SOLD on Trekking poles!

I sat on the examination table in my paper gown, my legs hanging off the side, wondering if I should hop down to get a book to read, when the door opened. The older, white-haired, orthopedic specialist who looked to be over 70, entered with a young resident-in-training glued to his side. From the moment they entered the room, the elder doctor was drawn to my knees like moths to a flame. Absent were the courtesy greetings, “how are you, today?” “What brings you in, today?” Instead, the doctor’s eyes locked on to my knees. He pulled over the rolling stool and began closely examining them through his bifocals, occasionally pointing out various protrusions to the resident. He still hadn’t spoken to me so I just sat there quietly, rather amused at his interest in my knees since I was there for a hip exam. Finally, with his head still at knee level, he peered up over his bifocals, and spoke to me for the first time, slowly and deliberately, “YOU were a VERY active little girl, weren’t you?”

I remember being squirted with Bactine or peroxide on such occasions. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Yes, I was a very active little girl, 30-40 years ago. Each of those scars represents a memory, “This is where I fell onto the concrete patio while practicing volleyball.” “This is were I fell attempting that dance move.” “This is where the dog yanked me off the concrete porch steps when he spotted a squirrel.” As a kid, I played all kinds of sports despite being clumsy and having terrible balance. My parents purchased knee pads for me which I guess gave me license to fall on my knees as often as I wanted because I wore holes in them. Yet, you don’t have to be particularly active to trip over your own feet, which I’ve been known to do walking on perfectly level ground. I learned early to buy only closed-toe sandals and shoes if I wanted to keep my toenails. I am also easily distracted. Most people know not to text and drive. I should also not text and walk. Recently, I was answering a text message only to step ankle deep into a square of freshly poured concrete.

Perhaps my center of gravity is a little higher than it should be with extra long legs and a minuscule torso? Whatever the reason, I topple easily and fall hard. Wooden stairwells are particularly dangerous. Multiple times, I’ve taken a tumble while wearing my favorite fluffy socks. The housekeeper wasn’t quite sure what to think when she found me just lying on the stairwell with my head on the first step and the rest of my body trailing up the stairs. I was just relaxing, taking mental inventory of my injuries before attempting to straighten myself.

Photo by Tobias van Schneider on Unsplash

So, naturally, when the hip surgeon reviewing my X-rays asked if I’d ever had any trauma to my hip, I replied, “No. Not that I know of.”

Now that I have a brand new hip, I’ve determined it’s time to take ownership of my clumsiness and start applying more preventative measures, taking better care of my joints. The use of a walker during this first week following hip surgery really demonstrated to me how much more steady I was with the extra support. I might look 30 years older using the walker but I didn’t stumble because there were were four more points of stability to protect me. However, a full-time walker is not very practical for my lifestyle. I’ve seen people around town using hiking sticks so I thought that might be an option I could live with. Who knew there were so many options to hiking sticks?! There are different grips, adjustment mechanisms, materials, baskets, and tips made for a wide variety of activities!

Photo by Field Forest and Fire on Unsplash

To quote Ryan Bradley in his Wirecutter review of the best trekking poles, “Poles improve balance and cut down significantly on wear and tear in your legs (especially in your knees), particularly when you’re going downhill. But poles also make walking—one of the best, and certainly easiest, workouts you can do—even healthier. Poles stave off injuries and lessen impact, sure, but they also get your whole upper body involved.”

How have I not known about these? This is a very convincing article so I encourage anyone on the fence about purchasing poles to read it. Poles aren’t tools for only the frail or elderly but for every person that walks. If I had started using poles decades ago, I might not be needing all the surgical procedures I’m lined up for today. Why haven’t we made these things fashion statements and fitness must-haves? They come in adorable colors. Every day, active people pass me by carrying these fancy yoga mat bags. I see no reason why poles should not be equally as popular. I cannot wait to receive my very first pair!

Featured image Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “SOLD on Trekking poles!

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  1. I have a pair of poles. I don’t use them anymore, but that is because my balance is now precarious, so it is difficult to walk with them, especially on uneven ground, even sloping sidewalks. But they were fun to use when I could.

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    1. Janet, what do find that helps most with your balance? Ideally, the poles should help with that according to all I’ve read. Do you have all the bells and whistles like the shock absorber baskets and whatnot? I found the walker to be really helpful, I’m just hoping to have a little more flexibility.

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  2. I appreciate your doctor’s interest in the story your body tells. The reason I am being cremated. I do not want someone decades or centuries after my death to try to figure out what my life was like considering all the injuries. My injuries are mostly horse related. I do not wear any shoe that exposes my toes, I do not have one toe that is straight or looks like they are a set. Until your post I had not thought about walking with poles or support. But I do so most of the time, a shepherds crook when working sheep, a shovel, or rake. I have seen people walking with poles, but had not given much thought. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Yes! I’m from a 6 generation horse family! Been bucked off a few times only, thankfully. I have more injuries related to fostering dogs! One thing really interesting I’ve learned from doing my PT exercises is how easily is it to avoid using all your muscles properly! When I walk as instructed, focusing on each individual muscle, I feel all my joints fall in place and no pain. The second I lapse in concentration, I feel the kneecaps start to slide around and the hips start to pop. It’s fascinating really and much more exhausting to walk correctly. I’m so anxious to get those pole and to really start to use them as part of a full-body workout

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      1. I have had to work on how I use different parts of the body incorrectly. Not walking using all the muscles with the bones correctly, as you mentioned. But with consistent correction your body does develop muscle memory, and it gets easier. Good luck with the poles and your full-body workout.

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      2. Had a second thought – Have you ever attended or watched riding lessons with Sally Swift? She goes into muscles and skeletons on both the person and horse, illustrating correct position and use.

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  3. Michelle, We are identical, I think. I can’t tell how many times I’ve fallen, but it is something to take seriously the older we get. I have what is called stabilization shoes made by Hoka. That did not keep me from twisting my knee and tearing my meniscus playing pickleball, but it has helped keep me from falling more times. I also have poles, but I don’t use them much. I should! Thanks for a sharing your story.

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      1. I’m glad you are doing well with them. There is a curve. It’s like, “What do I do with these things? Do I hit the ground with every step?” I only used mine a few time. It’s so much faster to walk without them, and I’m usually holding on to a leash.

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