How To Use A Cane For Balance

how to use a cane for balance

You may have the best cane for balance but if you don’t know how to use a cane for balance, the risk of falls and an injury will never be too far away.

Whether you have a bad leg, messed biomechanics, or just want to improve stability, it’s crucial that you learn the correct way to use a cane.

Now, Let’s go straight to the point and learn how to use a cane like a pro for support:

Here is a sneak peek of what you expect:

  • A step by step guide on how to use a cane for balance
  • The right side to use a cane on
  • How to use a cane with a bad knee
  • How to use a cane after knee surgery
  • How to use a cane with back pain
  • How to use a cane on stairs
  • Understanding different types of walking canes
  • Benefits for using a cane

Step By Step Instructions On How To Use A Cane For Balance

 how to walk with a cane

So, how do you use a cane properly?

First, the basics:

Begin by adjusting the cane’s height appropriately.

Then, when standing upright, ensure that the top (of your cane) is reaching the crease in the wrist.

In the meantime, your elbow should bend slightly when you grasp the cane.

Moving on, before placing your weight, the tip/tips must be firmly on the ground. Furthermore, to be on the safe side, look forward when walking and never down at the floor /feet.

Still there, move slowly since it can sometimes take a bit of time to get used to a cane.

Finally, pivot your body weigh on your okay leg and not your weakened leg while keeping your back straight as much as you can.

The Steps:

As a general rule, let the cane be a stride ahead and go off first on your bad leg. The good leg steps off last.

  1. Stand firmly gripping your cane.
  2. Step onwards with the weak leg.
  3. After stepping forward with the weaker leg, swing your cane an equal distance in front. Ideally, the tip (of the cane) and your advanced foot should be at an equal distance.
  4. Relieve some weight off the ailing leg by applying pressure on your cane.
  5. Now step past your cane with the strong leg.
  6. Next, re-step forward using the bad leg, then swing the cane and move with the good leg. And so forth.

Which Side Do You Use A Cane On?

For optimum balance, hold that cane on the side that doesn’t require support (opposite the weakest).

This is to say that if it’s your right leg that has problems, you will hold the walking aid on the left hand and vice versa.

That’s the simple answer to the question: Do you use a cane on the good or bad side?

Why Do You Use A Cane On The Opposite Side Of The Injury?

By holding the cane on the alternate side, you create a steady supportive base while walking because it eases the pressure on your painful side.

Again, handling a cane using the opposite hand replicates your natural arm movement which swings on the side opposing the forward feet helping to absorb weight as you walk.

Still, by relying on the able side, you will have a robust backup in case you stumble accidentally.

How To Use A Cane With A Bad Knee

Now to another question: How do you use a cane for knee pain?

Well, a cane helps bear your weight which your knee can’t while paining. Canes are used on the converse that is on the opposite side (the side that’s not injured) for the best balance and support.

You will move your cane alongside your weakened leg as you step forward. Then place the cane down simultaneously with the weaker leg’s foot (as you step).

Try to transfer your weight from the bad knee to the cane by pressuring it as you take the next step forward this time the strong leg leading.

How To Use A Cane After Knee Surgery

When recuperating from knee surgery, this is how you walk:

  1. Hold your cane in the hand on the side opposite the side with the recovering knee.
  2. Advance the cane forward about a stride ahead. Be sure all tips are in contact with the floor.
  3. Step forward- still on the leg whose knee is healing.
  4. Gently press down the cane to reinforce your stability. Advance the other leg slightly past the first foot.
  5. Keep repeating the cycle.

How To Use A Cane With Back Pain

By improving balance, walking sticks also help to ease back pain. It’s crucial that you maintain the right posture when walking if you have some backache.

You will still be centering your body weight on the cane so as to stabilize back muscles which reduce the lingering pain.

It’s also important to take breaks when climbing to allow the muscles to relax as a way of managing the pain.

How To Use A Cane On Stairs

When climbing stairs, hold your walking cane with the hand opposite your injured leg. Then grasp the handrail with your other free hand.

Now step up starting with your good leg followed by the injured leg.

When coming down, place the cane  first on the step, followed by your injured leg; lastly your good leg.

You should take one step each time.

What Are Walking Canes?

A walking cane is an assistive walking stick and an immensely popular mobility aid. The best canes for elderly help prevent fall by steadying a senior as they walk around running their daily errands or when out in search of fresh air.

Canes make walking safe by increasing the supporting base and redistributing load to the stronger leg.

Walker canes will ensure that you can climb stairs, move about on flat surfaces indoors, and enjoy an evening walk without help.

Types Of Walking Canes

Best walking cane for seniors come in various varieties with each suited to specific conditions:

1.     Quad Canes

A quad cane is very similar to the standard cane but for a metallic base which is usually fitted with four small feet.

These feet usually have rubber caps to help reduce slippage. Quad canes are typically height adjustable and comprise of lightweight aluminum.

Because of a reinforced base and the four feet, a quad provides excellent stability including on stairways.  Quad canes can also stand next to the user when seated without falling over.

2.     Folding canes

A folding cane has several joints linked by an elastic cord allowing it to fold into a shortened length when not being used.

Since they fold up so easily (and stores away smartly), folding canes can be great medically supportive devices for daily travel and other everyday uses.

Whether going for a short trip out of town, an evening dinner trip or for an extended family holiday at a faraway resort, walking canes make the journey convenient.

3.     Tripod Walking Canes

As the name suggests, a tripod cane has three legs on its base and often comes with a comfortable attached seat.

The positioning of cane’s three legs further from its vertical center gives the tripod an improved leverage even on uneven floors.

