How to Walk With a Cane
Before you begin walking with your cane, making sure that you have the right cane length for your height is crucial to make sure you get the best assistance possible out of your cane. While wearing regular shoes, hold your arms at your side with a natural bend in your elbows. Have a helper measure the distance from the floor to the area right around your hands. This is the length range that you should look for when shopping for a cane. While you can be exact in your measurements, most modern metal and plastic canes can be adjusted to your ideal height range as necessary, meaning that many times you should look for a cane within your height range, instead of at your exact height.
Walking with a cane is all about giving your weaker leg a bit of added support, so that it can safely stay in stride with your good leg. Your cane should be held in the hand that corresponds with your strong leg. This allows for your weak leg to have the proper amount of support while you are walking. When walking across the floor or any other surface in a straight line, make sure to have your bad leg go first in tandem with the cane. This allows you to tailor your walking speed to any hesitation in your weaker leg, while catching any leeway or weakness in the step with your good leg.
One of the more complicated steps to using a cane is learning how to walk up and down stairs. When you are going to go up a staircase, keep in mind that you will be stepping up first with your good foot. This allows the brunt of the force needed to lift your body up the stairs to be placed on your good leg. Then, make sure you have your hand firmly on the railing of the staircase and move your bad leg up alongside your good leg. In the case of no railing, or non-traditional staircases, you should move your cane to the upper step before moving your bad leg. This allows your weaker leg to have the most support possible when climbing.
When trying to move down a set of stairs, always lead with your bad leg. This allows your body to rest most of your weight on your good leg as you descend, and allows you the largest opportunity to catch yourself if you begin to slip. Much like moving up a set of stairs, moving down relies heavily on the use of the hand railing to help assist you in the process of lowering your bad leg. If there is no railing present, make sure that your cane moves downwards with your bad leg in order to provide some strength to your bad leg.
Canes come in a wide range of styles and types, from more traditional hook handled canes to newer, specially crafted canes with specialized grips to make using a cane for a long time more comfortable. Here are some tips on finding the perfect cane for your individual needs, so that you do not end up putting unnecessary strain on your upper body or back.
Styles of Canes
Canes can come in a large range of types, colors, and specializations, from mobility-based canes to stylistic options, such as decorative skull or bird canes, and outdoorsman canes, such as climbing and hiking canes. The most common form of cane design is the crookneck cane. Known as a classic walking cane, the crookneck cane features a hooked handle for the head, making it easy to drape over the arm when not in use. Crookneck canes are perfect for individuals who use their cane on a somewhat often basis, and are useful for closing doors, opening drawers, pulling bad comedians off the stage, and anything else that can be done or grabbed with a hooked end. While not the most comfortable of grip styles, the crookneck cane is the most commonly known form of cane and is a good starting cane for anyone looking for a little added support.
The derby handle is a simple handle that is made to be easier on your hand and wrist while walking for long distances with your cane. Derby handled canes can come in a wide range of materials, from plastic and wood to more durable metal designs. Derby cane heads often come with the option to customize the size and weight of the cane handle, allowing you to control how large or small your cane head is. The derby handle cane is much more comfortable than the crookneck style of cane for use over long distances, and the slightly curved back end of the handle still allows for some of the same miscellaneous uses offered by the crookneck version.
Palm anatomical handle walking canes are specially designed for individuals with arthritis or other hand issues that may find gripping a curved or knobby cane difficult or impossible. Palm anatomical handle walking canes are often padded and are useful for people who find using a normal cane too stressful on the arm or wrist. They come in both left and right hand versions for the most comfort possible, and can oftentimes be made out a wide range of comfortable fabrics and materials. Many palm anatomical handle walking canes do come in a lighter weight design to make it easier for the individual using the cane to lift them over long distances. The main downside to the palm anatomical handle walking canes are that they cannot be switched from one hand to the other easily, as they are specially crafted for one hand.
Canes with knob handles are most often used for decorative purposes, as they are slightly harder to grip than a curved cane, or for balance purposes, as they usually have a wider design than a traditional cane. Knob handles are often designed to look similar in shape to a doorknob, and are sometimes geared towards being a fashion cane that is outfitted to look like a gem or other decorative item. In some cases, knob handle canes are made with a slightly wider head to allow for a better sense of balance for the individual walking with the cane.
The final cane design we will discuss is the collapsible cane. While collapsible canes are most often designed for outdoors activities such as hiking, many forms of assistive canes now come in collapsible or telescoping designs, making them easier than ever to transport and adjust to the most comfortable height for their user. Telescoping canes are usually made of a lightweight metallic material or a light but durable plastic, and can usually come offered in a wide range of grip options to tailor to the individual’s needs.
When Do I Need a Cane?
If you find yourself in pain while walking, or notice that you are favoring one foot over the other, a cane may be beneficial to you. A cane can be used to take the pressure off of a sore or healing foot or leg, and can make getting from one location to another easier than ever. Canes are also a perfect temporary healing aid to use after a wide range of medical procedures. Things like ACL surgery, hip replacement, or a sprained or broken foot can see a marked decrease in the length of their healing time by using a cane. Along with this, using a cane can help take some of the frustration out of trying to get around during your recovery time. A cane can also benefit the rest of your body, as it can take some of the compensation strain off of your back and other limbs while you walk around.
It may be time to invest in a cane if you find yourself worried about or often falling while walking. While it may not be necessary to walk with a cane if you slip every once and a while, if you find yourself tripping or having to catch yourself on another surface while walking around the house on a regular basis, you may benefit from owning a cane. The added stability of a cane can help drastically reduce your chances of falling, and can help you go about your day to day activities with confidence and safety.
Walking with a cane can also act as a preventative measure, as using a cane can help reduce some of the symptoms of more long-term ailments that can only be corrected by surgery. Things like severe osteoarthritis or strained knee tendons can be treated through the use of a cane, and as such the need for surgery or more intensive treatments for some issues can be reduced drastically over time with the use of a cane. On top of this, using a cane can keep you mobile for a long time, and help you become active and stay active throughout your entire life. If you are avoiding activities due to pain or a fear of falling, a cane can help give you the confidence to continue doing activities that you love to do.
Here is a humorous and informative YouTube video on the proper way to walk with a cane:
While you may be hesitant to invest in a cane, a cane can help you walk easier, painlessly, and with more confidence than ever before. With a wide range of styles, designs, and uses, canes are a crucial walking aid for people looking to take some of the pressure off of themselves while out and about.