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How do you use a walking stick?

If you’re finding it difficult to walk or have a condition or injury that directly affects your ability to walk, you might be worried that you'll lose your independence.

There are a variety of walking aids available for people who struggle with their mobility. In this blog, we take a close look at walking sticks, explaining exactly what a walking stick is before looking at how they help and how to use one.

What is a walking stick?

Also known as a cane, a walking stick is a type of walking aid that is designed to improve balance and stability. Often used by people who are injured, suffering from chronic conditions that affect mobility or otherwise in need of extra help to move around, walking sticks are held at one side of a person’s body with their weight resting on it for additional support. It can then be used to move around by foot without having to resort to a wheelchair, rollator or mobility scooter.

Whether you should go for a walking stick or another form of walking aid depends on your individual requirements. For instance, if you are able to stand and walk but you simply need help with your balance or to cater for an injured leg, a walking stick would be a suitable option. However, if you are unable to stand for long or are in need of continued support to get around, a rollator, wheelchair or mobility scooter may be a better suited alternative. 

An older man using a walking stick to get around.

How do walking sticks help?

For a walking stick to help the user, it needs to be used correctly. A walking stick is designed to improve movement if you have an injured leg or condition that hinders one of your legs by spreading the weight across the walking stick, making up for the strength taken away by your injured leg.

Walking sticks primarily help with improving balance and stability while walking. However, while they’re designed to assist people who are injured or lacking in lower body strength, they can also benefit people that suffer from other conditions such as arthritis, and when used correctly, can improve the quality of life and confidence of the user.

How to hold a walking stick

When a walking stick is used incorrectly, the likelihood of falling or becoming injured is increased. As such, it’s important that you know how to use your walking stick properly.

As a starting point, you should ensure that your hand is at the top of the walking stick and pushing down to make a strong connection with the floor. You should also consider the following:

Height - A walking stick works best when it’s the correct height for your body. You should measure yourself for your walking stick, and if you’re buying an adjustable walking stick, make sure it will adjust to your height.

Your posture - How you stand when using your walking stick could affect the likelihood of an accident occurring and your own physical condition. If you’re not standing properly with your walking stick, you could fall and hurt yourself, and an unsuitable posture could also lead to long-term issues with your physical health.

You should attempt to stand up straight and lean your hand downwards onto the stick. If you’re unable to stand straight, it’s important that you are as solid and stable as possible when walking with a stick.

Positioning - If you’re using the walking stick due to an injured leg, make sure you’re moving it at the same time and on the same side as the injury. You should then continue this approach whenever you walk. For instance, when moving up and down stairs, take the first step using your strong leg before moving your weaker leg and walking stick together at the same time.

Storage - To avoid any unnecessary damage to your walking stick, you should store it in a safe environment that won’t affect its condition. For example, if it’s a collapsible walking stick, use a bag or case to protect it when it’s not in use. Alternatively, if it’s a traditional wooden or metal walking stick, store it somewhere that’s safe and unlikely to damage it.

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