By James Raia
One challenge for RV enthusiasts is how to efficiently store sometimes bulky exercise equipment. Walking sticks can be stored about anywhere.
Folding bikes and collapsible kayaks help define the axiom of big things in small spaces. But there’s another likely unheralded option — walking sticks. They’re available in fixed length, adjustable styles and folding varieties and are ideal for campground walkabouts or more adventurous treks.
Sometimes called walking poles or Nordic poles, walking sticks first became en vogue in Finland in the 1930s. Skilled cross country skiers unknowingly started a year-round fitness trend.
The country’s athletes won four medals, including two gold medals, during the Winter Olympics in the 1930s. But with success comes expectations, and when there wasn’t enough snow for normal training, the Finnish athletes became innovators. They began using their skiing poles during dryland training.
A staple for Europeans for decades for recreation enthusiasts of all ages, the benefits of exercising with walking poles are now appreciated globally. Increased use of more muscle groups, less impact on joints, proper posture alignment and improved breathing have fostered the popularity. With increased muscle use, more calories are burned.
Black Diamond Trail trekking poles are top-ranked by many consumer websites and specialty publications. A variety of styles for general and specialty uses are available at Dick’s Sporting Goods around the country.
“We liked that they didn’t vibrate (some poles wobble) on uphills or downhills,” said Jenni Gritters in a Black Diamond review on gearpatrol.com. “They provided good traction in muddy spots or where rocks were loose, and we came home with happy knees and ankles.”
Many other national specialty outdoor retailers carry LEKI hiking and trekking poles, including the women’s-specific Cressida. “The Aergon Thermo foam compact (faux cork) grip is smaller in overall dimensions to better fit a woman’s hand along with a shorter strap for less bulk,” the company’s website details. “The entire pole configuration is lighter and shorter to allow for more compact stowing into smaller packs.”
“Our tagline is ‘walk, run, play.’ We are a lifestyle company more than anything else,” said Will Scott, the inventor and lead designer at DynamoMe.com, a prominent national mobile device company based in Florida. “Inventing a product is not enough. We want to let people live their lives with a tool that can take them to any place they want to be.”
The mobility device company recently introduced Prime Stick, marketed as “the first urban cane that converts into a walking stick.” The Prime Stick is a versatile hybrid, ideal for mountainous treks, flat trails and walking on sidewalks. The flexible footing is secure in all weather conditions.
Scott, a former international-caliber taekwondo athlete who has endured many injuries and surgeries, invented the Prime Stick for all-ages use. “With the design of our sticks, I wanted to get rid of the stigma that walking sticks are for the infirm,” he said. “Society has kind of helped us get rid of the stigma with younger people doing hiking and walking.”
Prime Stick features an EVA foam handgrip and a lightweight aluminum core with a foam-covered upper post for versatile, sweat-absorbing and non-slip gripping. The tether is ergonomic for wrist support.
“The demographic part of it is amazing,” said Scott. “We have had a kid using them who broke his leg and a grandma who likes it better than her cane because she has more stability and feels safer.”
Dr. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., a sports medicine, fitness, strength training and stability training specialist at the Mayo Clinic, the American nonprofit academic medical center, extols the benefits of walking poles. “Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles through a functional range of motion as you walk,” he said. “It helps you turn your daily walk into a full-body workout.”
Editor: The DynamoMe Prime Stick is available at Amazon.com.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.