What is the Difference Between a Walking Stick and Cane?

Should I use a walking stick instead of a cane? Actually what is the difference between a walking stick and a cane and how long should my walking cane be? These important questions are best answered prior to purchase otherwise you could be putting yourself at risk of falls, strains, aches and pains.

Many people who use canes or walkers are using them incorrectly or are using the wrong cane or cane size. Transfer of pressure from a incorrectly sized cane can lead to neck and shoulder muscle tension and headaches.

Canes and Walking Sticks: Is There A Difference?walking sticks and canes

These terms are often used inter-changeably but essentially walking canes are for support and balance whereas walking sticks are mainly for balance.

Both are mobility devices and used in activities of daily living with increasing popularity in exercise walking activities and can be found in the article, walking sticks for hiking.

Here we look at the various styles of a walking stick and cane, when they are used and how long should a walking cane be.

Getting a Handle on Canes and Sticks

Canes and walking sticks are also often distinguished by the shape of the handle. Choices made on the type and shape of handle of the stick or cane will be for comfort for use or about style for a particular look or feel.

  • The handle can be J-shaped (commonly referred to as a tourist walking stick) or T-shaped (called a Derby or Melbourne cane).
  • A cane with a Fritz handle is especially suitable for people with arthritis due to its uneven T-shaped handle that provides a better grip.Walking canes
  • The Fischer cane has a molded grip that follows the contour of the palm and is comfortable for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.
  • Canes with ornamental knob handles or metallic cap-stick handles are less function, more fashion, often featuring elaborate designs and fine craftsmanship.
  • Thumb-stick canes with Y-shaped grooved handles are popular with hikers.

Purpose of Walking Canes and Sticks

A cane or walking stick is the least cumbersome of all mobility aids. It provides support and improves balance, but its weight-bearing capacity is limited. A quad cane has four small legs and offers the most stability. Collapsible canes are sturdy enough for daily use, but fold quickly for easy transportation and storage.

Understanding the function of a walking stick or cane and using it correctly will help you derive maximum benefit.

mens walking canes

Choosing the Right Cane and Walking Stick

1. Canes for balance

Selecting a cane based solely on your height is not sufficient. Many other factors should influence your decision, including your body weight, your arm and torso size, and the reason why you need the cane – support versus balance.

2. Cane for Support

If you are going to use a cane for balance, you will probably not require a heavy duty one as it does not need to support your entire body weight. On the other hand, if you have suffered an injury or disability that requires you to keep the weight off a limb, then the cane’s weight guidelines (petite, regular, or extra strength) should direct your choice.

The weight-bearing capacity of the cane is typically indicated on the product in pounds (lbs). To help with balance, single-point canes work well. To support weight, quad-tip canes are more appropriate.

3. Cane for Comfort of Use

Many people find they have to experiment with the grip of a cane before finding the right fit.

walking stick height

With experience, you may find that the most popular Derby handle offers you the maximum comfort.

As discussed above, the Fritz handle is designed for arthritis sufferers who find they can hold it with the least amount of pain in the hand and fingers.

Ergonomic handles are contoured for people with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Palm grip handles for the left or right hand offer a comfortable fit by conforming to the natural shape of the hand. Offset handles are used following injuries.

The tourist handle or shepherd’s hook style offers convenience in that the cane can be rested on the arm when not in use.

How Long Should a Walking Cane Be?

The correct length is easily measured in 5 easy steps:

  1. Find someone to help you with the measurements.
  2. Wear the footwear you most commonly use.
  3. Stand upright with a relaxed stance on a hard surface.
  4. Slightly bend the elbow of the hand in which you’ll hold the cane at a 15-20 degree angle.
  5. Find the base of your wrist where it joins your hand (just below the bony prominence on the outer aspect of your wrist), have someone measure from there to the floor.

