How to know if your walker fits you
A common concern people have is that their walker isn’t fitting them properly. People often come into our stores asking to have handle heights adjusted and while it is quite common for your walker to need adjustments after you have brought it home and during its lifespan, there are times when it’s us and not the walker that need adjustment. What do we mean? Well, sometimes during the assessment phase, when all eyes are on us, we don’t always stand in a normal and relaxed posture. It’s similar to going to the chiropractor; when someone is reviewing our posture, we will attempt to stand straighter and taller in the hopes of appealing to what the doctor wants to see. When we get home however, we relax a little and move differently.
Let’s talk about walkers and then we will explain how to stand and how to adjust your walker if your walker truly isn’t fitting you properly.
Walkers come in different sizes, or heights. They have adjustable arms that allow you to raise or lower the push handles. The height of the seat will vary from person to person and depend on leg strength; tall people with good leg strength sometimes prefer a lower seat, even though they might be measured for a higher one. Shorter individuals might be measured for a low seat, but prefer a taller one because they have bad knees or poor leg strength. For them, the less they have to bend, the better. Generally, however, when sitting on the seat, your feet should be flat on the floor.
The proper fit
A good rule of thumb for knowing if your walker fits you is to stand in front of your walker in a relaxed but upright position. You don’t want to strain to point that you are creating discomfort while standing, but you do want to get better at remaining aware of your posture and striving to improve it. Standing straight, allow your arms to fall loosely at your sides. The top of the push handle should meet at the approximate location of your wrist. If the push handle is closer to your fingertips, the walker is too short and needs to be adjusted. If the push handles are closer to your elbow, the walker is too high. In both cases, you will need to adjust your walker so that it fits your properly (If you have already adjusted it and there is no adjustability left, you might be a new walker).
You also want to be sure that the seat of your walker is proportional to your hip width. You should be able to sit down on your walker and have about an inch space between your hip and the edge of the seat. If your walker is too small, it might create discomfort when you sit down to take a rest. If your walker is too wide, it will take up unnecessary space and possibly create challenges when moving within your living environment.
No matter how high the handles are, my walker still feels too low.
Keep in mind that walkers are not meant to be pushed in front of you like a shopping cart. Otherwise if you stumble the walker can push forward and you could fall. When you walk with your walker you should be standing in next to the seat. Often people feel like the handles on their walker are too low but when you stand properly next to it you’ll find those handles are higher than you thought. I always suggest standing next to the walker with arms at your side and to look for the handles to be at wrist-watch height. If they line up with your watch you should be good to go!
Adjusting your walker
Many walkers, such as the Nexus, have two adjustable knobs positioned about halfway between the push handles and the wheels. You will use these knobs to adjust the height of the push handles. Simply turn the knob in a counter clockwise position until it unscrews completely. Set it down somewhere safe. Now you will remove the screw that was fastened into the knob. Perform this action on both sides of the walker. Otherwise, trying to adjust one side of the walker without removing the knob on the other side will create tension and make it difficult for you to make the proper adjustment.
Now that you have removed the black knobs and screws, you are free to raise or lower the handles so that the push handles are at your wrist when you are standing in a relaxed but upright position. The holes along the vertical tubes of the walker are generally spaced about a half inch to an inch apart. Find your desired height, re-fasten the screw into the knob, and test it.
If you have any questions about how to adjust your walker or whether you qualify for a new one, please contact your local vendor.