View Full Version : Walking sticks

unknown user
04-05-1996, 08:27 AM
Dear Subscribers of Biomch-L,

I am posting the following information request for an individual not subscribed
to the list. Please send all responses to him directly at the E-Mail address at
the end of the message.
Thank you.

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QUESTION: What is the most efficient length for a walking aide which is
intended as a weight bearing lever and supplemental support on an inclining or
declining grade? And, is there any advantage to a thumbs-up grip (around the
pole) or a palm-centered grip (over the top of the pole) when leverage is


Walking sticks are called by many names including the current vernacular,
"trekking pole". These hiking aides have a long history nearly void of
technical notation as evident from my literature search.

North American folk craft favors a staff which is generally shoulder-high and
features a wrist sling. The pole usually has a diameter just under 1.5 in. and
is gripped around the shaft at arm pit height. Europeans favor a different
design, sometimes called an "alpenstock". The significant difference is in the
height of the device and how it is used as a lever. Alpenstocks are waist-high
and leverage is through downward pressure with the alpenstock's handle gripped
in the palm of the hand. Interestingly, Europeans favor the alpenstock design
as a walking aide but use arm-pit height pole mechanics when cross country
skiing. 17th and 18th century walking sticks were generally waist-high but this
length supported exiting carriages and had little to do with load-bearing

There is unsupported European fold craft which calls for the length of the
alpenstock to be measured by placing your feet apart at a natural stride and
placing the tip of the stick at the front of your forward foot. With your arm
extended, the length of the stick should create a 40 to 45 degree angle between
the arm and torso.

I would appreciate any references regarding or insight into the biomechanics of
sticks. Please send all responses to tnauman2@aol.com. Thank you in advance for
your time and effort.

Ted Nauman
4770 Michael Place
Colorado Springs, CO 80919 USA
E-Mail: tnauman2@aol.com
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George Miller
Peak Performance Technologies, Inc.
7388 South Revere Parkway, Suite 601
Englewood, Colorado 80112 USA
Ph: 303-799-8686 Fax: 303-799-8690
E-Mail: gmiller@peakperform.com
WWW: http://www.peakperform.com