Helpandwellness.com is reader supported. At no extra cost to you, if you buy through any of our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Starting to walk with a walking cane can mean a big change in life style for some people. Using a cane to walk can give one independence and reduce one’s reliance on other people for support. If you have wondered how do you walk with a cane, we have the answer for you.
Get a Cane with Proper Height
Before you begin walking with a walking cane, make sure that you have the right cane length for your height. This can be the single most important part of starting to walk with a cane.
To determine the right cane length, 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 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 as necessary, meaning that many times you should look for a cane within a length range, instead of at the exact measured length.
How do you walk with a cane – Starting to Walk
For the most part, walking with a cane allows you to take the weight off the weaker or injured leg. You should hold your cane in the hand that is opposite to the leg which needs support. This will be much better than holding your cane in the hand that is on the same side where your leg needs support. When walking across the floor or any other surface in a straight line, make sure to have your weaker (or injured) leg go first, in tandem with the cane. This allows you to adjust your speed of walking to the current capacity of your weaker leg. It is important to try out the cane in safe surroundings for the first time.
One of the more complicated steps to using a walking 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 bulk 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 weaker 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 best 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 support you in the process of lowering your bad leg. If there is no railing present, make sure that your cane moves downwards with your weaker leg in order to provide support to your weaker leg.
Canes come in a wide variety of styles and types. They can range from the more traditional hook handled canes to newer, specially crafted canes with specialized grips that can make it more comfortable to use a cane for long periods of time. Here are some tips on finding the perfect cane for your specific needs, so that you do not end up putting unnecessary strain on your upper body or back.
Styles of Canes
Walking canes can come in a variety of types, colors, and specializations. They can range from mobility-based canes to stylistic canes such as those with a decorative skull or birds on the handle to outdoors canes, such as climbing and hiking canes.
The most common form of walking 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 people who use their cane on often. They can even be useful for closing doors, opening drawers, pulling a bad comedian off the stage (ok, we are joking here :) ), 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 form of cane and is a good starting cane for anyone looking for a little added support.
Derby Handle Walking Cane
The derby handle walking cane is a cane with a simple handle that is easier on your hand and wrist while walking long distances with your cane. Derby handled canes come in a wide variety 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. Its slightly curved back end of the handle also allows for some of the same miscellaneous uses offered by the crookneck version, including pulling a bad comedian off the stage :)
Offset Handle Walking Cane
An offset handle walking cane’s handle is offset from the main shaft. This makes sure that when you grip the cane, your weight is aligned directly to the shaft and goes straight to the rubber end of the walking stick. Like other walking sticks, these can have comfort grip handles. Some even come with gel strips to alleviate the pressure that comes with constant holding of a walking stick.
Palm Anatomical Handle Walking Cane
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 to provide the most comfort possible. The handle itself can oftentimes be made out a wide range of comfortable fabrics and materials, giving one the option of choosing what is the most comfortable. Many palm anatomical handle walking canes come in a light weight design to make it easier for them to be used over long distances or for extended periods of time. 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.
Knob Handle Walking Cane
Canes with knob handles are most often used for aesthetic purposes. They can be slightly harder to grip than a curved cane. They can at best be used to provide a bit of additional balance. Knob handle canes usually have a wider design than a traditional cane. Knob handles are often designed to look similar in shape to a doorknob. They are mostly geared towards being a fashion cane that is outfitted to look like a gem or other decorative item.
Collapsible Walking Cane
The final walking cane design we will discuss is the collapsible or foldable walking 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. This makes 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 usually come in a wide range of grip options to meet the user’s specific 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 walking 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. Walking 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 walking cane if it is likely that you may fall while walking. While it may not be necessary to walk with a cane but if you slip every once and a while or if you find yourself tripping or having to support 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 walking 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 helped through the use of a cane, and the need for surgery or more intensive treatments for some issues may be reduced if one can timely start using a walking cane. Moreover, 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.