A cane that is too long can be awkward and may place a strain on your muscles. A cane that is too short may have you listing to one side, putting you at risk for a fall. It is a good idea to order a cane that is 1-2 inches longer than your measured length to allow some adjustment leeway.

If you’re walking cane is a non-adjustable or a fixed length and the vendor does not offer customization, then you will need to cut the cane yourself remembering that canes can be shortened but not lengthened. It is wise to cut about 1/2 an inch longer than your measured length, check for comfort, and then make the final cut.

The other way around this is to purchase an adjustable cane, that is one where the length of the cane that can be lengthened or shortened without loss at any time. There are there many canes today that offer this option in one form or another.

Walking Correctly with a Walking stick or Cane

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Consult your health care provider or physiotherapist to evaluate your individual situation and give you specific instructions on the correct way to hold and walk with a cane.

As a general guideline, however, a cane is held in the hand opposite to the injured side. This helps to reduce weight on the injured knee or hip, for example, while still exercising the recovering limb. To optimize your walking, ensure that the cane touches the ground at the same time as the foot of the injured side.

A cane can be held in either hand (typically the dominant hand) of an individual using it for balance. For best results, you should practice walking so that the cane and the opposite foot hit the ground together.

Professional Help Using Canes for Support

Consult your health care provider or physiotherapist to evaluate your individual situation and give you specific instructions on the correct way to hold and walk with a cane. Some conditions associated with nerve and muscle dysfunction, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), are examples when it is appropriate to hold the cane on the same side as the weakness. In these situations, the cane prevents falls by catching the person mid-step but here it is recommended to seek professional help and guidance in correct walking cane type and use. When the cane is held on the weaker side, it is essential to avoid hobbling in order to prevent undue stress on the shoulders and lower back.

What is the Difference Between a Walking Stick and Cane?

A walking aid increases independence, improves mobility, enhances safety, and strengthens stability, but only when it is sized, fitted, and used correctly. Understanding the purpose of the walking stick or cane and knowing what is the difference between a walking stick and cane, will help find the right one for you.

Rollator Walker Accessories

Rollator Walker Accessories

4 wheel rollator accessoriesOnce you’ve figured out the best mobility device for you, you’ll be happy to learn that there is a wide range of walker accessories available to personalize your rollator and make it as unique as you are.

These accessories offer both function and safety and allow you to make the best use of your new mobility aid. Some of these accessories are a standard feature with a particular type or brand of rollator, while others offer you some customization.

Without the necessary walker accessories, your rollator is essentially like a cake without sugar. Choosing the right accessories to personalize your rollator will accentuate its basic function and make life so much easier.

Rollator Walker Brakes

Rollator walkers come with the brake system in place best suited to the type and action of the rollator. There are a number of different types of brake systems, some will suit you better than the others. The brakes on your rollator help you stay in control and should be quick and easy to engage. We will go through some of the different brake types here to understand how the different types work.

1. Push-down brakes feature a spring-loaded frame and are engaged by the application of downward pressure. This type of brake is the easiest to operate because simply leaning on the frame interrupts rolling of the rear wheels and halts movement. However, push-down brakes may require enough strength such that frail or petite users cannot operate them.
2. Cable loop brakes resemble those on bicycles. These brakes engage when the brake levers are squeezed simultaneously with both hands. Although they are more stable, cable loop brakes must be used carefully in light of their instant braking action.
3. Locking brakes are a must have feature on any wheeled mobility device with a seat. These enable the brake to be locked so that constant pressure or grip does not need to be maintained to keep the rollator from sliding away when the user is seated.
4. Slow-down brakes are essential if you intend to use your rollator on hilly terrain. These brakes control the rollator on inclined surfaces by increasing the tension in the wheels to prevent the device from getting away or gathering too much speed.
5. Single-hand brakes are suitable for people with one side much stronger than the opposite (such as following a stroke), and they allow the user to engage the brake with one hand.

