If you’re not feeling confident on your feet, you may feel that you would benefit from a walking aid. There are a range of aids you can use to help you to walk more safely; these can serve a number of functions:
- Giving greater stability by giving a wider base of support than your feet alone
- Helping to improve your posture and walking pattern
- Giving you an increased sense of confidence
- Transferring the weight from going through your legs to part of it going through your arms; this is particularly useful if you suffer from pain in your joints
Using a Walking Aid Safely
Remember it is important to use the walking aid as directed. Selecting the right aid will ensure the aid is a benefit to you, rather than increasing your risk of mobility problems.
We recommend that a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist assess you with your walking aid, to ensure you have the right aid and that it is set up correctly.
These are the most simple form of walking aid and are widely available. You can choose metal or wooden versions. To set the stick to the correct height, the handle should be in line with the bony point on the outside of your wrist. It is important your stick has a rubber ferrule on the end to keep the stick stable.
Some variations are available. These include moulded handles (sometimes called Fischer sticks); some people find these more comfortable. Tripods and Quadrupods are also available, these give more stability than a standard stick and are often used by those who only have good use of one arm.
These items are commonly used as part of a rehabilitation programme, for example while recovering from a knee replacement. They are useful for offloading weight from your legs. As with walking sticks, to set the stick to the correct height, the handle should be in line with the bony point on the outside of your wrist. It is important your stick has a rubber ferrule on the end to keep the stick stable. To make the crutch more comfortable, you can use a gel handgrip.
As these have more points of contact with the floor, they offer more stability than crutches or sticks. These frames, commonly known as Zimmer frames, have the option of two wheels on the front. This allows the frame to move more smoothly but make them a little less stable. The height of the frame should be measured by the rubber hand grips being in line with the bony point of the outside of your wrist.
It is important to consider your home environment with a zimmer frame, a range of width options are available so ensure you have one that will fit through your doorways.
These are widely available, with the options of three or four wheels. They are a good option as a way of getting out and about. To set these items to the correct height, the handles should be in line with the bony area on the outside of the wrist when the elbow is slightly bent.
Four wheeled walkers tend to be wider but usually have a seat that you can sit on to rest when your out and about. It is important to remember that sometimes people feel that these items “run away from them” due to the wheels.