How Different Surfaces Can Alter the Effectiveness of Canes
Posted by ALEX TORRES
People use walking canes to help with their mobility. However, your ability to walk without any trouble depends on one critical factor: the surface underneath you. Depending on which type of surface you walk on, this could impact your cane’s ability to assist you.
What this means is that whenever you plan on taking your cane with you somewhere, make sure that the surface below is safe enough for you to walk on. With this in mind, here is your guide on how different surfaces can alter the effectiveness of canes.
Snow and Ice
This should go without saying, but if you plan on walking on snow or ice with your cane, you better make sure that your cane is up to the task. If your cane has a flat bottom that tends to slip from time to time, you should consider purchasing a different type or avoid walking with it when it snows outside.
Luckily, some canes are great for walking through the ice and snow, and they are often more affordable than you think. Even so, you can purchase an ice gripper tip for your cane to help you traverse snowy grounds.
Concrete is a fantastic surface to walk on with a cane because it’s relatively flat but offers enough friction for you to stabilize yourself. However, be sure to look out for those nasty cracks (the ones that “break your mother’s back”) because your cane could get caught in one and make you fall.
Another point to consider is whether there is a chance of rain because concrete surfaces get slick when they’re wet. Nonetheless, concrete is one of the best surfaces to walk on with a cane, so feel free to walk throughout your neighborhood if there’s an abundance of concrete sidewalks.
Another prominent example of which surfaces you should walk on with a cane is grass. Whether you are walking through your garden or enjoying some sunshine with a walk in the park, grass is a surface that will give you plenty of stability. In addition, if you were to fall on accident, grass is a safer surface to land on than concrete or ice.
As with concrete, grass becomes slick after rainfall, and if it rains particularly hard, puddles could form and make things a bit muddy. Your cane could get stuck in the mud, so avoid those puddles at all costs.
Who said that cane users can’t enjoy the beach? Although walking on a beach with a cane is more complicated than grass or concrete, it’s still achievable with the proper technique and equipment.
First, you will want to obtain a wide tip for the base of your cane because the ground will be uneven. You also want your handle to be sturdy because you will be more reliant on your cane at the beach than in other places.
Furthermore, you must beware of the fact that your cane will sink into the sand while you walk, so you will have to use more force when pulling it out of the ground. Once you get acclimated to all these factors, you should be walking on the beach with your cane in no time.
Although it might seem similar to concrete, asphalt differs in a few ways. First, concrete is smoother, while asphalt is more textured and gravel-like. You might walk on asphalt when crossing the street, so learning how to walk on this surface with a cane is essential for keeping you safe.
First, avoid stray pebbles or rocks so that your cane doesn’t slip on them. Also, asphalt streets are prone to potholes, so you don’t want your cane getting caught in one of those either.
If you are walking up to an intersection at a busy street corner, make sure that drivers see you before crossing. Finally, if the timer on the walk sign is winding down, don’t risk crossing when it goes to zero.
You should be just as cautious walking indoors as you would be outdoors. One of the most common types of flooring in a home is tile, but since it’s so smooth and flat, it can also lead you to slip and fall if you aren’t careful.
You will also want to be on the lookout for any cracks in the tile as well, because they could cause your cane to get stuck for a moment. Nevertheless, as long as you look out for these things, you should have no problem walking with a cane on a tile floor.
Carpets and Rugs
Walking on a carpet or rug is one of the easiest ways to get around with glamorous walking sticks. You don’t have to worry about slipping because carpets have plenty of friction, and even if you do fall, they provide a cushion for you to land on. Still, falling isn’t easy no matter where it happens, so carpets aren’t 100% risk-free. Overall, you should feel very safe when using a cane on a rug.
If you are walking through an alleyway or old-fashioned road, you need to be extra cautious about using a cane on gravel. Since rocks can slide around at any moment, the ground is not as stable as you think. For this task, you will want to use a cane with a tripod design so that you can steadily maneuver through this kind of uneven ground.
Taking a relaxing walk through nature is not only possible with a cane—it can also provide you with numerous mental and physical health benefits. Nonetheless, there are still a few things you should look out for when walking through a forest.
First, your cane can get caught on any roots, sticks, or tree limbs, so you need to be mindful when walking through a wooded area. Also, just like with grass, the forest can get particularly muddy if there’s rainfall. The changing elevation on a forest trail is also something you should consider, so make sure your cane can provide you with stable support from different angles.
Overall, canes have come a long way since their humble beginnings as simple walking sticks. Now, there are plenty of types of canes and tips that will allow you to walk almost anywhere. After learning how different surfaces can alter the effectiveness of canes, you should be well-equipped with knowledge that will ensure your safety the next time you feel like taking a stroll.