Choosing The Right Walking Stick
Which walking stick is right for you?
When it comes to choosing a walking stick a lot of people don’t give it much thought, but to get the most benefit from a walking stick it needs to be suited to you, and your needs.
Walking sticks are ideal for assisting with balance and decreasing weight on a leg. They can aid walking after an injury, surgery or disability; and are great for people who need that little bit of extra support. Walking sticks can also indicate to others that you might need a bit more space as you walk.
Handle material and shape
Walking stick handles are most often made from either foam, rubber, plastic, or wood. Wood and plastic options provide greater durability. Whereas foam and rubber handles can offer more comfort if you experience pain or arthritis in your hands, or have trouble grasping with your fingers.
The handles come in varying shapes including t-shaped, offset, swan neck and crook. When choosing a walking stick consider the handle size too. Something too small can give an insufficient grip.
Straight walking sticks
These are standard, single point sticks that usually have a crook handle or T-shaped ergonomic handle. They’re usually made of aluminium or wood. Most of the aluminium styles are height adjustable and some fold up. Straight walking sticks are best suited for people who are looking for a bit of support or balance or have a slight walking impairment.
Folding walking sticks
If you only need a walking stick occasionally, having one that can fold up and be stored in your handbag, drawer or glovebox can be quite convenient. Folding sticks come in a range of bright colours and designs. Pick the one you love or have several one to match each outfit! They typically fold into four sections and then spring into shape when released from their bag. Folding sticks are also height adjustable.
Offset/swan neck walking sticks
These can also be single point straight sticks but come with a swan neck curve at the top of the stick up to the handle. The swan neck offsets your weight to be directly over the stick’s tip for added stability. These sticks are made of aluminium and are height adjustable. Offset-handle sticks are best suited for people who have a slight walking impairment.
Quad walking sticks
Quad sticks come with four separate tips at the base, they have an offset swan neck handle, and can remain standing when you let go – which can be a real lifesaver for some. Quad sticks are available in a large or small base and provide more support than a standard straight stick.
Keep in mind though, due to the size of their base, quad sticks can be a potential tripping hazard. Quad walking sticks are suited for maximum weight bearing, balance and control.
The ferrule is the rubber foot found on the bottom tip of the walking stick. The ferrule should provide good grip and carry your weight without losing its shape.
Check the ferrule on your walking stick regularly as it will wear with use and need replacing. A worn and bald ferrule will have lost its grip making the walking stick unsafe.
Buying and fitting your walking stick
At Independent Living we stock a full range of walking sticks that you can view and purchase online, or visit one our stores and an assistive technology specialist will help you select the right one for you.
Once you’ve found your perfect walking stick let us help you fit it to the right height for you. Plus we can give you a few handy tips on walking with your new stick.