benefits of using hiking poles. I don't leave home without them.

Hiking poles can extend your hiking years

We all know that walking is an excellent exercise, but sometimes we find that the hills are a bit steeper than they used to be — that's where hiking poles come in. Hiking poles are growing in popularity in the U.S. and for several good reasons — some may be obvious, others less so, but using them can extend your hiking years. Here are "12 tips for using hiking sticks."

Use hiking sticks/poles for:

  • Lessening the impact on your lower body — joints and muscles and increasing your upper body workout
  • Greater stability when walking on tough terrain — including loose rock, ice, snow, or muddy patches.
  • Providing extra "legs" when making stream crossings
  • Fending off threatening dogs or cows, or distancing yourself from rattlesnakes
  • Looking taller if you should encounter a mountain lion or bear.
  • Keeping your hands from swelling when temperatures climb.
  • Allowing you to switch to lighter shoes — trail runners instead of hiking boots.
  • Splinting a broken arm or leg
  • Moving the branches of a trailside shrub to have a look before you sit down

And, here are some uses you may not have considered:

  • Twirling as a baton while hiking along (great entertainment)
  • Draping your wet laundry when clotheslines aren't available.
  • Propping up a tent or creating a ceiling support for a snow shelter

For more information on the advantages of hiking poles, check out:

Trekking Poles 101 - OutdoorPlaces.Com

Plant a Pole; Save a Knee

Sticks and Stones: the pros, cons, and uses of trekking poles

For further information from the author on hiking equipment:

"Hints for Hiking Safely"

"10 Hints for Hot Weather Hikes"

Happy trails, Susan Alcorn

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