So you've decided to use an assistive cane. That happens to be a great decision for anyone who needs a little additional help with balance. While a cane is not intended to serve the same purpose as crutches, actually providing support, the security of having that extra "helping hand" is invaluable. The fact that canes are also available in a wide array of styles, colors, and patterns makes them even more appealing. It's just a matter of selecting one or two that catch your eye and then sizing them to suit your height and body size.
The importance of proper cane sizing really can't be emphasized enough. Correctly sized, a cane becomes a comfortable tool and accessory. However, in the wrong size, a cane is not only uncomfortable but also causes you to lean to one side when it's too short, which defeats its purpose of maintaining your balance. Just as bad, a cane that is too tall compels you to work much harder to lift and move the cane as your armrests awkwardly atop it.
Proper Cane Sizing Prevents Future Pain
Perhaps worst of all is the health consequences of an improperly sized cane. Unnecessary pain in the affected area or additional injury to it are potential side effects as is a strain on your supporting muscles. After all that you've already experienced, compelling you to decide that a cane might be useful, you certainly don't want to increase your discomfort or add to your injuries.
That's why measuring is so essential in accurately determining the cane size that is best for you. To help you size your cane properly, we suggest that you meet with your doctor, physical therapist or pharmacist to obtain the most careful and accurate measurement. As a trained professional, each of them has the expertise to assist you in measuring correctly and ensuring that your cane is the proper height.
You can Measure at Home
If you prefer to size your cane at home, our video, and the sizing diagram that accompanies it, provide you with step-by-step instructions. All you need is a friend to help with the measuring. By following these simple steps, you will find that the entire process is actually quite easy:
- Put on your usual walking shoes.
- Stand as straight, yet as comfortably, as possible.
- Let your arms fall to your sides naturally, with a slight bend at the elbow as if you had a cane in your hand.
- Ask someone to measure the distance from your wrist joint to the floor, using a tape measure.
- Round up that measurement to the nearest inch.
- Repeat the entire process with each pair of shoes that you wear on a regular basis.
While these steps are a great way to achieve precise measurements that will enable you to size your cane appropriately, the sizing diagram is meant to be merely a guideline as each body type is different. In fact, there is another sizing method that is considerably quicker than this one, even if it is a bit less exact:
- Simply convert your height to inches.
- Divide that number in half.
- Round up to the nearest half-inch.
- Add another half inch.
This technique is best used only if you don't have anyone to assist you with the measuring needed in the second method. Moreover, you will want to ensure that you include the additional half inches because shortening a cane is no problem, but lengthening it is impossible. Therefore, if you are going to err, you would rather the cane be a bit too long than too short.
Notice the Cane's Mechanics
There are a few other considerations worth noting. A thin cane, for instance, won't offer adequate balance for a broader person, as an extra strong cane. This is a matter that is easily overlooked but which can make using your cane difficult or even impossible. Since cane shafts come in varying thicknesses, selecting one that suits your body is not complicated. Bearing in mind your overall size and weight, you want to make sure that the size of your cane's shaft complements your own personal size.
Likewise, pay attention to the size of the cane handle. Women, for example, may find a smaller handle more comfortable since it is likely to be more in keeping with the size of a woman's hand. Similarly, a larger handle may accommodate a man's hand more comfortably. While the design of the
handle, from the traditional hooked handle to the popular derby handle, among many others, maybe what initially captures your attention, remember to go beyond looks. Actually holding the cane in your hand and leaning on it, will enable you to determine whether the handle is the right size for you.
Once you realize that a cane may be useful, even necessary, choosing one is, of course, your first step. Sizing it properly should be next. While style and design matter - after all, you will be carrying your cane with you to various activities and events - sizing it properly is an equally important factor. Height, shaft, and handle are the three elements in which size definitely matters in a cane.