Which Side Do You Use a Cane On?

How to Properly Use a Cane While Walking

When using a cane, it's important to hold it on the side that's opposite the leg needing support. That helps to steady your walk and take pressure off the injured leg or hip.

Holding a cane properly can help enhance balance and mobility. One in six adults ages 65 and up use mobility aids, with canes being the most common. Knowing how to use a cane properly while walking, sitting, and other scenarios is important, especially since using a cane improperly can actually increase your risk of falls.

This article explains how to hold a cane correctly and includes a few tips on how to find the right type and size of cane for you.

Woman in a skirt walking with a cane
Jedrzej Kaminski / EyeEm / Getty Images

Which Side to Use a Cane On

When using a cane, you should 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. 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 for Using a Cane

Research shows that a large portion of people who use canes and other mobility aids eventually stop using them, in part due to a lack of awareness about their cane or other device.

If you are new to using a cane or want to use one more effectively, take some time to practice in a controlled environment, such as your home or neighborhood.


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—then 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."

Sizing a Cane

It's important that your cane is properly sized. Most canes can be easily adjusted to match your needs. The cane is generally sized so the handle is at the level of your wrist when your arm rests at your side. This way, your elbow is slightly bent as you hold the cane while standing.

Of course, if you have concerns or questions, speak with your physical therapist or doctor.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. West B, Bhat G, Stevens J, Bergen G. Assistive device use and mobility-related factors among adults aged ≥ 65 years. J Safety Res. 2015 Dec;55(1):147-150. doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2015.08.010

  2. Zhang Y, Tao C, Zhang X, Guo J, Fan Y. Effects of cane use on the kinematic and kinetic of lower-extremity joints in inexperienced users. J Biomechanics. 2023 Jan;1(146):111426.

  3. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. Using a cane.

Additional Reading

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.