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Many seniors resist using a cane because they don’t want to appear old or frail. A common issue seen among the aging is using the furniture in their homes to stabilize themselves when walking. They move from chair to couch, countertop to the wall, and build a network of furnishings to move about their home. This can be a real problem when they want to venture out of their homes. If you are finding yourself off balance or limping frequently, consult with your physician about using
a cane or a walker to help steady yourself.
If you have found that it is time to start using a cane, you want to make sure you start out using it correctly. An issue that many people find that are currently using a cane is that they may be using it improperly. If the cane is not being properly used or is ill-fitted, it can’t help an unsteady individual. It can sometimes serve as a false sense of security, if not used correctly and sometimes,
even contribute to a fall.
How to safely walk with a cane on a level surface:
- Hold the cane in the hand on your “good” side (the healthy leg) to better support the opposite painful, weak, or injured leg
- As you take a step with your weak leg, bring the cane forward at the same time.
- Lean your weight through your grasp holding the cane for extra stability. Keep your head up and don’t look down at your feet.
- Always have the weak leg assume your first weight-bearing step on a flat surface with the heel first. Try to keep a natural step length and pace when walking.
- The cane should move the distance of an average step forward. With each move forward, you should not be stepping ahead of the cane.
- If you are using the cane for general mobility (rather than an injury),hold the cane in your dominant hand to bear the most weight.
- The length of a cane is important.The cane should fit so the handle falls comfortably into the palm of your “good” side or dominant hand when relaxed, with the elbow slightly bent. If your cane is too high, this can hurt your shoulder and if it is too low, it can cause you to slouch o
If you begin using your new cane the correct way, you will find it to be an easier transition and you will be much more stable. If you are reading this article and realize that you are not using your cane properly, try to slowly make the necessary adjustments and you will be much happier and safer in the long run. Always refer to your doctor or physical therapist if you have any questions about your stability.