Canes are essential but straightforward walking support tools that can help anyone with limited mobility, no matter the reason. Whether you are recovering from surgery and need a cane to help you get around for a short period or you are looking for a long-term solution to your mobility issues, choosing the right cane, and knowing how to use it properly, is vital.
The first choice to be made is between a single-tip or quad cane.
These are the two basic cane styles: The single-tip cane is best for balance. If you can easily support your body weight, but need a cane to help you balance and to prevent falls, this is the one for you. Its small base makes it easier to carry around and store.
A four-pronged cane, also known as a quad cane, is best when you need to lean into your mobility aid and put a significant amount of weight on it.
If you aren’t sure which one you should use, speak to your doctor, surgeon, or physical therapist. Canes are also made with a variety of grips. Try several to find one that feels most comfortable for you. Also, consider a folding cane to make traveling easier.
Properly using your cane.
Until you need to use one, it may seem that walking with a cane is easy and self-explanatory, but there are some essential things to consider:
- Be sure to walk with the cane on the opposite side of your weak/injured leg. If you are only using the cane for balance, experiment with which side feels more comfortable.
- Before you begin using your cane, be sure that you have adjusted it to be an appropriate length for you. Hang your arm down at your side. The top of the cane should come to your wrist.
- When you hold the grip with the tip of the cane flat on the ground, you should have a small, but comfortable bend in your elbow.
- When walking with your cane, remember to look forward and not down at your feet. Swing your cane forward at the same time that you step forward with the opposite leg. Place the cane down on the ground at the same distance from you as your opposite foot.
- If you are using the cane because of a weakness in your opposite leg, lean on it to take the pressure off as you swing your stronger leg forward. When turning, pivot on your stronger leg.
- When going upstairs, lead with your stronger leg. When going down, place your cane on the lower step first. Grasp the railing with your free hand.
Your cane should have a rubber tip or tips on the bottom, which are essential for gripping surfaces. Quality cane tips will give you traction and keep your cane from slipping. Check them regularly to see if they have worn down. When they have worn out and are no longer gripping, you can get replacement tips and change them out quickly.
When you choose your cane carefully for style, height, and comfort, you will have a useful mobility tool to help you get around and keep you safe. Take care when walking with your new cane and make sure you are using it correctly for maximum mobility and to avoid injury.