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Using a Cane

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Using a cane continued...

Hold the cane close to your body so you can push straight down on it. If you feel as though you need to put a lot of weight on the cane because your balance is not good or you have significant pain or weakness, talk to your doctor about trying crutches or a walker.

Be sure your cane fits you. When you stand up in your normal posture with the cane tip on the ground, the handle of the cane should be next to the top of your leg. Your elbow should be slightly bent.

A cane can help if you have minor problems with balance or steadiness on your feet. It can also help take a little weight off one leg by shifting some weight to the cane. Your doctor may recommend a cane if you just need a little help walking comfortably and safely.

To walk using a cane

The best way to think about walking with a cane is that you are taking normal steps and just moving the cane when you would normally swing your arm forward.

Move the cane at the same time as the opposite leg, just as though you were swinging your arm. For example, if you are holding the cane in your left hand, move the cane forward when you step with your right foot. If you are using the cane because of a painful or weak leg, you will be moving that leg at the same time as the cane.

  1. Set the cane comfortably ahead of you, so it is even with the foot you are stepping with. Don't lean forward to reach farther.
  2. Step past the cane with the other foot.
  3. Repeat.

To go up or down a curb using a cane

Try this first with another person nearby to steady you if needed.

  1. Stand near the edge of the curb, and get your balance.
  2. If you are going up, step up with your stronger leg, then bring your other leg and the cane up to meet it. If you are going down, move the cane down first. Step down with your weaker leg first, then bring your stronger leg down to meet it. Remember "up with the good, and down with the bad" to help you lead with the correct leg.
  3. Get your balance again before you start walking.

To use your cane on stairs

Try this first with another person nearby to steady you if needed.

If a banister is available, hold on to the banister, and use your cane in the opposite hand. You will still step with the stronger leg first to go up stairs, and with the weaker leg first to go down stairs.

  1. Stand near the edge of the stairs.
  2. If you are going up, step up with your stronger leg first, then bring your other leg and the cane up to meet it. If you are going down, move the cane down first. Step down with your weaker leg, then bring your stronger leg down to meet it.
  3. Repeat.
  4. When you reach the level surface, get your balance again before you start walking.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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