Practical tips for selecting canes and walkers

Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource has published a review.

You’ll need a subscription to read the entire article, but here’s a summary, courtesy of Medical News Today.


  • Provide balance and support for walking.
  • Support up to 25% of body weight.
  • The top of the cane should reach the crease of the wrist when the user is standing straight with arms hanging comfortably.
  • A cane that’s too long puts strain on the arms, shoulders and back muscles.
  • Too short, a cane throws off balance.
  • Normally, a cane is held in the hand opposite of the weaker side.
  • When used for stability, it can be held in either hand.


  • Provide a wider base of support and stability.
  • Support up to 50% of body weight
  • Helpful for moderately severe balance and gait problems, or when there’s a risk of falling.
  • Available in 0, 2, and 4 wheel designs
    • No wheels give best stability
    • 2 wheels when the user places a moderate amount of weight on the walker.
    • 4 wheels for those who don’t have to lean on the walker.

The bottom line?
Yes, they’re a sign of aging and disability.

On the other hand, they help avoid injury and maintain independence.

3/28/09 21:20 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.