Rollator handle Gripsrollator with seat

The handles are where the user grips the rollator. Some models are adjustable and allow the user to select the height and angle of the handles.

Wedge-shaped hand grips are ergonomically designed to be gentle on your hands and wrists and accommodate all hand positions and hand sizes.

For people who are above-average height, some rollators feature tall handle models to prevent strain on the neck and back from leaning forward at an awkward angle. In general, it is always better to purchase a rollator with a handle and grip that is individually adaptable.

People with post-stroke weakness may find special hemiplegic handles permit them to better control their rollator. Anatomical handles are available to alleviate stress and strain on the wrist.

Pouches, Tote Bags, and Baskets

Whether you’re out and about or you’re using your rollator indoors, one essential walker accessory is a pouch, tote bag, or basket, to allow you carry things and remain hands-free. This is not only a convenient way to carry your belongings, but enhances your safety by allowing you to grip the rollator securely.

If you routinely need to fold your rollator for storage or transport, a tote bag might be the more appropriate accessory for you because a basket often needs to be removed from the device before it can be folded. If your needs are limited, a pouch or side caddy may suffice.

However, if you have substantial things to carry with you, an under-seat shopping bag or wired basket may just do the trick. Backpack-style front bags with zippers and pockets are also available to personalise your rollator and greatly increase storage space. Durable vinyl folding walker bags featuring Velcro straps can be easily attached and removed from your rollator frame.

When choosing the storage walker accessory for your rollator, assess your individual needs and choose the one that is easy to access, easy to clean, and fastens securely onto the device.

Cane, Fishing Pole, and Umbrella Holders

walkers for seniors with seat

It’s quite likely that you will need a cane to complement your rollator.

A cane holder allows you to take your cane wherever you go and keeps the stick in place, leaving you hands-free. If purchased separately, the cane holder kit should include brackets, screws, and clamps for easy installation and should give you easy access to your cane. The simplest accessories are snap-on cane holders that use two opposite-facing hooks to secure your cane in place.

Make sure the cane or fishing pole holder fits your rollator before you personalize your walker with one of these. Fishing pole holders are designed for easily insertion and removal of the rod and one-hand operation of the reel.

An umbrella holder can be very useful in inclement weather, but ensure that it fits the frame of your rollator snugly and does not rattle when you’re on the move.

Cup and Cell Phone Holders and Serving Trays

These are perhaps the most common walker accessories that people personalize their rollators wiRollator accessoriesth is a flip-up cup holder folds down when not in use. Before you buy a cup holder for your rollator, make sure it adjusts to hold cups of different sizes. If you like your coffee on-the-go, ensure that the cup holder has a cut out for the mug handle to fit through. A swivel cup holder swings out of the way while keeping beverage contents level.

You may choose a combination cell phone and drink holder if that suits your purpose. A reversible top ring is useful as it permits both left and right-handed use. Choose a cup holder that meets your needs and is made of durable material.

If you routinely transport food and drink around your home, a serving tray that fits on the rollator’s seat may be what you need.

Walker Seat Covers and Accessories

A great way to add personality to your rollator and improve comfort is by choosing seat covers and accessories.

A backrest for the seat can be very useful, as can a cushion set for both the seat and backrest. Available in a variety of patterns and designs, with these walker accessories you can showcase your style and also quickly identify your rollator walker in crowded places.

When selecting a seat cushion or backrest, make sure that it is adequately padded, made of a soft material, and that it can be easily removed and washed.

walker with seat

Miscellaneous Walker Accessories

There are several walker accessories that will allow you to personalize your walker and add to its functionality.

