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 or contact Care Direct 0345 1551 007 and ask 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, with arms hanging loosely at their side, the hand-grip of the stick should then reach 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
- Walking sticks can have shaped or padded handles for comfort that can be metal or wooden, 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 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 it on worktops 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