Movement is one of the keys to living a healthy life. But for many people with injuries or that are recovering from surgery, even just walking can be hard. One great tool to assist you with that is the cane.
Are you new to walking with a cane? If so, there are many facets you need to be mindful of, starting with how you measure for the right cane, how you use your cane properly, and also managing steps and stairways. Keep reading to learn some insightful information about all of this so you can maintain your mobility in a healthy and safe manner that keeps you going around.
Of course, canes are not the only devices that can help with mobility. Crutches are used by people who need support from both sides. For those recovering from significant leg injury or surgery, a new device gaining popularity is the knee walker or knee scooter. But for most people that just need a little extra support when walking, a cane is a great option.
Measuring For Your Cane
The proper length for your cane is crucial to using it safely and having improved mobility. Fortunately, many cane models are adjustable. Having said that, it still proves useful in knowing what your proper length is so you can adjust to it.
First of all, obtain your measurements when you’re wearing your regular walking shoes. Stand upright so your arms can relax by your sides with a normal elbow bend.
You need a second person to measure the specific distance from the floor up to your wrist joint. That number is likely to be the appropriate cane length for you, so either choose a cane of that measurement or adjust one to that number.
One way to quickly estimate an appropriate cane length for someone is simply by knowing your full body height and then dividing the number by two. For most folks, the best size cane winds up within just an inch of half of their total height. Use this guideline if you don’t have someone available to get the actual measurement using the first method.
Using Your Cane Properly
There are several things you need to do in order to walk safely with your cane across level surfaces.
For starters, know what your ‘good’ side is and hold your cane in that hand. It might seem counter-intuitive, but this lets you support the opposing lower leg.
Next, step forward with your ‘bad’ leg while also bringing your cane forward simultaneously. Move your cane and your impacted leg forward as one.
Lean your weight into the cane-holding arm as necessary. Your first full weight-bearing step across any level surface should start with your bad leg.
Your cane should move roughly the distance of your typical step forward every time you move it. You should never feel like you’re stretching in order to catch up to your cane, much less stepping ahead of it.
If your need for a cane if general mobility other than injury or ailment, consider using your dominant hand for the cane and bearing the weight on that side of the body. If you’re personally working with a physical therapist for an injury, then follow any specific cane-walking plan they have different from what’s written here.
Here is a great YouTube video that gives an overview of walking with a cane:
Managing Stairs With Your Cane
Think ‘up with the good’ if you want to go up steps right. Hold any available railing with one hand before you advance your stronger leg. Place it on the first step above your current standing position. Once you get your good leg placed appropriately on the next step, you can advance your weaker leg up to the very same step so your legs are together again. If you don’t have a railing for holding onto, place your cane on the next upper step either after placing your weaker leg or just after.
If you want to go down stairs comfortably and safely, then it reverses to a case of ‘down with your bad.’ Hold any available railing with your hand, advancing your weak leg by putting it on the next lowest step ahead of where you’re standing. Once you put this leg in place properly, advance your stronger leg down to that same step so your feet are together again. When you don’t have a railing for holding onto, place your cane on the next lower step either with or after the placement of your stronger leg.
Now that you have read this article, you know the basics of walking with a cane.