  • Forward-facing flashlights are useful for navigating dark spaces.
  • Kerb climbers on the wheels help with tilting the rollator to negotiate obstacles like street kerbs.
  • If you are oxygen-dependent, an oxygen tank holder will allow you to take your tank with you, but this may need to replace the basket on your rollator.
  • Wheel guards work like mud flaps and protect you from splatters.
  • Personal computer/tablet caddies, eyeglass cases, and phone cases can all be added to your rollator to easily carry these items when you’re out and about.
  • Height adjustable IV poles, ankle prompts for users with poor motor control, forearm attachments, and vertical hand grips are all specialize accessories that anticipate the needs of every user.
  • It is also possible to purchase replacement wheels, rubber grips, and brake levers for your device.

Rollator Walker Accessories

walker accessories
As you can see, there is are plenty of walker accessories available to personnalize your rollator walker so you have those important items to hand. It is up to you to choose the ones to fully equip yourself for the places you like to go and for what you need to do.

Additional References:



Nine Top Tips For Best Walker Rollator

Nine Top Tips For Best Walker Rollator

You need a rollator walker and you’re after some information how to find the best frame, handle and wheel combination Top tips for best walker rollatorto keep safely active and getting on with life. You are in a good place to find that solution with our 9 top tips for best walker rollator for you.

All walker rollators have a  frame, handles and wheels in a variety of styles, combinations and options to suit your mobility and support needs.

Before we present the 9 top tips for best walker rollator, it’s important to understand that some walker rollators offer more support but less mobility while others focus on mobility and flexibility, allowing more diversity for use.

So your decision will be based on how active you are and where you wish to use the walker rollator.

With that in mind look read on through the following 9 top tips for best rollator walker to inform yourself of how to choose a walker knowing what to look for and know the options to consider before buying a mobility device.

How is a walker different from a rollator walker?

A walker is simply a metal frame (typically aluminum or steel) with a handle and legs, and sometiwalking frame with 2 wheels mes have 2 small wheels at the front.

A rollator is a walker with three or four wheels, a handle, and often with hand-operated brakes. On account of the wheels, rollators are more agile than walkers, making them suitable for people who can walk well but have impaired balance and stability.

Rollators with seats are great for active walkers as they offer the user an option to sit when tired when out and about.  Also they often feature other other useful options including a storage area to put those items one would normally carry.

On the other hand, for people who cannot bear weight on one or both lower extremities (for example, following hip surgery or injury); a walker may be more appropriate.  To help assess the question, have a look through our article, Do I need  a walking stick, cane or walker, which has some questions to ask yourself which may might help with your decision.

Sometimes it may be necessary for a person to use a combination of both, a rollator outdoors and a walker or cane within the home and a therapist can assist with these decisions.

9 Top Tips For Best Rollator Walker

1. Place of Use: Indoors vs. Outdoors

Rollators have wheels and this makes them particularly useful for long trips and for use outdoors on uneven terrain where a walker is a slower device, more for support and not a mobile. Indoors, a rollator walker may be too wide to fit through doorways or navigate narrow halls.

So our first important tip in the 9 top tips for best walker rollator is to decide where the walker will be mainly used and for what sort of activities.

2. Rollator Type (3 or 4 Wheels): Mobility vs. Stability

This section is about what you need most from your mobility aid, is it predominately support or mobility and where you want to use it.

3 Wheel Rollator Walker

Three-wheeled rollators, which are shaped like a tricycle, offer better mobility on account of being lighter, narrower, and having a tighter turning radius. These models usually fold easily for transport and are easy to maneuver.

4 wheeled Rollator Walker

3 wheel rollator walker

Four-wheeled rollators offer superior stability and may come equipped with a seat. These models feature higher weight capacities for bariatric users. If you weigh more than is considered normal or your major concern is a lack of stability when you walk, go for a four-wheeled model.

However, if you feel your balance is good and you simply need a safety net when you’re out and about, or if you will use the rollator indoors, a three-wheeled model may be perfect for you.

