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How to Choose a Walking Stick

How to correctly size a Walking Stick

Walking sticks provide a basic level of support and are designed to assist with balance and/or decrease weight on an affected leg.

A range of handle styles are available including t-shaped, offset, crook, swan neck and ergonomic (or arthritic) handles, which are designed to provide additional support under the palm.

Four-point sticks (also known as quad sticks) provide a wider base of support than the more common single point walking stick, however, they can also create a potential tripping hazard due to their increased side width.

  1. How to correctly measure the height for a walking stick:

To measure the height of any walking stick, the base of the stick should be placed approximately 15cm from the outside of the foot and the handle height should be set at the wrist crease height. The elbow should be bent slightly (generally between 15 and 30 degrees) when holding the stick and standing upright.

  1. Put on the user's walking shoes.
  2. Have the user stand naturally upright as much as possible.
  3. Have their arms fall to the sides naturally with a normal relaxed bend at the elbow. (Please see Diagram A for correct posture)
  4. Using a tape measure, measure the distance from their wrist joint (bottom crease at the wrist) down to the floor. Round up to the nearest half inch (or cm).

(Please note: For accurate length a second person must read measurement to prevent wrist from moving)

Another option is to measure the length of their existing walking stick. To do this:

Simply measuring from the lowest part on the top of the handle to the bottom of the rubber tip. Round up to the nearest half inch (or cm).

The end result should look like this:

  1. How to use different walking sticks:

Walking sticks are usually used on the unaffected or strongest side of the body (the “good leg”) but this may depend on individual preference and abilities. The stick should be placed forward at the same time as the affected leg and then the unaffected leg follows.

If using two sticks at the same time, a four-point gait may be used by bringing one stick forward, then the opposite leg, then the other stick, followed by the other opposite leg.

Four point sticks with an offset base should be positioned so that the straight side of the base is nearest to the body. All points of the stick should maintain contact with the ground when the stick is placed down.

To negotiate going up steps and stairs, lift the unaffected leg up first, then the stick and the affected leg onto the same step. To travel down, the stick and the affected leg should be lowered first, then the unaffected leg down to the same step.


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