The very able tripod platform is made of super lightweight materials (e.g. Aluminum) making the cane quite friendly for weak elders.

4.     Single Point Canes

These canes have one support point on its end.  They’re the most dominant types of walking cane.

5.     Seat Canes

These firm medical-grade walking aids come with foldable seats. You unfold the seat and sit down whenever you feel the need to catch a breath.

The sitting feature helps senior to bear with queues and can provide a restful sitting place in stadiums or when on an adventure.

6.     The C-Cane

The c-cane gets its name from its c-shaped hook used as a handle.

C-canes are best for people who need very little assistance, when out and about, for example, those recovering from a minor injury or an accident.

It will give you the little extra stability you may need to accomplish daily tasks efficiently and effectively.

7.     Ergonomic Canes

Ergonomic walking canes adapt to fit your hand bringing the most comfort and reducing pressure.  By relieving pressure, they help people with weak grip to walk safely with a cane.

Also note that ergonomic canes are available in myriad variations including wood canes and adjusting canes.

How Do You Know When You Need A Cane?

The answer to the question of how you will know that you need a cane varies greatly.

Some of the instances you would find using a cane for balance helpful includes:

  • In the aftermath of a knee surgery
  • After suffering a stroke
  • If poor balance makes you feel insecure when walking.
  • In managing lower extremity fractures
  • If you have arthritis or a disability
  • If walking up/down the stairs is a challenge

You can also contact your doctor before picking a walking cane just to be sure.

Either way, overall, the best cane for balance problems keep you on your feet despite a nagging leg injury or disability.

Here Are Benefits For Using A Cane

Before we look at the question of what side do you use a cane, here are the reasons for needing a cane:

  • Quickens Recovery

Experts contend that by using the best walking cane for back pain, you assuage the pressure on your backbone helping to shorten the time it takes to heal completely.

Using a cane correctly can also reduce the suffering caused by related ailments.

For instance, walking canes with anatomically shaped palm handles are available for both left and right hands and can easily be used by arthritics with poor grip.

  • Multi-Purpose Tool

Some walking canes have a decorative knob cum handle and can function as a contemporary fashion accessory besides providing extra balance.

On a similar note, some elders use them as a self-defense weapon.

  • They Enhance Safety When Walking.

Many senior citizens refuse to walk for fear of a bad fall or injuries if they feel frail or have weak muscles.

As an assistive device, a walking cane is safe and enables him/her to remain independent and lead a normal life.

This also helps create positivity and confidence in the elderly person’s mind.

  • Canes Are good For His/Her Health

A walking aid encourages you to walk further thanks to the reduced fatigue. This increased love for walking is good for your overall health as the activity is known to minimize the risk of numerous chronic diseases.

This is precisely why physical therapists recommend a walking helper as a first step in gradually improving a seniors’ fitness level.

  • Improves Posture

Knowing how to use a cane properly can help keep your body properly aligned which also improves your balance.

Additionally, misaligned posture interferes with proper joints function and can cause joint pain with every step.

Things You Need to Know Before Using Your Walking Cane

To benefit from using your cane, you’ll need to first know how to walk with a cane. Secondly, to get the best out of your walking tool, prepare yourself and your cane.

Here is how:

  • Adjust The Cane To Size

An improperly sized cane may make you feel uncomfortable when walking in addition to possibly causing strain on sensitive areas like your shoulders or back.

For this reason, you should always set your cane to an optimal length. Take your measurements and adjust your walking assistant to the perfect length.

  • Wear Good Walking Shoes

Even if you have the best walking cane for stability, it’s hard to see how you will walk with a pair of ill-fitting or too tight shoes.

Comfortable shoes normalize your gait, reduce pain (if any) and maintain your balance. An outstanding pair should be sturdy non-skid soles and preferably, have padded insoles. On other hand, shoes with heels are considered riskier.

  • Feel Your Cane For Comfort and Style

Also make sure that your chosen cane meets your comfort and style expectations. Avoid canes which seem old school (if style matters to you) or those that force you to hold it awkwardly as they may.

Some of the best canes for support include the ergonomic, orthopedic, and quad canes. Other walking canes may also be suitable but it depends on your needs.

  • Follow Advice

Even as you train proper use of a cane, you can seek advice from your doctor or therapist. In most cases, they may give a word or two about which side to use cane especially where you’ve been under their observation due to an injury.

Following the issued instructions can make your world a whole lot easier.

  • De-Clutter The Floors And Ensure They Are Dry

Remove any clutter from the surfaces and ensure it’s dry. Obviously, slippery floors are a big no!

How High Should A Cane Be?

If your cane is set too high, you don’t get enough support and if it’s too low, you will probably slump and be at the risk for falling.

To get the correct height, this is what you do:

Method 1:

Hold the cane (on the usual side) and stand upright while wearing your walking shoes. The tip of your cane should be resting on the floor.

Next, while holding the cane’s handle, check that the cane comes to the same level as your hip bone (upper thigh side). If not, adjust it to the said height.

Now assess your elbow’s angle when holding the handle. It (elbow) should be bent about 20 degrees for the maximum comfort. You change the angle if necessary.

Method 2:

Alternatively, stand with the walking cane on your right side. Its top should be level with your wrist when you hang your arm comfortably at your appointed side.

If not, modify the standing height.


That’s it. Your answer to your lingering questions on how to use a cane for balance and what side do you use a cane on among others.

In short, we have seen that you will always handle the cane on the good side (leg opposite the weakened the bad leg) as it will alleviate pressure from the unwell side.

This should allow you to walk further, safely, and comfortably and importantly, to remain independent.

In other words, knowing how to use the best canes for elderly can be priceless!

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