The cane is one of those timeless tools we kind of take for granted. The fact is, as a walking aid, the cane should be used in certain situations and in certain ways.

A lot of people don't use walking canes when and how they need to. While this may not be a big deal, using a cane in the correct manner can result in faster recovery from an injury or simply more comfort and less pain overall.

So, when should you use a cane?

It's appropriate to use a cane for pretty much any condition, temporary or permanent, that causes slight pain and/or balance problems when walking. This may be due to injury, arthritis or weakness symptoms in the legs.

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The important thing to remember here is that canes are not the appropriate solution for major injuries or troubles. Crutches, a walker or even a wheelchair may be necessary, and of course a medical professional should help you decide this.

If you are about to start using a cane, it's also important to know how to use it, but it may surprise you that many, many people actually use canes the wrong way.

The wrong and right way to use a cane

The wrong way to use a cane is to use it on the same side as your bad leg. You should instead be using it on the opposite side of your bad leg.

This idea seems counter-intuitive to so many people. "Why would you want to use a cane on your good leg," they'll ask.

But when you think about it, using it this way makes the most sense. Naturally, when we walk, our left arm moves with our right leg, and vice versa. Therefore, when you come down with the cane using your left arm, it absorbs weight away from your hurt leg on the right side.

However, even if you tried to use the cane on the same side as your hurt leg, it wouldn't absorb as much weight, because your weight would be shifting toward your hurt side every time you came down on the cane.

There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if you have general balance problems unrelated to any leg pain or injury, then you should just use whichever hand you are most comfortable with and that gives you the most balance.

One last cane tip

Make sure the height of your cane is appropriate. The top of your cane should come up to about where your hip joint is, and your elbow should be at a slight, comfortable angle.

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