Basic Cane Tips: Choosing a Cane and Using it Properly

Using a cane properly is not difficult but there are some important things to consider when buying and using a cane. If you are recovering from an injury, experiencing reduced mobility due to the aging process, or have a chronic condition, this article will help you determine which cane is right for you and how to properly use it. 

There are many canes on the market today. Knowing where to begin requires thinking about your particular health situation and how much your mobility is limited. As a result, you will need to first determine how much assistance you require. To do this, consider that a cane transfers part of your body weight to your wrist and forearm. Canes are not to be used to sustain a large percentage of your body weight; they are designed to help support your balance and reduce some of the load acting on a particular joint, such as your hip, knee, or ankle.

Parts of a Cane

A cane consists of a grip, the shaft (metal, wood or carbon fiber), and the bottom tip which is usually rubber to offer better traction and stability. Single point canes consist of one ferrule; quad canes contain four. If your situation does warrant the need to transfer more weight, a quad cane is more appropriate for this due to its stable base design.

To find the right height, stand straight with your arms at your side. The grip or top of the cane should meet the crease between your hand and forearm. To walk, you will grasp the cane using the hand that is opposite your injured or less mobile side. For example, if you have a bad right ankle, hold the cane with your left hand. As you take a step, you will swing the cane forward, planting it to absorb the part of your weight that is being favoured on your affected side.

For walking outside in slippery weather conditions, an ice grip cane is a great option. The tip contains stainless steel prongs that grip to the ice. Look for the Hugo Ice-O-Grip.

Walking Up and Down Stairs

Canes can be used to help you walk up and down stairs; it just takes some practice and getting used to. To walk up a flight of stairs, grab the banister or railing with the cane in your other hand. Take the first step with your strong leg, then plant your cane, and then step with your injured side.

To walk down stairs, it will be the opposite. Hold the banister. You will plant your cane on the stair below, then step down with your weaker leg, and then follow with your strong leg. Again, this will take some practice to master the technique.

There are a number of types of canes that you can choose from.  

Single Point Canes

A single point cane simply has one point at the end of it.  Single point canes typically come in two styles.  Derby style which has a straight handle which resembles a walking stick and offset which bows out at the front and returns to center your hand over the base of the cane.

Stander offers a unique single point cane that lets you turn it upside down when not in use and the handle converts to a base so that the cane remains upright and you don’t have to bend to pick it up when you’re ready to use it again.  It also has a build in spring mechanism which provides a slight shock absorbtion.

Quad Canes

A Quad Cane has four small feet that are used to give you added support if you’re timid of using a single point cane due to balance.  Quad Canes come in both large base and small base depending on your balance or whether you’re using this during rehabilitation your therapist may recommend one over another.  Large base Quad canes simply extend their legs a little further away from the base of the cane giving you a larger platform and requiring less balance on your part.

Folding Canes

Some canes fold as well.  These typically only come with a Derby handle.  If this is an important feature, check in with the staff at Motion Specialties. Motion Specialties carries a wide assortment of different colour and pattern canes with varying features that can meet your mobility needs.

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