Walking sticks are a necessary walking aid for many people, giving a new lease of life for daily struggles. They’ve been around for several centuries and continue to provide support and aids to walking for people with medical conditions and the elderly. But how do you go about choosing the right stick, especially if you will use it for many years?
First Steps: Identify The Reasons You Need a Walking Stick
Naturally, your first response would be that you struggle to walk without assistance. However, there are a number of different considerations in choosing a walking stick. Is your need temporary (for example, following surgery to aid your recovery) or is it a long-term thing tied to age or long-term illness that will not get better? Which you choose will depend on your answer to those questions, but some other factors too.
The first thing you will need to think about is the material. The main advantage of metal walking sticks is that they are sturdy, light (easy to carry) and cheap. Some are conveniently foldable and extendable meaning greater flexibility when mobile. You can fold it up and put it in your bag or coat pocket. The main advantages to wooden walking sticks are that they are attractive, traditional and can carry a lot of weight. They have greater longevity in that they do not get weaker when they corrode.
Off the Shelf or Custom Made?
There is far greater range of walking sticks available today and it is not just about the material type. CareCo supplies a good range of walking sticks off the shelf sized. However, these standard sizes are not always suitable for all users. If you have an unusual or irregular body shape, you may benefit more from a custom-made stick. These are more expensive, but they are designed for your unique body proportions for maximum comfort and mobility.
Urban or Rural Walking?
The stick you choose can also depend on your living environment. Town and city dwellers will often get on very well with a standard stick, even on hills. Where the ground is regular and smooth, they should be sufficient. However, if you live rurally or travel regularly on uneven ground – or simply like to walk in the country and won’t let a lack of mobility stop you, you may consider choosing a stick with a tripod base. These add extra support over non-regular ground, but you won’t move quite so fast.
What is Your Balance Like?
Those with poor balance may prefer a walking stick with a tripod base. You should also consider an adjustable model, which would mean a metal rather than a wooden stick. Walking sticks are not just walking aids, but balance aids for those with problems in their back or legs that require extra support. That also means lightweight foldable sticks may not be suitable for you. You will require something heavier in this case and wood is your best choice.
Consider the Handle Type
Today’s walking sticks come with a variety of handle types.
Anatomic handles: Designed to fit the shape of the hand, they improve general comfort and support more weight. These are ideal for people with rheumatism or arthritis in the hands.
Crook handles: An aesthetic and traditional choice, they are easier to hang up on chairs and coat hooks. However, some feel they lack comfort on the grip.
Right angle handle: A variation on the crook handle, they are designed to be more comfortable for the hands. For those who want a traditional wooden stick but with more comfort.
Swan neck handle: Designed as another variation on the crook handle, they allow for more weight on the stick, improving balance and support.