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Walking Aids

Walking Poles For Seniors Pt 2

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This is Part 2 of a 3 Part Series Part 1 is HERE – Part 3 is HERE

Walking Poles vs. Canes – Selecting the Ideal Walking Pole

Distinguishing Between Walking Poles and Canes

Walking Poles for Seniors

Canes are primarily employed to provide support for individuals facing mobility challenges stemming from issues, surgeries or injuries. They can offer stability and relieve pressure on a painful leg.

On the other hand walking poles (often used in pairs for activities such as strolling or hiking), serve a purpose beyond balance assistance.

They engage the body muscles, encourage posture and evenly distribute effort between arms and legs, transforming walking into a full body workout. Understanding this contrast helps older adults select the mobility aid based on their specific needs.

Selecting the Right Walking Pole

If you’re thinking about giving walking poles a try it’s important to pick ones that suit your needs and get the hang of using them. The key is to find walking poles that are comfortable, durable, and a good fit for your height and activity level. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Size

The perfect length depends on how tall you’re the type of walking you typically do. A simple way to determine this is to hold the poles with your elbows bent at angles and your forearms parallel to the ground. In this position the tips of the poles should touch the ground while keeping your wrists relaxed.

Weight

The weight of the poles impacts how easy they are to carry and swing around. Look for poles that strike a balance between being light enough not to wear you out but not so light that they feel weak or wobbly. The weight can vary based on factors like material, design and features.

Material

The material used affects their strength, longevity and cost. Aluminum and carbon fiber are two options. Carbon fiber tends to be pricier, lighter and better at absorbing shock than aluminum. They can also be more fragile. For walks or hikes both materials should work fine; just go with what feels best for you.

Best Walking Poles

Grip

The grip plays a role, in how comfy and secure the poles feel in your hands.

Select a handle that suits your hand size and shape as the weather conditions you typically walk in. The popular handle materials are cork, rubber, foam and plastic. Cork offers comfort and breathability by conforming to your hand shape and absorbing sweat. Rubber is known for its durability and shock absorption. It may lead to blisters in warmer climates. Foam handles are lightweight and gentle on the hands providing both cushioning and insulation.

Adjustability

Opt for poles that can be easily adjusted in length to accommodate terrains and personal preferences. Common methods of adjustment include twist, lever and push button locks. Lever locks are favored for their ease of use offering a grip and swift adjustments.

References

1. Ono K, Nishimoto J, Imura T, Mitsutake T, Inoue Y, Tanaka S, Tanaka R. The effects of walking training with poles on walking ability: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PM R. 2023 Aug;15(8):1026- 1037. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12886. Epub 2022 Oct 13. PMID: 35943832.(https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35943832/) (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35943832/)

2. Gomeñuka NA, Oliveira HB, da Silva ES, Passos-Monteiro E, da Rosa RG, Carvalho AR, Costa RR, Rodríguez Paz MC, Pellegrini B, Peyré-Tartaruga LA. Nordic walking training in elderly, a randomized clinical trial. Part II: Biomechanical and metabolic adaptations. Sports Med Open. 2020 Jan 13;6(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s40798-019-0228-6. PMID: 31932999; PMCID: PMC6957599. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31932999/)

About Author

Lamia A Kader, MD
Lamia A Kader is a Medical Doctor and a Medical Research Professional with a Ph.D. in Clinical Research. ISMMS, USA. She had enhanced her medical knowledge of medical devices and equipment development and innovation by attending clinical meetings, local national courses, journal clubs, and conferences, in addition to e-learning, subscribing to major medical journals and keeping an eye on latest trends in medicine and keeping an eye on clinical trials industry and healthcare marketing current trends. She had participated in several medical device innovation projects by conducting clinical research studies, developing clinical trial protocols, writing patient safety narratives and “Medical Device Risk Assessment Reports” to transform new medical technologies into real products that save and improve lives. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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