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…

Brooke

Photo credits: Amy Hedges Photography

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