Choosing and using a walking stick

walking sticks

Walking sticks or canes can improve your balance as you walk or help you compensate for an injury or disability. A walking stick can also indicate to other people you need a bit more space around you.

If you are looking for help with balance a walking stick may assist - particularly if walking over uneven ground or if you feel unsteady on your feet. If you feel you need a walking stick all the time it is initially worth contacting your GP to assess your condition.

To see the range of walking sticks (and accessories) available from Aspire Canterbury click here.

Checking the fit

A guide to the correct height of a walking stick is to stand with our arms by your side. The hand grip should sit at the level of your wrist bone. Most non folding and folding walking sticks are adjustable, but if they are not the correct height they can be cut to the correct size. Wooden walking sticks are obviously not adjustable but again can be cut to achieve the correct height.

  Aluminium walking sticks can be adjusted using the spring pin buttons - ensure the buttons are correctly locked in place.

 Correct use of a walking stick

If you are using a walking stick to take the weight off one leg, it is important to hold it in the hand OPPOSITE the affected leg in order to keep the body balanced. If you are using two walking sticks you should still move the stick at the same time as the opposite leg.

Folding walking sticks

folding walking stick

If you are only occassionally needing a walking stick, having one that can be kept in the car, handbag or backpack may be useful.  Folding sticks come in a range of colours/designs and generally fold into four sections - springing into shape when released from their bag. These sticks are adjustable in height and may come with a wrist strap. There may be a maximum weight for usage of these sticks - generally around 114 kgs (18 stone).

Non folding walking sticks

These sticks come in a range of types and designs. Aluminium sticks are generally adjustable in height and vary in respect of the type of grip handle.

Types of grip

The type of grip or handle is a matter of personal preference. A foam grip or grip that is shaped to fit your hand may be more comfortable if you have trouble grasping with your fingers due to arthritis or pain joint. Pain or numbness in your hand or fingers may indiate that your cane's grip isn't a good fit for your hand.

Offset handles place the user's weight directly over the base for maximum balance and control. If you need a stick to help you bear weight you may choose to use an offset cane with four tips or a quad stick.

Fischer handle                                     

     Fischer Handle                                      Crook Handle                      Offset Handle        

Types of quad sticks

Quad stick

There are basicaly two types of quad sticks: wide and narrow.Wide base quad sticks have a larger base where the four short legs are attached. This helps provide more support and improved stability while walking. However, a wide base quad can be heavier and may be more difficult to manoeuvre. A narrow base quad has a narrower base where the legs are attached. althought this provides less support than a wide based stick it is easier to lift and manoeuvre when walking. You should not use quad canes to assist with rising from a chair as they could slip. Your Doctor or physotherapist can advise on the best type for you.

Walking Stick Tips/Ferrules   ferrules

Walking stick tips or ferrules are pliable rubber ends which fit onto the walking stick and provide grip to the floor -  much like car tyres grip the road. Check the bottom of the cane from time to time to ensure it isn't worn through which can pose a slipping hazard.  Replacement ferrules can be obtained from the Aspire Canterbury shop. Click here for link to shop page. If you are replacing a ferrule yourself it can sometime be hard to pull off the walking stick. Running the old ferrule on the stick under hot water for a few minutes can soften the rubber and make it easier to remove. Ferrules come in different sizes. Mainstream walking sticks generally take a 19mm ferrule.

Added extras

These can include items such as wrist straps which enable the cane to be within reach then you let go of the walking stick. Bending down to pick up a fallen stick can pose a possible risk for some people, so wrist straps can eliminate this problem. 

Cane holderWalking stick holders that clip onto a stick enable the cane to be balanced on a table top.

Walking stick tips can take different forms. A rubber stability foot which can replace a standard tip or ferrule and mean that the stick can stand upright independently. Wider stability feet are often used by people who use a stick and enjoy bowling - the wider foot prevents damage to the bowling green.unifootThe Unifoot has a flexible 'ankle' that allows complete contact with the ground  at all times - which means that when the walking stick is at an angle e.g. going up a slope or step, the base remains in total contact with the ground which provides increased stability.

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