What Occupations Utilize Stilts?

Quck answer

Stilts are used in various jobs to provide workers with additional height and reach. Some of the jobs that use stilts include:

1. Construction: Stilts are commonly used by construction workers, especially in tasks such as drywall installation, painting, and ceiling work. They allow workers to reach high areas without the need for scaffolding or ladders.

2. Entertainment: Stilts are frequently used by performers in circus acts, street performances, and theatrical shows. They add a visual spectacle and enhance the performers’ presence.

3. Event planning: Stilt walkers are often hired for special events, festivals, and parades to entertain the crowd and create a vibrant atmosphere.

4. Stilt fishing: In some coastal regions, stilts are used by fishermen to stand above the water and cast their nets or lines. This traditional method is practiced in places like Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

5. Firefighting: Firefighters may use specialized stilts to gain a better vantage point during rescue operations or to navigate through flooded areas.

Overall, stilts are versatile tools that find applications in various industries, including construction, entertainment, event planning, fishing, and firefighting.

Have you ever encountered a situation where you couldn’t reach something? It happens to most people! Maybe you desired the cookies on the highest shelf. Or perhaps your frisbee got stuck on a tree branch. In such scenarios, many individuals resort to using a step stool or ladder to get closer to their desired object.

However, alternative solutions do exist. Instead of relying on a ladder, some people opt to practice with another device that elevates them higher off the ground. What are we referring to? Stilts, of course!

What exactly are stilts? They are long poles that people stand on to walk at a considerable height above the ground. These stilts are strapped to their feet, allowing them to walk while towering over others. You may have witnessed entertainers walking on stilts during a parade or at the circus. But did you know that stilts are used in many other occupations?

The history of stilts dates back thousands of years, all the way to the 6th century B.C.E. In the Landes region of France, shepherds utilized tchangues (known in English as “big legs”) made of wood. These stilts were approximately five feet tall and helped the shepherds move more easily across the marshy ground of the area.

By walking on stilts, shepherds were able to keep an eye on their sheep and spot any approaching predators from a distance. Over generations, the people of Landes learned to walk on tchangues. Some became so skilled that they could walk and even run long distances. In 1891, a native of Landes named Sylvain Dornon walked all the way from Paris, France to Moscow, Russia on stilts!

Shepherding is not the only occupation that has utilized stilts. In Sri Lanka, some fisherfolk are known to stand on stilts while fishing. This practice originated after World War II, when there was a shortage of both food and boats in the area. People planted wooden stilts in the sand and stood on them to fish. Today, a few fishers continue the tradition of stilt fishing.

Currently, stilts are widely used in the construction industry. They are particularly useful when installing drywall. Instead of constantly climbing up and down a ladder, workers can move around on stilts, allowing them to reach the ceiling or upper part of a wall more easily.

Lastly, stilt walking is sometimes part of a performer’s job. Stilt walkers are commonly seen in parades and circuses, but they can also be found at festivals and birthday parties. They bring a unique form of entertainment to a wide range of events.

Have you ever tried walking on stilts? Are you interested in learning? If so, we have a holiday just for you. July 27th is Walk On Stilts Day! What better time to give stilt walking a try?

Give It a Shot

Excited to continue learning? Try out the enjoyable activities below with the assistance of an adult friend or family member.

  • If you want to learn how to walk on stilts, you can start by making your own tin can stilts. Make sure to have an adult help you and check the supply list before you begin. Then, have fun practicing walking on your new stilts!
  • Discover more about the tradition of Sri Lankan stilt fishing. What aspects of this practice do you find interesting? Share what you have learned with a friend or family member.
  • Aside from the jobs mentioned, can you think of other uses for stilts? Make a list of tasks that might be easier to do on stilts. Afterwards, discuss your ideas with a friend or family member. Can they come up with any additional uses for stilts?

Sources of Wonder

  • https://www.npr.org/2011/12/07/143276985/a-birds-eye-history-of-walking-on-stilts (accessed 21 Oct. 2020)
  • https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/stilt-fishing-in-sri-lanka (accessed 21 Oct. 2020)
  • https://www.alstapingtools.com/blog/why-you-need-drywall-stilts-and-how-to-use-them (accessed 21 Oct. 2020)
  • https://mashable.com/2016/08/13/stilt-shepherds-landes/ (accessed 21 Oct. 2020)
  • https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/walk-on-stilts-day/ (accessed 21 Oct. 2020)
  • https://www.thebillfold.com/2017/11/how-i-got-this-job-stilt-walker/ (accessed 22 Oct. 2020)


1. What jobs require the use of stilts?

There are several jobs that require the use of stilts. One example is the entertainment industry, where stilt walkers perform at events and festivals. Stilt walking adds height and uniqueness to their performances, making them stand out in a crowd. Another job where stilts are commonly used is in construction. Construction workers may use stilts to work at heights, allowing them to reach areas that are otherwise difficult to access. Additionally, some window cleaners and painters use stilts to reach high windows or ceilings. Stilts can also be useful for firefighters during rescue missions, enabling them to reach victims in elevated areas.

2. Are there any jobs in the sports industry that use stilts?

Yes, there are jobs in the sports industry that utilize stilts. Stilt acrobats and performers are often seen in circuses or other athletic shows, where they showcase their skills and entertain the audience. Stilt walking can also be a part of certain sports events, such as parades or halftime shows, where athletes perform stunts on stilts to captivate the spectators. Additionally, stilt racing is a popular sport in some regions, where participants compete in races while wearing stilts. These sports not only require physical agility but also the ability to maintain balance and coordination on stilts.

3. Are there any medical professions that use stilts?

While stilts may not be commonly used in medical professions, there are some instances where they can be helpful. Physical therapists may occasionally incorporate stilt walking into their therapy sessions to assist patients in improving balance, coordination, and muscle strength. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who require rehabilitation after certain injuries or surgeries. Stilts can also be used in orthopedics for gait training, helping patients regain mobility and learn to walk again. However, it is important to note that the use of stilts in medical professions is not widespread and is typically only used in specialized cases.

4. How do stilt walkers maintain their balance?

Stilt walkers maintain their balance by employing several techniques. Firstly, they rely on the construction of the stilts themselves. Stilts are typically designed with a wide base and sturdy foot platforms, providing stability and support. Additionally, stilt walkers often use long poles or canes to help them maintain balance and distribute their weight evenly. They also utilize their core muscles and engage in constant small adjustments to counterbalance any shifts in weight. Practice and experience play a crucial role in mastering the art of stilt walking and maintaining balance while performing various movements and tricks.

5. What are the benefits of using stilts in construction work?

The use of stilts in construction work offers several benefits. Firstly, it allows workers to access higher areas without the need for ladders or scaffolding, saving time and effort. Stilts also provide greater mobility compared to other elevated work platforms, as they are lightweight and easy to move around. This enables workers to navigate tight or confined spaces more efficiently. Furthermore, stilts offer a stable and secure work platform, reducing the risk of accidents or falls. They also provide workers with better visibility and reach, allowing them to perform tasks with greater precision and accuracy.

6. Are there any safety precautions to consider when using stilts?

Yes, there are several safety precautions to consider when using stilts. It is important to ensure that the stilts are properly adjusted and secured before use, with the correct height and tightness for the individual user. Stilt walkers and workers should always wear appropriate footwear that provides good traction and support. Regular maintenance and inspection of the stilts are also necessary to identify any wear and tear or potential issues. Additionally, individuals using stilts should be mindful of their surroundings and avoid uneven or slippery surfaces. Proper training and practice are essential to develop the necessary skills and techniques for safe stilt walking or working at heights.

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