How to choose a walking stick

There are various types of mobility devices on the market and sometimes it’s hard to know which one is best for you. This article will explore some of the reasons a walking stick can be useful, explain the different types of walking sticks, and show you how to select the right one for you.

Find out if a walking stick is the right solution 

Before you buy a walking stick, you first need to work out if it’s the right option for you. 

There are many different situations where someone might want to get a walking stick. Maybe you are looking for something to improve your own stability. Or perhaps you want to help increase the safety of someone you know.  

Whatever the situation, if you are having regular falls, it’s always best to check with your doctor as the reasons could be caused by loss of balance or strength in which a device may help.  

However, the lack of balance could also be due to blackouts due to low blood pressure or dizziness, caused by lack of oxygen. Medication can also lead to dizziness. In these cases, a mobility aid is less likely to help you and could even cause more harm if you were to fall on it. 

Check with your medical professional to determine the underlying cause of your instability before purchasing a walking stick. 

Types of walking sticks 

The main types of walking sticks are the standard cane or walking stick, the quad stick, and the folding or travel stick. 

Standard walking stick

A photo of a t-handled talking stick

This is the most common type of walking stick. They come in a crook handle or T-handle. There are many variations to this, such as foam to make it more comfortable to press on. You can even get some T-shaped handles specifically made to fit your hand. 

The most important thing when using a walking stick is ensuring it’s at the right height for you. It should be positioned at about where your wrist bone sits when your arm is relaxed at your side. 

Some people worry that a walking stick will make them look older, but it can also do the reverse because it can improve your mobility a lot. 

Also, some walking sticks come with funky designs so they don’t have to look stale and boring. 

Quad stick

A photo of a walking stick with a four-pronged base

The quad stick is a type of talking stick that has a wider base of support at the end. 

This can be in the form of four-pronged stoppers, or a solid base with stoppers. 

Quad sticks provide a lot of stability and even stand up by themselves. 

However, you need to walk slowly with them to ensure that all four stoppers are on the floor at the same time, otherwise you’ll lose the stability it offers. 

Folding stick

A photo of a walking stick that's folded up 

The folding or travel walking stick is a wonderfully portable device that’s great if you’re going on holiday, or just to leave in the car for when you’re out. 

It’s the same concept as a standard stick except it folds down, just like tent poles. 

It's very compact and could even fit in your bag. 

Once you’ve adjusted the height of the folding stick to suit you, you can fold and unfold it and it will be ready to go when you need it. 

How to walk with a walking stick 

When walking with a stick, make sure you’re using it on the opposite side to your bad leg. In other words, use the stick on the side of your good leg. 

This may seem counter intuitive, and some people do instinctively want to use the stick on the side of their bad leg. 

But this actually puts more pressure on your bad leg, which you want to avoid. 

As you step with your “bad” leg, move the stick forwards at the same time. Think about marching and how the opposite arm swings to the forward leg.  

Buying a walking stick 

When buying a walking stick, first seek advice to make sure the problem isn’t better solved by medication or something else. 

When you’ve found a stick you like, try it out to make sure it feels right and will support you. 

Adjust the height to suit you and walk around with it before purchasing to make sure it’s right.