Common Mistakes Made When Using a Cane
Posted by ELIZABETH CARROLL
Canes are vital tools that help people become more self-sufficient by improving their walking ability. However, if you need a good cane to support you, then you must know how to properly use it. Many things can hamper your cane usage and hurt you in the end. It’s best if you avoid the common mistakes made when using a cane. This article will help you with that.
Choosing the Right Cane
Picking out the cane is always a difficult task, as you need to find one that fits you. You’re looking for a cane that has the right height and weight while also looking good. You’ll notice that canes generally fit into one of two categories. Women’s canes and men’s canes have a slight distinction. Women’s canes are usually a bit lighter and feature different designs, while men’s canes are usually a bit more uniform and heavier. You can get whatever cane you want, but these categories might make your decision easier.
Height of the Cane
Your cane needs to match your height to give you the best leverage and support during walks. The top of your cane should sit at or near your hip when the tip is fully touching the ground. This should mean that when you’re holding the cane handle, your arm is mostly relaxed with a slight bend in the elbow.
Function Over Form
One common mistake that people make is overdoing it when they choose their cane style. While canes are fashion accessories, you cannot and should not ignore that they must be useable above all else. A cane handle should fit in your hand comfortably—and the design of the cane isn’t as important as that.
Replace Cane Tip
Most canes have a top that’s made from a more durable material than the rest of the cane. This is to protect the cane from damage as you use it. However, this tip will eventually wear down. You should get a cover to prevent the damage in the first place, or you can replace the tip once you see damage to prevent it from spreading to your cane.
One mistake that many people fall for is not investing in their canes. A basic cane is a tool that can help you accomplish a lot, but the design does have its flaws. That’s why people make a lot of different modifications. You can add things to your cane to make it easier to use—such as tip covers, which add extra protection and help prevent the cane from sliding, or a hand loop, which can tie a cane loosely around your hand, making it easier to hold. You won’t lose your cane when it’s strapped to your wrist! These small modifications can really help your cane function the way you need it.
One of the first things you’ll need to do when you’re looking for a cane is to pick which side you’ll carry the cane on. It may feel weird at first but it’s best for the cane to be on the opposite side of your weaker leg. This will give you the best support for your weaker leg as you walk and use the cane.
Distance When Placing the Cane
You need to be careful when using the cane to keep it close to you. As you put the cane down and use it to balance, it should be directly next to you. If the cane’s too far forward or further away, you’ll have a hard time maintaining balance and need to use a lot more strength to stay upright. If you need to bend or lean while using the cane, its placement is too far.
Good posture is key to using a cane to its maximum effect. Hold yourself as upright as possible when using the cane. This will help you evenly distribute your weight between it and your leg. Overly relying on the cane can be bad, though, as you can lose a lot of your control, so use it to support yourself properly.
Another problem people have when using their cane is the incorrect rhythm of walking while it’s supporting their leg. Your walking cane is meant to support your weaker leg, letting you distribute your weight to the cane instead of your leg. As such, you should use your cane in conjunction with your weaker leg. When you take a step with your weak leg, your cane should be moving forward with it. When your weaker leg is carrying your weight because the stronger leg is making a step, your cane should help support your weaker leg. This is the walking rhythm of a cane; it follows and supports your weaker leg.
Stairs are one of the most dangerous things for anyone using a cane. The limited space and height make stairs dangerous to navigate, but a cane can help you. The main mistake is not following the correct rhythm. You always want your cane supporting your weaker leg, like with regular walking. Your stronger leg should carry the most weight when climbing or descending the stairs. When going up the stairs, lead with your strong foot, so it can help you bring your other legs up. When going down the stairs, lead with your weak foot so it can support your body as you descend each stair.
Take It Slow
One final, common mistake that people make is simply rushing while they’re walking. A cane is very useful and can speed up your walking—but that doesn’t mean that you can go too fast, as the cane can only help you if you use it properly. Make sure you’re taking the proper time to fully balance on your cane so you can avoid potential accidents.
These are just some of the common mistakes made when using a cane, so make sure you’re still careful when using one. However, as long as you follow this guide on the common mistakes and how to avoid them, you should find yourself having a much easier time moving around with your cane.