Is your mobility not what it used to be? Do you need some help with balance when standing and walking? Not quite steady on your own two feet but don’t need wheeling around?
Whether it’s for a short time or a chronic challenge, you could need a cane to help you safely get around. But don’t get just any old cane. The best walking cane for you should be the right size, style, and fit.
Thankfully, there are many types of walking canes available. With so many options, how can you choose the right one? Keep reading to learn how to choose a walking cane that’s best for you.
If the Cane Fits
Every day, 129 US seniors (ages 65 and older) visit Emergency Rooms due to falls while using a walker or a cane. Getting the right fit for your walking cane can decrease the risks of falling.
The Height is Right
It’s best to have a professional, a friend, or a loved one help you find the right height for your cane. Together, you can follow these steps and adjust your cane’s height.
- Put on your regular walking shoes and stand up straight
- Try to be natural, not stiff and too tall
- Place your arms naturally at your sides
- Casually bend your elbow about 15 degrees
- Have your friend, loved one, or pro measure the length from the floor to your wrist (while naturally bent at 15 degrees)
- If you are using your walking cane for balance, measure your arm at 30 degrees instead of 15
- Make your walking cane the same measurement you have from floor to wrist
Once you’ve determined the proper height for your walking cane, adjust it to stay at that height. If your cane doesn’t have an adjustable bottom, you may have to have it cut to fit the right size.
You Cane Cut It
If your cane is not adjustable, you may be able to cut it to the right size. Make sure there aren’t any warnings from the manufacturer advising against cutting. Always make sure your cane is a material and model that is safe to use after cutting it.
- Measure your ideal cane height
- Remove the walking cane tip
- Starting at the top of the walking can handle, measure the ideal height
- Mark where the bottom of the tape measure or ruler hits the cane
- Cut along the ideal height mark with a saw (if you don’t have the right tools, take your cane to the hardware store and ask if they will cut it)
- Replace the rubber walking cane tip on the bottom of the cane
- Enjoy your custom-height walking cane
It’s important to have someone helping you measure the right cane height. And, as the expression goes, measure twice, cut once! Make sure your measurements are accurate by double and triple-checking them.
Purpose Determines Style
Why do you use a cane? Do you need it for balance or stability? You will likely choose a certain type of cane based on why you need it.
You might prefer a certain look or style for your cane. The function should take priority over fashion in your cane selection. Here’s a closer look at some different types of walking canes.
Handle With Care
No two hands are the same, so why shouldn’t cane handles have variety, too?
The Derby Handle
The derby handle is considered one of the most ergonomic handles. It is thicker and contours to the shape of your hand better than most other handles. Derby handles are great for those with arthritis who need a comfort grip option.
The C Handle
The name says it all. Canes with C-shaped or round handles are the traditional, curved style. These canes are great for hanging over the back of a chair, table, or coat rack.
However, many people find the traditional curved handle uncomfortable. These canes are more popular for look than function. Many people find the handles cumbersome and uncomfortable.
C-shaped handles are a good fit for those who don’t need to bear much weight on their cane. They’re best used for short distances as well.
The Offset Handle
This type of walking cane handle has a small curve to the neck. The handgrip is straight but the shaft curves to like the top part of the letter Z.
Offset handles are designed to reduce wrist strain. They’re also made to evenly distribute weight throughout the walking cane.
Derby + Offset = Ergonomic
What’s better than a comfy handle? A comfier handle! Some canes join the designs of derby and offset to create an ergonomic handle. They lessen the chances of fatigue and reduce shock to the user.
Ergonomic handles are ideal for those with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis in their hands.
Some canes have two handles. One on the top and one that can fold in on the side. These secondary handles are meant to support individuals who need assistance standing and sitting down.
Use the top handle of the walking cane when you’re walking around. Fold-out the secondary handle when sitting down or standing up. It’s the perfect assist for people who need help with the sit-to-stand or stand-to-sit position.
Top to Bottom
Any of these handles can be applied to traditional or Quad canes. Traditional canes have one “foot” at the bottom. They’re unable to stand by themselves and usually have a rubber tip on the bottom for gripping.
Traditional canes are highly effective when they’re the right size and used for the right purpose. Traditional canes are also easier to store as they don’t take up a lot of space.
The Quad Cane
Quad canes have four feet instead of one. They are able to stand up by themselves. They usually have an ergonomic handle.
Quad canes are great for those who need a lot of support while walking and/or standing. Since they stand alone, they’re convenient for those who need their walking cane next to them at all times.
Quad canes can take more effort to lift and move than traditional canes. Because of this, quad cane users should make sure they have the correct height and type of cane.
Continue down to the end of the cane and you’ll find the cane tip. Here are some tips about cane tips (see what we did, there?). You should always check with your doctor or medical provider before switching out your cane tips.
Adding or removing a cane tip without approval could make your cane unsafe.
Most canes have a single rubber tip at the end. With time and continued use, cane tips can wear down. To keep your cane safe and functional, make sure the tip is in good condition.
Did you know there are many types of cane tips available? Here is a look at different types of cane tips.
Standard cane tips are a single piece of round rubber that slips over the end of the cane. Standard cane tips usually come in 3/4″ and 1″.
Expandable tips come in one size but can be stretched to fit canes up to 26mm (a little over 1″). These are great if you can’t find a tip to fit your specific cane size.
These tips are usually rubber and fit on the end of your cane. They have added metal prongs or spikes to make them safer on ice. Some winter cane tips have retractable ice spikes.
Others have several spikes surrounding the rubber tip for added security. Most of these attach to the cane shaft and can easily position out of the way when not in use.
Stand Alone Tips
These tips are equipped with additional “feet” to help your cane stand on its own. Some have three feet and others have four feet. Most stand-alone tips are available in 3/4″ to 1″ sizes.
Fold It Up
For the ultimate storage, get a compact style cane. These canes can fold up into sections when not in use. They’re great for traveling.
Folding canes are also ideal for those who don’t have room in their homes for cane storage.
The Best Walking Cane for You
If you’re in search of the best walking cane, work with your doctor to find the right fit. Those who depend on their walking cane for stability and balance may need a cane with an ergonomic handle.
Those who need their canes less frequently might want a C-shaped handle for easier storage. Individuals who need extra traction during the winter can find cane tips with spikes for traction.
Like what you’ve read here? Check out more from our Health and Fitness section. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn.
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