Using My 2 New Walking Canes!

Walking Cane Safety Step No. 5 – Learning to Walk and Climb Stairs with Your New Walking Cane

If you had asked her a few weeks ago, she would have said, “I will not use a walking cane!” “They are unsafe and will make me look like an old lady!” If you asked her today, 78-year-old Sophia would respond, “Of course I use a walking cane! They are so safe and they help me stay steady on my feet. I can go anywhere now!” If you pressed her about how using a walking cane made her look, she would smile, and with a twinkle in her eye, show you her two sparkling-new beautiful walking canes.

“Choose the walking cane that makes you feel the safest,” she now advises her friends. “Then choose a pattern and a colour that makes you feel alive! That way you will feel energized about taking a walk. You will get out in the fresh air, meet with friends, and improve your health.”

Sophia’s Walking Cane Choices

Sophia is a bit of a show-off now. She likes to use her “regular” walking cane most of the time. She chose a QuadPod offset cane in a beautifully subtle colour called “smoke”. She likes the four-pronged base/tip for safety reasons and loves the colour because it goes with all her clothes. When she wants to “bling” her walking cane (add a little extra pizzazz) she uses StrollMates cane coats in a variety of styles. She loves the “Lovely Lily” for its dressy spring and summer look and the “Black Classic” for its sporty yet classy look. Both cane coats look perfect with her smoke coloured QuadPod walking cane.Learning to Walk and Climb Stairs with Your New Walking Cane

Learning to Walk and Climb Stairs with Your New Walking CaneLearning to Walk and Climb Stairs with Your New Walking Cane

Sophia also chose a second walking cane. For someone who initially was unwilling to even consider using a cane, she has now become a walking cane enthusiast. Sofia’s second choice was a folding cane which she uses when walking short distances or when travelling with a friend in their car. When they reach their destination she just opens it up and walks with confidence and ease. She wanted her canes to make her look as young and energetic and she felt, so she chose the beautiful blue “Comfort-Plus” folding cane. The cushion-top grip and flex-grip tip make this flexible walking cane both comfortable and safe to use.

Learning to Walk and Climb Stairs with Your New Walking CaneLearning to Walk and Climb Stairs with Your New Walking Cane

When she want to “dress” her sporty folding cane, Sophia chooses StrollMates “Southwest Wind” coat or their “Navy Tartan” coat to add that extra “Bling”.

Learning to Walk and Climb Stairs with Your New Walking Cane

Although Sophia initially believed that canes are treacherous weapons to be used only in cases of self-defense, she has since learned that when care is taken to choose the correct size and style of walking cane, that such devices can be quite safe to use. Being able to walk safely was vital to Sophia and so she was eager to learn how to walk properly with her two new walking canes. These are the guidelines she followed:

How to Hold Your Walking Cane

  • If you are using a cane to help steady your step and make walking a little easier and safer for you, you should use your walking cane in the hand you use less frequently.
    If you are right-handed, use your cane in your left hand. This will leave your dominant hand available for opening doors or other tasks that require your best hand.
  • If you are using a cane to shift some of your weight off one leg because you have a little pain or weakness in that leg, you should hold your cane in the hand opposite to the weak leg.

Remember: Your walking cane is not meant to carry a large portion of your body weight. It is meant to take a little weight off your leg that has some pain, and to assist you with stability when walking. A walking cane is not a crutch. You should not expect to lift one foot off the ground and use your cane instead. Speak with your doctor or physiotherapist if you think you need to use crutches or a walker instead of a cane.

How to Use Your Walking Cane

When starting to walk, your first step should be with your weaker leg. Hold your walking cane close to your body and look forward, not down at your feet.

  • Swing your walking cane forward at the same time and the same distance in front of you as your first step with your weaker leg. Do not lean forward just take a natural step with both your weaker leg and your cane.
  • You can take some weight off your weaker leg with the cane but make sure your cane tip or your quad tip is firmly and squarely on the ground before putting any weight on your cane.
  • Your cane and your forward foot should be the same distance in front of you and you will have a little pressure on your cane to steady you.
  • Take your next step with your stronger leg and step past your cane.
  • Repeat by swinging your walking cane forward again, at the same time as you step forward with your weaker leg.
  • When turning or pivoting, use your stronger leg to pivot and step, then follow with your cane and weaker leg.

How to Climb Stairs with Your Walking Cane

When climbing stairs you want to take advantage of a banister or railing to help you. This may mean moving your cane to the other hand.

  • When climbing up stairs, hold on to the railing and hold your cane in the opposite hand.
  • Take the first step up with your stronger leg then step up with your cane and your weaker leg to meet your stronger leg. (You don’t need to take two stairs at a time – no matter what you did in your youth – and you don’t need to rush.)
  • When walking down stairs, hold on to the railing and hold your cane in the opposite hand.
  • Take the first step down with your cane first then your weaker leg, then bring your stronger leg down to meet your weaker leg. (Again, don’t rush.)
  • Repeat this exercise until you feel confident with your ability to climb and descend stairs.

How to Step Up and Down on a Curb

When you meet a curb while out walking with your cane you will not likely find a railing to assist you. This means you continue to hold your walking cane in the hand opposite to your weaker leg.

  • Just as you would while using stairs, step up first with your stronger leg then bring your cane and your weaker leg up to meet your stronger leg.
  • When stepping off a curb, step down first with your cane and your weaker leg then bring your stronger leg down to meet your weaker leg.
  • Don’t rush and remember to keep your balance before starting to climb or step down from a curb.

Some Final Safety Tips When Using Your Walking Cane

  • Make sure you are properly measured for your walking cane.
  • If you adjust the height of your walking cane, make sure all parts are snapped back into place securely.
  • Choose a type of walking cane that is comfortable to walk with and comfortable to hold.
  • Choose a type of walking cane tip that you can place squarely on the ground when walking.
  • Check your cane tips daily and replace any tips if they are worn.
  • Ensure you wear properly fitting shoes with rubber (not leather) soles.
  • To carry small items, when you go to the store, make sure you have a backpack, fanny pack or an over-the-shoulder bag that won’t slip off your shoulder.

It is a good idea to practise walking with your cane on a dry flat surface with no obstructions or clutter in front of you. If trying this at home, remove throw rugs and give your self some space to take several steps. You may wish to have a “buddy” walking with you as you start out. You should have a “buddy” with you when you first try climbing and descending stairs. The point to this is to develop an automatic walking pace that allows you to walk safely and comfortably while using a walking cane.

Sophia is enjoying using her new walking canes. She practices using safe walking habits and knows her two canes are safe and comfortable to use. She uses her walking canes without coats regularly because the canes look so good and make her feel young and energetic. When she wants a little extra “bling” she will choose a coat to wrap around her cane. She is a walking cane advocate now and has successfully encouraged others to use a cane properly and safely. You may meet Sophia when she is out with her walking cane. Hopefully, you will be able to say hello! Meanwhile, Sophia bids you a fond “à bientôt.”