A cane is a medical device used by many people to facilitate balancing while walking. A cane helps substitute for a decrease in strength, range of motion, joint stability, coordination, or endurance. It can also decrease the stress on a painful joint or limb. Using a walking aid, such as a cane, can help you be safer and more independent in your daily activities. Canes come in many shapes and sizes. Because most everyone, including children, have toyed with a cane at sometime, most people know what a cane is used for and how to use one. But there are some simple principles that will make using a cane both easier and safer. Careway Wellness Center carries a large selection of canes that can be purchased at the retail store in Woburn, Massachusetts or online. Careway also sells cane accessories including replacement tips and ice tips that can be attached to the cane for slippery conditions.
Using a cane:
- If you are using a cane because one leg is weak or painful, hold the cane on the opposite side from the weak or painful leg. For example, if your right hip is sore, hold the cane in your left hand.
- If you are using the cane for a little help with balance and stability, hold it in the hand you use less. If you are right-handed, you’ll probably want to hold the cane in your left hand to leave your right hand free for other things.
- Hold the cane close to your body so you can push straight down on it. This is especially true if you feel as though you need to put a lot of weight on the cane because your balance is not good or you have significant pain or weakness.
- Be sure your cane fits you. When you stand up in your normal posture with the cane tip on the ground, the handle of the cane should be next to the top of your leg. The elbow should be slightly bent.
- A cane can help if you have minor problems with balance or steadiness on your feet. It can also help take a little weight off one leg by shifting some weight to the cane. Sale’s associates at Careway Wellness Center can recommend a cane if you just need a little help walking comfortably and safely.
How to walk using a cane (We highly recommend that you view the video if you or a loved one is going to be using a cane):
The best way to think about walking with a cane is that you are taking normal steps and just moving the cane when you would normally swing your arm forward.
Move the cane at the same time as the opposite leg, just as though you were swinging your arm. For example, if you are holding the cane in your left hand, move the cane forward when you step with your right foot. If you are using the cane because of a painful or weak leg, you will be moving that leg at the same time as the cane.
- Set the cane comfortably ahead of you, so it is even with the foot you are stepping with. Don’t lean forward to reach farther.
- Step past the cane with the other.
- Repeat the process.
Tips on how to safely use a cane:
- Look straight ahead, not down at your feet.
- Clear away small rugs, cords, or anything else that could cause you to trip, slip, or fall.
- Be very careful around pets and small children. They can be unpredictable and get in your path when you least expect it.
- Be sure the rubber tip on your cane is clean and in good condition to help prevent slipping.
- Avoid slick conditions, such as wet floors and snowy or icy driveways. In bad weather, be especially careful on curbs and steps.
- Never use your cane to help you stand up or sit down. Even if you still have one hand on your cane, put the other hand on the surface you are sitting on or the arm of your chair. Use that hand to guide you as you sit down, and to push with as you stand up. If you are less steady on your feet, rest your cane securely nearby, so it doesn’t fall and you can reach it easily. And use both hands on the sitting surface to help you sit down or stand up.
- Always use your strong or uninjured leg to take the first step when you go up stairs or a curb. When you go back down, step with your weak or injured leg first. Remember “up with the good, and down with the bad” to help you lead with the correct leg. Ask for help if you feel unsure about going up and, especially, down stairs.