If you have trouble keeping your balance or walking with a smooth gait, a walking cane can help you get around easier. Sometimes walking canes are prescribed by doctors or recommended by healthcare practitioners, and sometimes patients decide to start using a walking cane on their own. Here are some tips for choosing the right walking cane for you.
If the walking cane is only for helping you keep your balance, a standard wooden or aluminum cane is the best choice. These walking canes are lightweight and provide an extra point of contact with the ground, which gives you a larger base of support for keeping your balance.
If you need a walking cane to bear weight—either for an injury, recovery from surgery, or to ease arthritic hip or knee pain—then an offset cane will provide the stability you need. The offset handle allows you to lean more weight onto the cane’s shaft. For significant weight bearing, look for a quad cane. An offset quad cane provides four extra points of contact with the ground and can hold more weight than a single-point cane.
Most aluminum canes are adjustable. Wooden canes are not. Before you purchase a walking cane, ask someone to measure the distance from the crease of your wrist to the ground, with your arm hanging down by your side. Make sure the walking cane you buy is adjustable to this height.
Using a walking cane improperly can disrupt your walking gait. The cane should support your natural gait, not throw you off balance. Bring the cane forward with your weak or injured leg. Move the two forward together as if they were a unit.
Use the cane for support if you need it, but don’t hold the cane grip backwards or lean your weight excessively into the cane. If you need more support than a cane can provide, consider using a walker or rollator.