3. Frame Size Considerations: Width vs. Weight Support

Your body body build and constitution will also determine your choice of rollator. Lightweight aluminum frames may not offer enough stability or have the weight capacity to support people weighing more than 250 lbs, for whom a heavy-duty steel rollator with four wheels may be more appropriate.walker rollator with seat

In addition to the recommended user weight capacity, the rollator’s own weight is important if you will need to routinely transport it in a car or carry it up a flight of stairs.

The rollator walker frame size will also be a consideration in relation to where this device is to used. If indoors, some four-wheeled rollators tend to be wider than 22 inches, the width of a standard bathroom door, great for outdoors but their use indoors in small spaces may be limited.

4. Wheel Size Options: Large vs. Small

Wheels come in a varity of styles and sizes. Wheels with a diameter of 8 inches or more are considered large, and these allow the rollator to be pushed easily over uneven surfaces and more sturdy for this type of activity.

Smaller wheels are more suitable if you plan to predominantly use the rollator indoors as they are much easier to maneuver in tight spaces. If your are frail you will want something light and easy to move about your home.

5. Frame Structure and Size: Adjustable vs. Fixed

Every walker and rollator comes with a manufacturer recommended height range. For optimum comfort, it’s a good idea to purchase a device for which you fall somewhere in the middle of the suggested range. A rollator with an adjustable height will allow you to fine tune your mobility device based on your footwear and the surface you’re walking on.

6. Seat Type: Adjustable vs. Fixed and Padded vs. Plain

Our next tip in the list of 9 top tips for best walker rollator is considering the type of seat in four-wheeled rollators. An adjustable seat height can mean the difference between comfort and discomfort, as can the contour and material of the seat. Padded seats that are ergonomically shaped offer far superior comfort than plain hard plastic seats.

7. Handles and Brake Types: Cable Loop vs. Push Down

When you are choosing a mobility device, ensure that the height of the handlebar is approximately the same as thefour wheel walker with brakes and seat 43 distance from the crease of your wrist to the ground. The handle should offer a firm grip for safety and be comfortable in your hand.

Rollators have wheels and will feature handle brakes, the most common of which are the cable loop and push down types.

Cable Loop Brake System

The cable loop system is similar to bicycles, and the brakes are engaged by the user squeezing the levers against the handles.

Push Down Brake System

Push down spring-loaded brakes engage when the user bears down on the frame and release when pressure is taken off, so these may be unsuitable for petite or frail users who do not have the strength to engage the push down breaks.

Rollators with seats always have a brake lock to prevent the device from rolling away while the user is seated.

8. Frame Storage and Transportation: Weight vs. Ease of Folding?

If you are wondering how to choose a walker rollator, the next tip is to evaluate the weight and ease of folding.

  • A foldable rollator can fit through narrow doorways and be flattened for transport.
  • A lightweight rollator with an easy fold mechanism will make your device suitable for transport by train, plane, and automobile.
  • Non-folding versions are more suitable for people who rarely travel and will use the device within the confines of their home.

9. Appearance of Device: Cost vs. Features

Rollators are more complex devices with wheels, brakes, seats, and accessories, and are, therefore, usually more expensive than walkers. Heavy duty rollators can cost considerably more than their lighter counterparts.

It’s important to carefully evaluate your individual needs and choose a walker rollator with features you will use. There’s no point paying extra for a rollator which folds completely flat when you’re only ever going to use it around the house, and a $50 non-folding rollator may serve your purpose. On the other hand, investing $500 hybrid rollator/transport chair may be more cost effective if your needs dictate the occasional use of a wheelchair.

Choose the Best Rollator Walker That Will Take You Where You Need To Go

4 wheel rollator walker 44

Deciding what you want the rollator walker for, mobility or support, and then where you wish to use it whether indoors or outdoors will be the first couple of decisions to make. From there it will be about looking at the various options that can individualise the mobility devise to you, ensuring an unrivalled user comfort and experience.

We hope these 9 top tips for best walker rollator will help you make an informed decision, enable you to choose the best rollator walker that will take you where you need to go in your life safely and with ease.