Although 10.2% of Americans over the age of 65 use canes for stability, there are people of all ages who rely on these mobility aids to maintain their balance and allow them to get from point A to point B. But for those who have just received their custom walking canes and are about to use them for the first time, learning how to use them properly can be a bit intimidating. To help ease your anxieties, we've put together five tips for using wooden canes that first-timers should keep in mind.
- Keep your eyes up
It's only natural for new cane users to look down at their custom walking canes as they move. After all, it's an unfamiliar sensation and takes some getting used to. But you'll adjust much more quickly if you keep your eyes straight ahead, rather than on the ground underneath you. Using a cane will start to feel natural before you know it and you won't run the risk of running into people or objects you miss by looking down.
- Stay close
If you've never used a cane before, you might have a tendency to move it too far out in front of you when you walk. As a general rule, you should keep your cane close to your body. When you move forward, your cane should travel the distance of an average step with you. If you feel like you're constantly trying to catch up to your cane or that it's dragging behind you, you're not moving it at a proper distance. Your weight should come straight down on the cane, rather than on the end of the handle. This will ensure you're safe and that your cane will stay in good working order.
- Watch out for bad weather
Ice and snow can be dangerous even for seasoned cane users. While a cane will certainly provide better stability than you'd otherwise have, you'll need to exercise caution when using a cane in wet or otherwise treacherous conditions. You should avoid traveling on wet floors or driveways covered with snow and ice, even with a cane. However, you can equip your cane with ice tips for outdoor use. Always be careful on steps and curbs in inclement weather and clean off your cane's rubber tips to prevent slips and falls.
- Favor your good side
A lot of first-time users are under the impression that their cane should be used on their weaker side to compensate. Actually, your cane should go in the hand that's on your stronger side. This shifts your body weight to the stronger part of your body but still gives support to your weaker side. Your cane and weaker side should move together (to share the load, so to speak), but your cane should reside on your stronger side.
- Remember "up with the good and down with the bad"
There's a mantra that you might want to remember when you climb stairs: up with the good, down with the bad. When you're climbing up a flight of stairs, your "good" (or strong) leg should move first. Then, your affected leg and cane should follow together. But when you go down stairs, your "bad" side should lead -- first with the cane, then with the weaker leg (not simultaneous). This will make the process much more streamlined and safe.
We hope these tips will help keep you safe, comfortable, and confident when using your custom walking canes for the first time. Now, all you'll have to do is pick the cane that works best for your needs and implement these tips when you use it! Contact us today to get started.