Walking Canes and Walking Sticks: Basic Human Need

This is the second installment in a series on the history, function, and uses of walking canes and walking sticks.

© 2012 Brazos Walking Sticks

The basic need of every human being is physical survival. There’s no doubt that our forerunners used sticks to help in their pursuit of essential human survival: from stoking a fire, to navigating treacherous terrain, to fending off wild animals, sticks have been part and parcel to human existence.

These days — in modern society at least — walking sticks aren’t necessary to aid in basic survival, but, without doubt, the echo of ancient utility reverberates to our present day: it’s heard — and sensed — when we intuitively pick up a stick when we need to navigate some tricky terrain; or when our intrinsic need for support (perhaps from injury) compels us to reach for something that can easily serve as an extra appendage; or when our visceral impulse for protection from animals leads us to reach for a felled limb while walking through otherwise innocuous neighborhoods.

Only in the past few decades has this basic impulse — the basic human need — moved from the instinctual idea of using saplings or tree limbs, to using non-holistic, man-made metal rods. While there may be some utility to the latter approach, the former has been humanity’s support-answer for nearly all of its existence. Furthermore, wooden walking sticks and walking canes offer a flexibility in handcrafted design that other materials can not emulate, yet another reason for wood’s popularity among those in need of a walking aid.

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