Ataxia UK
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Walking with Poles - my experiences of choosing and using walking poles.

(Dicated using Dragon Dictate)

Walking with Poles - my experiences of choosing and using walking poles.
(Dicated using Dragon Dictate)

Edit - Pictures here:

Having heard how Litty found using the poles and chatted with her about using them, I decided to see if I could find some that might be suitable for me.

I went to 'Go Outdoors' as our neighbour had lent me his discount card and there found a helpful young assistant who showed me their stock and helped me tounderstand the differences between the different models and, most importantly, once I had chosen the pair I wanted, marked the correct height settings on them with felt pen. This made me feel much more confident about starting with them.

I was a bit anxious about using poles in public so the next day I drove about 6 or 7 minutes to a local hotel in its own grounds and parked there.

I set them up - mine come in 3 sections which have 2sections that you unscrew to loosen and set at the height you want and then screw up again and click back to set them and make them be slightly springy -i found that this does not require much strength at all to do.

I managed to set my poles up at the marked height and having had a little bit of practice in the back garden the day before, I set off slowly up a slight gradient ( this would normally be a problem for me as I stagger about normally) and was delighted to find that I could flick the poles slightly ahead of me and'walk onto' them and- much to my surprise- get my posture better by standing more upright and able to look ahead.....

I was so pleased about this - it made me realise that this had real possibilities for me and that I had been lucky to find poles that seemed to be right for me.

They are called Hi Tech Striders and have cork handles and good loops which also can be adjusted. I was worried about tripping over them but this hasn't been the case - but I think I have developed a kind of chinese chopsticks style to use them - and I found myself saying to them "Right, you can have my ataxia for a while and see if you like it!" and that did me good!

The best thing I did to help me with them was to add a strip of 10cm wide fluffy Velcro to the top of the left hand one and cut a tiny hole in this to take a camera screw ( alot of the expensive poles have this on them) and on the other pole put the rough Velcro as a strip round the edge so that when I stop I can lean them onto each other and they don't fall about!

I was delighted to finally find something that worked for me.I still haven't walked down our road yet with them but I have been to a walking for health group on my own-and introduced myself to them with my poles which was a BIG step for me.....

I now have a rucksack weighted with water bottles to help with the posture ( and make me feel the part) and new trail shoes to help me balance better and they together have made a real difference to the business of getting about outside and getting some exercise and fresh air.

Let me know how you get on if you decide to try poles yourself!

16 Replies

VERY impressed but we need a photo : )


Thanks Litty -photo showing the poles to follow -the Tech guy Vinay is adding them for me as there are 2 more which he will put together as one photo as we can only add one here.

It's with thanks to you that I was able to get going with these.Hows things with you?


Can't wait for pics!

I am very well thanks : )


Vinay has added them now so you can see how the Velcro works

What make are your poles?

The physio says to keep them square and tightish or tidy not chopstick style!


Good for you.Lots of people seem to use poles.I used a rollator for 2 years until I got stuck in some mud.Now I use my road scooter and go blackberrying and exploring new landscapes fromm there.That has given me freedom and it has become part of my daily routine as well as something I look forward to.


Thanks silk wood! The blackberrying sounds good! I took a cutting from some honeysuckle on one of my walks which I'm growing on.I haven't picked any blackberries this year yet.

How are you doing?


Struggling physically but luckily have devoped routines to stop me going potty.Probably relying on gadgets like scooter.Walking and talking have deteriorated but don't know if this is due to the disease or me getting lazier.Healthier mentally but do a lot of talking to myself.Determined to stay positive but have my moments.



My speech has deteriorated a lot recently - I've developed a lisp now as well as the slurred speech so I have my first speech therapy on Monday. I've also had three choking sessions over breakfast which has really shaken me up. I'm developing my creative interests to take my mind off an iPad which my husband got me and this is great for things.

Am I right in thinking that like Marie you were a teacher too?the prospect of speaking like a five year old when I'm fifty five in front of professionals is not nice. Any advice?


Definately going to look into this. I have an unused walking stick. Thanks very much for this info.

Keep walking



I have had a couple of pairs of poles. Both Leki. I inherited my first off my son after a trip abroad with school, walking up a mountain. My husband started to borrow these for long distance walks, so I got a spare pair.

I am really glad that they have helped other folk.


I looked at the Leki in the shop but i thought they were too expensive to get intially and Id start with a cheap pair. Mine were about £20 I think and with the discount card I got them for £10.Theyre a bit bulky in terms of length but you cant have everything at that price.

The other thing thats helped is having grippy footware- I got some Reebok trail shoes which fit really well and which are light in weight.


Your poles sound like a real bargain.

I only got my Leki ones because they were second hand. The second pair Ian got me through guilt!

I have just tried, and LOVE - Vibram Fivefingers

You look a complete prat but they are so comfy!


All that sounds VERY promising

I skipped the poles though - feeling I could manage without them.

Unfortunately, I couldn´t so I have to use rollators now.

(r...s as you ruin the place- says my wife- with an outdoor rollator

so, I bought 2 indoor rollators)




The " Let's Go Indoor Rollator" is for indoor use only.. As I wrote

I have got two " Let's Go(s)" as I found carrying one upstairs

was dangerous.

The rollator- when bought unused- is far too expensive. So,

I bought second hands via Internet


Used poles succesfully then an outdoor rollator,now got two scooters , one second hand and the other for the garden off e bay. Use my outdoor rollator for garden and greenhouse but keep getting it stuck everywhere!! Keep tidying stuff away but keep falling over pots and tools and prunings I ve left randomly.


I am definately going to look into these 'poles', sounds amazing! In fact, I wish I'd discovered this site much earlier, it's so good to share experiences of Ataxia, especially as there is no 'text book' progression of the condition so all we have are each other? Thanks guys x


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