I watched the movie The Way last fall, about a pilgrimage route through Spain that is at least 200km. All of the walking pilgrims had pairs of hiking sticks (I've also seen them called trekking poles), and I was interested in how they might be helpful. Looking online, they seem to redistribute some of the weight/effort from the legs to the arms and shoulders, which can help alleviate knee and ankle problems. I don't have any leg problems (except blisters on my heels at the moment), but I plan to walk a lot this year in preparation for going up a mountain in the fall, and the sticks also help a lot with going up/downhill. Does anyone have any experience or advice on this?
An alternative is also a single staff instead of a pair of poles. It's not as even but can be easier to carry, and let's just face it: I want to use a staff. I actually have 3 at home that I might try to use on hikes, but I'm pretty sure that would end anyone's being willing to hike with me. Can't help it though - it's the only accessory I've ever wanted. Any advice on staff vs. poles?