Choosing the Right Walking Cane
09 April, 2021
Written by Allied Medical
How do you know which walking cane is right for you?
What should it be made of?
Most walking canes these days are made of aluminium as it makes them lightweight yet strong - two important features of a walking aid. Most designs also have the benefit of being easily height adjustable, using a telescopic design with a loaded spring to secure the cane at the right height. A number of these are also available in a folding style and come in different patterns and colours - bringing added convenience and fun!
Wooden canes have been around for a long time and are both strong and durable; however, they need to be cut to the specific height you require. Once these are cut, you are not able to change the height unless you want it to be shorter. If this is the type that you would prefer, we definitely suggest that you cut it off conservatively to get it to the right height for you - you can always cut more off.
What type of handle is best?
There are a number of different handle styles – each with a different purpose.
Crook or Hook style handle – a more traditional style of cane handle, it is easy to hang over a chair or forearm when not in use. The handle can be difficult to grasp for those with hand pain or discomfort and is not ideal if you need to place a lot of weight on to the stick.
Standard T handle – is common on the folding canes and works well for a number of people. The shape of the grip allows the thumb to wrap around the front of the stick and the back of the grip allows the hand to rest on it.
Ergonomic handle – this is also called a Fischer grip as it was developed by Austrian, Dr Fischer to reduce the pressure points on the hand by spreading the user’s weight across the palm. It is ideal if you use a cane a lot and place a lot your weight through the stick. Its shape is similar to the mould of the palm of a hand which means that there are both left and right versions depending on which hand you use the stick in.
Swan neck – is more to do with the design of the shaft of the walking stick than the handle itself. This shape means that it has an angled shaft that projects the handle forward. As a result, when you put your weight through the handle grip, it goes straight down the cane shaft – as opposed to a T style handle which puts the weight of the user towards the back of the cane and can allow it to slip backwards when being used. The swan neck is of most benefit, if you are really unstable on your feet and place lots of weight on the stick.
When would a quad cane be a good idea?
A quad cane is a type of cane that has four rubber capped feet at its base, which allows for extra support and stability. It is also able to be free-standing which can often be an advantage, though be aware that these are slightly heavier than a standard cane.
What are the advantages of a folding cane?
Folding canes are a great option if you don’t always need a cane or are using it away from your home and when travelling. When you get into a car, for instance, you simply collapse a folding cane and then unfold it when you arrive at your destination. Folding canes also pack easily in a suitcase or carry-on bag.
What is the right height for me?
Getting the right height cane is really important as it will ensure that it gives you the best possible stability and that it will support you as it is intended to. Whatever style of cane you select; it should be properly measured and/or adjusted. At the right height, it should allow you to stand with both shoulders level and the angle of the flexed elbow at between 25 to 30 degrees.
To get the right height, stand upright in your regular shoes with your hands by your sides and measure the distance from your wrist to the floor. This is the height of the stick that you require.
Safety and stability
As well as the cane being the right height for you, it is really important that it has a good-sized rubber tip on the end. It should be 1”-2” wide to ensure it gives adequate traction and safety. These do tend to get worn out, so make sure that you check and replace them when they are showing signs of wearing down.
And of course, there is also a great choice of colours. You can get traditional black and brown canes, but there are also a number of fashionable colours available – so be sure to choose one that lets your personality shine!