Why Trekking Poles Instead of a Cane?

10 years ago, with my balance and foot drop getting worse, I’d fallen several times, but the thought of using a cane, let alone a trekking pole(s) never entered my mind. Canes were for the elderly, and trekking poles were for Nordic hikers! I’ll be fine, I thought.

At the time, my brother was working at REI, the trendy, upscale sports equipment company. For Christmas, every REI employee was gifted a pair of titanal  Komperdell trekking poles. He offered them to me, and out of curiosity only, I accepted. I took ONE of the poles for a test run. I figured, just like a cane, I would only need one to help with any issues I was having. After one test run in a parking lot, I was sold. I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my confidence because it counteracted my body’s propensity to veer to one side when I walked. Plus, it enabled me to get my foot to clear the ground with more ease and they were easily adjustable for my height.Fast forward about four years and spasticity in my right arm, wrist and hand would have made my ability to hold a typical cane correctly next to impossible, or at least awkward and painful. These poles were meant for me!It wasn’t until I started following The MS GYM several years ago, when coach and neuroplasticity guru, Trevor Wicken, expressed his disdain for canes and his recommendation of using two trekking poles instead of one that my interest was piqued. He discussed how using a cane or single pole encourages poor posture and can throw off your hip alignment. Red flags were waving and sirens going off in my head when I heard that. I KNEW IT! Every physical therapist I’d ever worked with mentioned that my hips were out of alignment no matter what we’d try to counteract it. Little did I know using only one pole was working against me as much it was for me. I headed straight to my closet, dusted off the second pole and headed to my backyard with both poles. I WAS IN SHOCK!  My ability to walk more quickly, and more importantly, with less physical exertion, blew my mind. That was two years ago, and although I had to wean myself off my one-pole habit, over the last year, I’ve embraced using both poles at once and it’s been a game changer. Honestly, I think the biggest hurdle was getting over the fact that people would see me using two poles instead of one and think that my disability had gotten worse (I’ll save that topic for another post). That’s not the case. I’ve just gotten smarter about how I move my body and allot my energy.Over the last month, I’ve spent two long weekends tearing up the streets of New York City; something I never could have done without my poles. Screw the stigma attached to your mobility devices and get out there! You are worthy and deserving of every last bite of this entree we call life! Back to these poles. Have you ever tried them? Head to your local sporting goods shop. Give them a try before you buy. I dare ya’.

Happy trails, my friends…


Photo credits: Amy Hedges Photography


  1. Folake Taylor

    I’ve always known my cane was not good for my posture, but I used a walker a lot then, so it didn’t matter. Being home more during the pandemic meant I needed the walker less and the cane more. Your post has convinced me to maybe try trekking poles instead. We’ll see. Thanks.

  2. Jen

    Thank you for sharing your experience . I’m currently using a cane for the past year because of a right knee injury and a left vestibular dysfunction. Recently I’ve felt that my whole body is completely out of whack and a recent Chiro visit confirmed that yes, my hips and my back lean away from my knee but I’m also suffering terrible shoulder and neck pain resulting from putting so much weight on one side with the cane. Also even my wrist has started to bother me because of it! I’ve been contemplating this, using 2 trekking poles , but was concerned it wouldn’t support my weight as well because I cant Bend my right knee with weight on it , at least not without a lot of pain. Ive also gained weight. Do you think that this could work for me given how much weight I need To put on my cane? I love this idea , just worry to waste money and cause even more injury should it fail to support me properly. I know This isn’t a common idea to even ask doctors so even though this is an old post I’d give it a shot to ask lol thanks

    1. brookeslick

      In my opinion, I would 100% recommend two trekking poles to support your weight. That way the weight distribution is even as opposed to having all of the weight go on to one side of your body and wrist. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And, you don’t have to pay a lot for a good pair of trekking poles. I recently got a really nice pair for $50 at a Columbia outlet store. I wish you all the best!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.