We live in a rural area and like to walk in the country. Most folks in the country don't keep a dog leashed as it isn't a law or most times necessary. We carry walking sticks as an aid as well as a deterrent for the occasional aggressive critter. Besides I like the feel of a solid staff in the hand. It also helps the wife with her balance as she has had both knees replaced.
I carry a nice shillelagh whenever I can. I have a background in Irish and Fillipino martial arts so a good knob stick just feels right in the hand. And of course there is nothing wrong with a little extra support now and then!
We moved to a new neighborhood 5 1/2 years ago, and I noticed two guys my age walking frequently, carrying but not using walking sticks. I walk at least four days per week, and soon encountered a very aggressive dog with no collar. I pulled up my crazy and backed him off, but then understood why those two guys carried sticks.
I have had a bum knee, since a meniscus tear in 1993 and a surgery that went very badly. I've attempted running many times since, but it swells up a lot. It's unpredictable, so the stick sometimes helps the walk, but it always backs off the beasts. I was undefeated in pugil sticks in boot camp, and so the defensive aspect is a plus.
We travel and hike some, and a stick lessens the chance for a fall on steep slopes. The same principle applies to geological field trips. Some outcrops are accessed only after a scramble up a steep slope.
I have no need for a walking stick. But I use a hiking pole on underletting ground ,slippery slopes ,etc. Find them handy for knocking stinking nettles and alike out the whilst walking .Very handy for pulling apples of the tree when out of reach.
Although I do not need a walking stick all the time I do tend to use one as my left knee can sometimes have a mind of it's own and throw me a wobbler, a bit awkward on steps and stairs. I use a long stick (hiking pole) as they are more useful for stability i.e. going down stairs putting the pole on the next lower step for stability, also for pushing on when going up stairs and slopes. It is also free advertising as most of my requests for sticks come from people stopping me to admire, and ask where I got my stick from, so if I am busy in the workshop I will use a plain thumb stick.
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