Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities for many people, especially those living in cities. In addition to getting away from the noise and pollution in cities and towns, it allows the person to explore nature, and is also excellent exercise for the entire body. While it is possible to hike without any accessory, increasingly people are using a hiking stick when they go on a hike. The stick is usually made from wood, though other materials may be used and should be strong enough to bear the weight of the body. The many hiking stick benefits are discussed in detail in this article.
While hiking, the legs are carrying the weight of the body and any other material and a person is likely to feel tired after walking for some time. If a hiking stick is being used the weight of the body is distributed more evenly on the arms which are holding the stick. Also while hiking, usually only the legs are being exercised, the upper body does not get much exercise. However, if the arms are holding the hiking stick, the arms and upper body are getting some exercise, since the hiker is placing the stick in front of him, as he moves forward.
Unless a very popular hiking trail is being used, the terrain for the hike is likely to be uneven with holes, fallen trees, muddy areas, rocks. The terrain is usually more slippery during rainfall and snowfall. The hiking stick will provide additional support to the body, so that the hiker can balance himself well on rough terrain, and does not slip and fall. Often the hiker will be walking up a steep incline, and will require additional support. So the wooden stick will help the hiker climb up hills and other similar terrain, more easily and comfortably.
Often the hiker will have to cross streams, puddles, and other places where water has accumulated, especially if it has rained in the area. It is often difficult to estimate how deep the stream or puddle is. So the hiking stick can be used to estimate the depth of the water, and if the stream is very deep, it is better to find an alternate route. This is better than wading in the stream since wet clothes can cause illness, are heavy and uncomfortable to wear. In many areas, there may be holes dug by rats, moles and other animals, so using the stick to explore the area in front can help ensure that the hiker does not fall into a hole.
Since most people cover long distances, hiking is a very strenuous activity, and the muscles, joints are under strain. The back of the hiker may also start paining if he is carrying a heavy backpack. Impact injuries are caused when the person is walking continuously for a few hours. If a hiking stick is used, part of the load on the leg joints, and muscles is greatly reduced, so the possibility of injuries, muscle sprain is less. Often hikers are twisting their ankle if they are walking on uneven surfaces, and the hiking stick, will provide them support, reduce the strain on the injured ankle.
The hiking trail is usually in a forested area, where there are many animals of all sizes. While most animals will avoid people, some animals like foxes or wolves may get aggressive and attack the hiker. In these cases, having a strong hiking stick can help the hiker defend himself against the animal, prevent injuries. When the hikers are having their meals, birds may try to eat the food. In this case, the stick can be used to drive away the bird. In other areas, the vegetation may be very dense, or the path may be blocked by shrubs, herbs or tree branches. In these cases, the stick can help in clearing the hiking path.
However, there are some precautions to be taken while using the hiking stick. Care should be taken to ensure that the stick does not get stuck in a hole, or crevice. The hiker should hold his stick firmly while crossing streams, else the stick may flow away in the water. There is also a possibility that the stick will break if too much pressure is applied. The above tips for using a hiking stick can help in ensuring that the hike is a safer and more enjoyable experience.