5 Top Tips on How to Choose the Best Walking Cane

stylish walking canes

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.

walking canes

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:

Walking Canes:

  • 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

Rollator Walkers:

  • 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.

Design:

  • Standard: This single-tip walking cane is suitable for people who only need help with balance. This type oftheraputic cane 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.

Material

  • 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.

fashionable canes

Style:

  • 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.

wooden canes #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.

Additional References:

http://www.indymobility.co.uk/walking-aids/walking-sticks/walking-stick-types.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/multimedia/canes/sls-20077060

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

walking stick height 96

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.