Out of Africa - made in Scotland

Inspired by African tribesmen, the Masai Pole is an unusual fusion of practicality and therapy.

Its inventor Kate Adamson claims, when carried over the shoulders, the pole helps maintain good posture and relieve stress from the lower back. It also doubles up as a walking stick.

An interest in hillwalking prompted Kate to develop the flexible stick inspired by the Masai tribe in Africa as a support while walking. For maximum benefit the pole is carried on the shoulders with the arms dropped over the ends. This position also assists in toning the upper body, Kate adds.

''The benefits of the Masai Pole can be seen by observing the African tribes, such as the Masai, who when walking use a wooden stick in the same manner and display better posture and elegance than the average Westerner,'' she said.

Therapeutic but fun, the Masai Pole is a unique concept and essential for those who enjoy walking and want to maintain a healthy posture while relieving stress from the lower back, claims Kate who once lived in Africa.

''When you're walking, your lower body gets the most benefit, but the Masai Pole helps you to straighten up your upper body, improving your posture and your breathing technique. It was born out of necessity and frustration as there are so many people with really bad posture, she continued.

''The Masai had the most wonderful posture with many of them carrying a wooden stick across their shoulders keeping them upright. I had tried to do the same with a regular walking stick but it was too heavy.

''I wanted to adapt the idea using a light, flexible pole which 'gave' as I walked and didn't put pressure on my back,'' Kate added.

The Masai Pole is made from PVC and nylon and weighs in at less than 500 grams. In addition to the main pole, there are moulded rubber grips at each end with a leather hand strap at one end. In the centre of the pole a length of foam means the pole rests comfortably against the back of the neck.

Walking Masai-style is surprisingly comfortable and does encourage you to keep a straight back so hopefully long term use will tone up a few muscles and relieve a few aches and pains. As a walking stick, the Masai Pole is perhaps a little too flexible, compared with conventional poles, but is fine when walking on the flat. The rubber stop at the end doesn't grip as well as a pointed stick on surfaces like loose gravel and wet rock, but it does work well over grass and moor or on hard surfaces. The rubber end also avoids the scraping of conventional poles that leaves rocks marked and it should cause less erosion on paths.

The Masai pole - available in two lengths - costs £19.99 from outdoor shops. For more info, contact Com Marketing, Vine House, Craigengillan, Ayrshire, KA6 7PZ. Tel 01292 550051.