The first solution that people with mobility issues seek are usually walking canes on account of their easy availability and low cost, but knowing the 5 top tips for on how to chose the best walking cane can prevent you from choosing the wrong cane and ending up with more problems than you had to begin with.
The first solution that people with mobility issues seek are usually walking canes on account of their easy availability and low cost, but knowing the 5 top tips for best cane choice can prevent you from choosing the wrong cane and ending up with more problems than you had to begin with.
5 Top Tips on How to Chose the Best Walking Cane
#1. Walking Cane or Rollator Walker?
The two are not mutually exclusive. Many people use both a cane and a walker for different activities and indoor versus outdoor use. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, consider this:
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Inexpensive and easily available
- Easier to use on uneven terrain, narrow hallways, and stairs
- Leave one hand free to carry something else
- Quad canes offer considerable stability and support
- Much greater support and stability compared to a walking cane
- Recommended during surgical recovery for added safety
- Accessories such as trays and baskets can be added to carry food or small items
- Easier to use
#2. Types of Walking Canes
The many materials, styles, and designs of walking sticks can be confusing for the buyer. It helps to know the main types of walking canes and the different benefits they offer.
- Standard: This single-tip walking cane is suitable for people who only need help with balance. This type of cane is more agile and can be easily used in narrow spaces and stairways. It is smaller when folded down and convenient to carry.
- Quad-Cane: This offset walking cane with four tips is appropriate if you need to bear weight on your mobility aid, such as following injury or surgery on a lower extremity. A quad cane offers more stability, but is also heavier than a single-tip cane (consider a carbon fiber cane if weight is an issue). Quad canes are more expensive than standard canes, so those on a tight budget may need to factor this in as well.
- Seat Cane: These walking canes are popular for a reason – they’re practical and compact. Waiting in long lines is never going to be a problem again! Tripod seats feature two additional legs on the walking cane that unfold to support a platform for the user to sit on with the cane handle positioned between the legs to prevent tipping over backward. Sling seat canes are a tad bit more ladylike with a two-pronged base and two additional legs that can be released to reveal a fabric sling seat. If you want a comfortable ladylike seat, go for a sling seat cane. If you want a lightweight cane and don’t care if you can’t cross your legs, choose a tripod cane.
- Wooden: These are the most common type of walking canes and they come in a range of options.
- Metal: Stronger than their wooden counterparts, these walking canes can be either fixed or adjustable height.
- Carbon Fiber: This extremely strong material is ultra-lightweight and virtually unbreakable and suitable for rigorous use.
- Fixed: Most wooden walking canes are fixed height and care must be taken when purchasing this type of mobility aid because its height cannot be altered.
- Folding: These lightweight walking canes have a metal shaft divided into sections that can be folded up for easy transportation and storage. Strong elastic connects the sections and maintains stability when the cane is in use.
- Telescoping: These walking canes are fabricated from steel, carbon fiber, or aluminum, and offer height adjustment. They collapse into a compact state for storage and transport.
#3 Features of Walking Canes
The last thing you need is to end up with an aching wrist because you chose a walking cane with the wrong type of handle, and a cane that is the wrong height can leave you with more problems than you bargained for, which is why it’s important to carefully evaluate the features of a walking cane before you buy it.
- Height: This is by far the most important feature to consider because a walking cane that is the wrong height can be a fall hazard or can result in aches and pains due to hunching over or can throw you off balance. Adjustable canes are best if you want to be able to fine tune your walking stick after you’ve bought it. To determine the size of your cane, have a friend or family member carefully measure the distance from your wrist to the ground while you stand up straight in your usual footwear.
- Grip: This is where you’ll hold the cane, often for prolonged periods of time, so it’s important that the grip on your walking cane is comfortable. Consider the shape, material, and design of the cane’s grip. A smooth round grip may look the most elegant, but a contoured grip may be easier on your wrist. Foam grips are the softest, special gel grips are available, and arthritis sufferers may find larger grips more comfortable.
- Tip: This is where your walking cane is subject to the maximum wear and tear, and durability is essential. Reinforced plastic tips are likely to last the longest. Rubber tips are more stable and offer a better grip on all types of terrain.
#4. Cane Handle
Choosing the correct handle will prevent unnecessary stress on your joints or the development of numbness and tingling in the wrist with prolonged use. Here are the different types of walking cane handles and their features:
- Derby: This thick handle has a gentle wave that conforms to the natural shape of the hand, making it especially suitable for people with arthritis.
- Fritz: Similar to the Derby, but thinner, this hooked handle allows the user to hang the walking cane off a chair, for example.
- Offset: This type of handle distributes the user’s weight along the length of the cane and is recommended by the medical community to reduce strain on the wrist.
- Ergonomic: This type of handle is specially designed to reduce pain and stress even with prolonged use.
- Contoured: Shaped to be used in either the right or left hand, this type of handle is extremely comfortable but cannot be switched between hands.
- Round/Crook: Traditional and elegant, but not the most comfortable of handles.
- Palm Grip: The wide grip of this handle is very comfortable because the whole hand can rest on it.
- Knob/Ball: Graceful and stylish, these walking cane handles offer little support and poor grip and are mostly ornamental.
#5. Best Cane Choice: Accessories
Using a mobility device doesn’t have to mean you can’t let your sense of style shine through. There is an array of styles, designs, patterns and colors to choose from. In addition to being a fun accessory, you can make your life a lot easier with some of these add-ons:
- Cane Clutch Bag: Attaches to your walking cane with Velcro straps and provides easy access to your cell phone, keys, medications, and other small items. Compartments, zippers, and a wrist strap add functionality.
- Tripod or Quad Cane Tip: A three- or four-pronged tip with non-slip pads that allow your cane to stand upright on its own.
- Glow-in-the-Dark Cane Tip: Ideal for night time and poor light conditions.
- Flexible Tip: Flexes and swivels for added stability.
- Tip Stabilizer: Featuring sand and water vents, this cane tip makes it easier to walk on sand or gravel.
- Ice Grip: Improves safety on snow, ice, grass, and sand.
- Wrist Strap: Attaches easily to your walking cane for added security.
- Mobility Light: Attaches to cane tubing and turns on automatically by sensing motion and low light.
- Folding Storage Bag: Protects your cane during storage. Carry strap makes your walking cane easy to transport.
- Removable Decorative Covers: Available in fashionable colors and patterns to showcase your personality.
- Fleece Cane Grip: For those cold days when you want something warm to grip; machine washable.
5 Top Tips on How to Choose the Best Walking Cane
Today more than ever there are so many great colors, designs, shapes and styles of walking canes and sticks, from the functional look through to all sorts of cool and funky sticks. We hope our 5 top tips on how to chose the best walking cane will have you moving forward in your life with increased safety, confidence and some style with your new mobility aid.