Of the 6.8 million Americans who use an assistive device to help with their mobility about 70%, or 4.8 million, use a can exclusively. If you need a cane for walking, it is imperative that you choose the right one for you. There are many options especially in terms of materials, from carbon fiber canes to the more traditional wooden canes. Here’s how you can find your comfortable fit.
Height is the Most Important Consideration When Choosing a Cane.
When discussing the right cane for you, the fit will prove to be crucial. The fit of a cane refers to it’s height, which will be in inches of whole and half sizes. A general rule for finding the correct cane height is to measure the user’s height while they are wearing their walking shoes, and then dividing that number by two. The corresponding cane size should be a good fit, give or take an inch.
Why You’ll Need a Different Measuring System. While this method does give a ballpark figure, it does have its problems. Everyone’s body is slightly different, and a more detailed measuring system results in a better fit. This will take a helper to measure: the cane user should stand up straight while wearing their regular walking shoes. Next, the helper will measure from the ground to the wearer’s wrist bone. Clearly, people have arms of different lengths. Some have very long arms, and some have arms that are short for their body. Not taking this into account can lead to a cane that is the wrong height, which can cause alignment problems.
How to Test Your Cane is the Right Height. Once a cane height is determined it is time to test it. The height of a good cane will not be too tall, so that the arm does not bend and undue stress is put upon the wrist. A cane that is too short will cause the walker to hunch slightly to reach the handle. Canes and walking sticks should make mobility easier, not cause more issues. The correct height will allow the user to walk easily with a slight bend in their elbow. This position allows for proper positioning throughout the body, so that the cane acts like a second support on the opposite side of the troubled leg.
Choosing a Cane Material Comes Down to What Weight You’re Comfortable Moving.
When looking at canes by weight, wooden canes are the heavier end of the spectrum, while carbon fiber canes are some of the lightest. Neither is better than the other exactly. Some cane users like the stately, heavy feel of a traditional wooden cane. They may even upgrade their’s to a more decorative option by using a cane carved from a tree root or stump. Likewise, some cane users prefer the lightweight carbon fiber canes because they almost forget the cane is even there.
Is There Any Negative Aspect to Using a Heavier Cane?There haven’t been any indications that using a heavier cane causes problems with alignment. However, there is sometimes a psychological element to using a cane. Some people feel uncomfortable admitting they need a cane, and choose to use one of the lightweight carbon fiber canes because of it. Others, especially those who are older, like the regal feel of using a heavy wooden cane.
The Elephant in the Room: Preventing Trips, Slips, and Falls.
It is necessary to keep in mind the purpose of a cane while shopping. A cane is meant to assist in mobility, which also entails preventing a fall. There are estimates that one in every four adults over the age of 65 experiences at least one fall each year. Not all of these falls are fatal, however the risk of injury is ever present. A cane can provide extra stability, and instills a bit more confidence in the user that their steps will be steady.
Choosing a cane is simple. Measure from the ground to the user’s wrist bone while wearing shoes, and find a cane that is within a half inch of that measurement. The material of the cane is a personal choice. Remember that using a cane is a matter of feeling confident in one’s mobility.