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Walking stick guide

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Before you buy a walking stick, consider the points listed below:

  • Discuss your mobility needs with a healthcare professional. If you are at risk of falls please contact your GP to request a referral to the community team for an assessment at home for advice or equipment.
  • Check the stick is the right height for you: To measure for the correct height the user should stand as straight as possible, looking forward, with arms hanging loosely at their side. The hand grip of the stick should be level with the wrist joint. In this way the user should be able to stand and walk in a balanced symmetrical way with body weight taken through the stick and elbows slightly bent. For accuracy, it’s best to ask someone to measure the stick for you as shown in the diagram:

  • Walking sticks can have handles shaped for comfort or for ease of grip which can be metal or wooden. Walking sticks are either fixed height or height-adjustable
  • Folding sticks are convenient for transport but not as strong
  • Check the stick has the correct weight limit for you
  • All sticks should have a firmly fitted ferrule on the end to ensure the stick has stability when used for support when walking. Check ferrule regularly for damage and replace ferrules when damaged or worn

Walking with a stick

When walking, a stick should be held in the hand opposite the affected leg and be placed on the ground at the same time as the affected leg. Sticks should be used with the handle facing backwards.  Using 2 sticks requires more coordination and advice from a physiotherapist is recommended.

Holding the stick when not in use

Some sticks have a wrist strap that can be used to keep the stick close to keep the stick close when not walking. These can become a trip hazard if the stick drags or moves in front of your feet when starting to walk. Clips, magnets, and hooks can be added to the top of the stick to hold the stick on work tops or other furniture and keep them close at hand when not in use.

When using stairs

Hold onto a handrail if possible.  The stick goes on the same step as the affected leg. The unaffected leg should lead when going up the stairs and the affected leg should lead when coming down