How to Walk with a Cane Correctly

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Using a cane or a crutch when you have an injury can be very confusing especially when characters on TV shows don't even use them right! So let me show you how to walk with a cane correctly. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes very easy and natural. When we walk normally, our opposite arm swings forward with our opposite leg. When using a cane, you want the same technique so you don't risk injuring something else while you are recovering.

The most important part to start with is to make sure your cane is the right height. Most canes have a pin you can push in to change the height. On your upper leg there is a bone that sticks out called your greater trochanter. It is just below your hip. This is where you want the top of the cane. You should have a slight bend in your elbow about 20 degrees.  If the cane is too high, you might irritate your shoulder, and if it is too low, you might lean over too much.

Now for the walking part. The cane should be in the opposite hand of the injured side.  Yes, House, MD did it wrong! The cane should always move with the injured side. If the injured side goes forward, the cane goes forward for support. Again, this is how our bodies naturally move; so don't think about it too much. Just move how you would normally move. The cane should be for balance and safety, and if you feel like you are pushing really hard on it, or if you can't walk smoothly, then you probably are not ready for a cane yet.


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