Walking Cane or Stick

So you are feeling ready to move on to a walking cane? Great!

You've said bye to the Zimmer frame and farewell to using crutches and are poised to move on to the final type of walking aid.


But first things first; there is a difference in terminology used in USA and UK. In the UK a walking stick and cane are the same thing. In the USA a walking stick will normally refer to a much longer pole which is held half way down its length and is not primarily designed for weight support. Here we only talk about the shorter type of cane or stick.

How do I Adjust my Walking Cane?

Whoever supplied you with your walking cane or walking stick should have ensured that it was the correct height for you.

To check: with your arms hanging loosely by your side the top of the cane should be at wrist height.

If you have a metal cane it will be adjustable. If you have a wooden one you may need to saw a bit off the bottom to shorten it. However if it is already too short then you will need to exchange it for another.

How do I use it

  • Move your good leg
  • Move the cane/stick and your affected leg together distributing the weight between them
  • Repeat!

Tackling the Stairs

This advise is the same for people using canes, walking sticks or crutches

Please be careful using stairs. In particular do not attempt to carry anything in your hands apart from your walking cane or crutches. (I managed to fall on the stairs twice in two months attempting to carry things!) See below for advice.

  • Hold on to the banister with one hand and keep your walking aid in the other
  • The walking aid will always be used at the same time as your affected
  • When going downstairs move your affected leg and walking aid first - then follow with your good leg
  • When climbing upstairs move your good leg first then your affected leg and walking aid together

Remember: Good leg to heaven, bad leg to hell

Sitting Down

This advise is the same for people using walking canes, walking sticks or crutches

  • Make sure that the seat is the right height, is stable and has good arms that you can grip.
  • Ensure the chair is close behind you.
  • Put your walking aids in one hand or lean them against a wall or anything handy (just make sure you can reach them for when you want to get up again)
  • Hold the arm/s of the chair and as you lower yourself down place your affected leg forward so it can remain straight and non-weight-bearing.

Standing Up

This advise is the same for people using canes, walking sticks or crutches

  • Do NOT use the walking aid to haul yourself out of the chair - that is very unstable
  • Hold you walking aid/s in one hand
  • Push yourself up from the chair using the chair's arm
  • Transfer one stick/cane/crutch into each hand (if using two)
  • Put the walking aid/s out slightly in front of you and pause to ensure you are solidly balanced.

Carrying things

This advise is the same for people using canes, walking sticks or crutches

It is hard to carry anything in your hand when using one stick and pretty well impossible when using two of them. The best solution is to wear an apron with large pockets or to get a bag with a wide opening and sling it across your shoulders. A back pack is also useful but I found it hard to get on and off without unbalancing myself. A fanny pack is useful for smaller items.

Beyond the norm!

If you are going to use a cane or walking stick for any real length of time then take a bit of time to find one that really suits you. I don't just mean in terms of the grip and height but in the material it is made from and the "extras" it might have.

Might seem strange but yes something as simple as a walking cane can come with extras - such as a seat

My favourite was my folding one. It always surprised people when I got off my motorbike and hobbled around to the top box to get out my spring-loaded self-straightening walking stick before limping off to the shops.

If you're into self defence then a mace cane, a sword stick or a walking can gun might be more your style though the latter is hard to find nowadays.

Sticks and canes come in a wide range of materials hard woods, soft woods, bamboo or metal. The wooden are often carved into amazing designs - anything from a sweet floral bouquet to a death's head.

Think of your cane, not simply as a mobility aid, but as part of your fashion statement!

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