Valo and I lived in England in the early 1970’s and there was a hilarious program on TV called, “Are You Being Served?” It depicted a department store where the employees were constantly getting into funny situations. The “floorwalker” would answer a customer’s inquiry and then ask the person to “walk this way”, and as he ambled off with a limp, the customer would follow, assuming the same limp!

But I digress. This morning I took one of my usual walks from my house south of the hospital to past Dairy Queen near the old train depot and return. All of the streets were covered with ice, but that is one of my favorite times to walk. I always walk with my “Exerstrider” poles and in icy conditions I also wear “Yak Trax”  on my shoes, which prevent me from sliding the least bit.

I have written about exerstriding before, and have pointed out  the many benefits of doing so. I  run across  very few others who walk with poles, and it’s sad that so many do not take advantage of the ways the poles enhance one’s exercise.

What are these poles? Well, they are walking poles, usually made of aluminum, with hand grips at the top and attachments on the bottom for use on different surfaces. Since I walk in the streets, I use little rubber “boots” on the bottom of my poles that give good contact with the pavement.

The poles are made of aircraft grade aluminum and are angled backward when you are standing upright. With each step you literally pull yourself forward and then push yourself on forward. By doing so, you utilize the major muscle groups of the upper body and expend at least 30% more calories than when walking without the poles.

It does not seem like you are working any harder when using the poles, but if you are walking for exercise, then you achieve the extra benefits. Use of the poles has also been shown to help take the weight off of your ankles, knees, and hip joints, thus reducing wear and tear on those. I never walk without the poles unless I am out picking up trash and litter.

I have another pair of poles make by Leki that have available attachments that loop around your wrists and are often employed by pole-walkers in the Scandinavian countries.  Walking poles likely were first introduced in that area of the world for use by cross-country skiers in the off season. I read about them in Reader’s Digest many years ago and have used them ever since.

As for the Yak Trax, they are wonderful! They consist of a system of coiled wires and  rubber tubing that slips on to your shoe or boot and stays securely fastened. It’s easier to attachment them to your shoes before you put them on. I find that I can even jog down icy hills with no fear of slipping. You might find them beneficial just for walking around your house outside when it’s icy. Prevention of one fall would likely cover their cost!

Well, next time you see me out walking with poles don’t wonder if I left my skis behind!  Just consider if it might be beneficial for you as well to “walk this way”.

Dr. J

 

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