Many of you reading this article have been using a walking stick for some time and we are certainly not here to teach you how to suck eggs but as the old saying goes “you’re never too old to learn”
That said you would be surprised how many people are relying on the support of a walking stick that is the incorrect length, often because they have never been advised or measured correctly for a walking stick in the first place and simply picked one off-the-shelf that looks nice. The best thing is to get correctly measured by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist but if that’s inconvenient here are some self-help tips and guides.
A walking stick needs to be the right length for your height to offer maximum support and of course safety, it should only ever be used to assist you with balance and minor support and never to take the full weight of your body, if that type of support is needed you would be best to use crutches or a walker/walking frame that are more capable of taking your full weight.
How to Get the Correct Walking Stick Length:
1: Stand upright in your normal walking shoes
2: Let your arms fall naturally at your side
3: You then need to find out what the walking stick length should be, for this you need to measure the distance from your wrist to the floor in a straight line (Might be good if you’ve got somebody else to help you)
4: In most cases this should be the correct length of your walking stick from the tip to the top of the handle.
Another way to work out the approximate ( but not as accurate as the above) walking stick length you need is to measure your maximum height and then half it. Example if you are 5’4″ (64 inches) then the correct length of your walking stick should be 32 inches.
How to Correctly Use a Walking Stick:
In most cases you will be using a single walking stick because you have a weakness on one side and the stick or cane will be used to give you extra support or balance, most people will find a natural position that feels most comfortable for them but the guides below might be worth considering if only to check to see if you’re getting the best support.
1: Use the walking stick in the hand of your strongest side to get maximum support from your weakest limb, so if you have a weakness on your right leg, hold the walking stick in your left hand.
2: Generally you would lead with your weakest leg while supporting the weight with your stick as you step forward.
3: Generally you would move the walking stick about 1 1/2 feet in front of you each time you take a step.
4: If you are stepping down a single step or curb, firstly put your walking stick at the bottom of the step or below the curb to offer you support and then stepped down with your weaker leg first, when stepping up a step or up a curb step up first with your “stronger leg” followed by bringing up your walking stick and weaker leg.
5: It is not generally recommended to walk down a set of stairs using a walking stick with no handrail support.