A walking aid—a walker, crutches, or a cane—helps
substitute for a decrease in strength, range of motion, joint stability,
coordination, or endurance. It can also reduce the stress on a painful joint
or limb. Using a walking aid can help you be more safe and independent in your
Almost everyone has used a walking aid at some
time, even if it was just playing around with crutches that belonged to someone
else. As a result, most people think they know how to use this equipment. But
there are some simple principles that will make using your walking aid easier
General safety when using walking aids
- Look straight ahead, not down at your
- Clear away small rugs, cords, or anything else that could
cause you to trip, slip, or fall.
- Be very careful around pets and
small children. They can be unpredictable and get in your path when you least
- Be sure the rubber tips on your walking aid are clean
and in good condition to help prevent slipping. You can buy replacement tips
from medical supply stores and drugstores. Ice tips are also available to use
outdoors in winter weather.
- Avoid slick conditions, such as wet
floors and snowy or icy driveways. In bad weather, be especially careful on
curbs and steps.
- Never use your walking aid to help you stand up or
sit down. Even if you still have one hand on your walking aid, put the other
hand on the surface you are sitting on or the arm of your chair. Use that hand
to guide you as you sit down, and to push with as you stand up. If you are less
steady on your feet, rest your walking aid securely nearby, so it doesn't fall
and you can reach it easily. And use both hands on the sitting surface to help
you sit down or stand up.
- Always use your strong or uninjured leg
to take the first step when you go up stairs or a curb (see instructions for
curbs and stairs below). When you go back down, step with your weak or injured
leg first. Remember "up with the good, and down with the bad" to help you lead
with the correct leg. Ask for help if you feel unsure about going up and, especially, down stairs.
Using a cane
If you are using a cane because one
leg is weak or painful, hold the cane on the opposite side from the weak or
painful leg. For example, if your right hip is sore, hold the cane in your left
If you are using the cane for a little help with balance and
stability, hold it in the hand you use less. If you are right-handed, you'll
probably want to hold the cane in your left hand to leave your right hand free
for other things.