How do you use a cane?

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A comfortable cane grip prevents unnecessary joint pain
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Learning how do you use a cane reduces falls and eases stress

Canes have the simple, often elegant design of a fashion accessory, but theyíre an essential aid for anyone who has trouble walking. But how do you use a cane when youíve walked without assistance for your entire life?

Walking with a cane is not complicated, but itís important to distribute your weight correctly whether youíre walking, standing or going up stairs. With a little practice, your body will learn to move with the cane naturally.

Whether youíre older, healing from an injury or dealing with balance problems, the right cane will prevent falls and help you get around. Ask your caregiver for advice when choosing a cane, and consider these tips from the Mayo Clinic before buying one online.

  • If the cane is primarily for balance, try a standard cane with one tip.   
  • If the cane is needed to bear weight, use one with four tips at the bottom, known as a offset cane.    
  • Check the bend of your elbow to determine the right fit. When standing with the cane in hand, your elbow should only have to bend at about 15 degrees, and the handle should align with your wrist.     

Walking with a cane

When walking with your cane, hold it in the hand that is opposite the weaker leg. Keep your elbow close to the body for stability, and move the cane so itís in-step with the weaker leg. The rubber tip(s) should touch the ground about 4 inches in front of the stronger leg. Shift your weight to the stronger leg if youíre using the cane for support. If youíre using the cane for balance, hold it on the side that feels comfortable.

Sitting down with a cane

Stand with the back of your legs against the chair, and set the cane to the chairís side. With your weight shifted to the stronger leg, reach back and hold the chairís arms. Lower yourself down slowly and inch back into the seat.

Getting up from a chair

Hold onto the caneís handle with your cane hand, and then place both hands on the chair arms. Lift yourself slowly and put your good foot slightly forward.

Using steps with a cane

Steps require extra care when youíre using a cane. Hold on to the railing with one hand and your cane with the other, and step up with the strong leg first. Move the cane up one stair then step with the weaker leg. When moving down stairs with a cane, position the cane on the next step down, and then step with the weak leg. 

  • Folding canes make traveling much easier.  
  • Mind your tip(s). The rubber tip on the bottom end of the cane is what keeps it from slipping. Check the tip from time to time, and if it tears buy a replacement tip.  
  • Use a backpack or bag to carry items, but donít try to carry anything too heavy when youíre still getting accustomed to the cane.  
  • Wear shoes with rubber soles to reduce the chances of a fall.  

Learning how to use a cane will have a significant impact on your quality of life. Canes can help you recover from knee injuries, reduce stress and, most importantly, help you get on with your life.


Mayo Clinic

Ortho Info

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