In Which Hand Should Hold Your Cane?

How to Properly Use a Cane While Walking

Low Section Of Woman Walking With Cane On Footpath
Jedrzej Kaminski / EyeEm / Getty Images

Canes can be used for many conditions, including injuries, arthritis, problems with balance, and after surgeries. A cane can help steady your gait and take pressure off of an injured leg or hip. Yet, if you're not using it properly, you will not feel its full benefits while walking.

One of the most common questions people ask of their physical therapist is which hand should hold the cane. It may surprise you to know that it's probably not the one you think it should be.

Which Hand Should Hold the Cane?

When using a cane, hold it in the hand opposite of the leg that needs support. This is far more efficient and helpful than holding it on your weak or injured side. Also, as you walk, you will move the cane at the same time as your weaker leg.

Think of it this way: hold the cane on your strong side and move it along with your weak side.

For example, if you have an injured right knee, hold the cane with your left hand. When you place your right leg out, swing the cane out with the leg. When placing pressure on the right leg, also place pressure on the cane with the left hand.

This method always gives you one steady brace while walking and relieves pressure by relying on your strong side. This, in turn, reduces pain.

Give it a try and take a few steps around the house to see if you notice the difference. If you were struggling with balance before, this small change should help out considerably and feel much safer.

More Tips

Canes are such simple devices that it seems like you can just pick one up and start walking, right? It's true that canes are easy-to-use walking aids, but there are a few tips that will help you get along a little better.

It's important that your cane is properly sized. Most canes can be easily adjusted to match your needs. The cane is generally sized to hip height so your elbow is slightly bent as you hold the cane at your side.

When climbing stairs, let your good leg lead. Once that is firmly planted on the higher step, follow with your cane and weaker leg. The exact opposite is true when going down stairs and you should lead with the injured leg.

A physical therapist interviewed by the Arthritis Foundation recommends the saying "Up with the good, down with the bad."

Those two tips should give you a good start for properly using your cane. To get the maximum benefit, it's a good idea to learn about common mistakes people make with canes so you can avoid them. Of course, if you have concerns or questions, speak with your physical therapist or doctor.

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Article Sources

  • Larson H. How to Choose the Right Cane. Arthritis Foundation.