The general rule does that you should use your walking stick on the opposite side to your injured knee or leg. You might find yourself wondering what the reason behind holding your cane in this position is.
Now, the reason why you should use a cane on the opposite side of the injury is it becomes more efficient in helping you maintain stability when walking. Using your cane in this position helps relieve stress from your injured side, thus reducing pain and discomforts when walking.
In this guide, we’ll dig deeper into the correct position to use your walking cane on, why you shouldn’t use cane on weak side, and more.
Which side do you use a cane on?
As we have just mentioned above, the right side you should use your on is the one opposite to the injured side. This is a more efficient position to help you enjoy the full benefits of the walking stick.
This is how you hold your cane:
If you have injured your right leg or knee, then you should have your left hand on cane. As you start walking, you should swing out the right (injured) leg at the same time as you swing the walking stick out. And as you place pressure on your injured leg, make sure you put pressure on your cane as well with the left hand.
If you use your cane this way, you’ll enjoy a steady brace while walk. You’ll be able to remove pressure on your weak side, thus significantly reducing pain.
Why don’t you use a cane on the injured side?
If you have been wondering why your physiotherapist stated that you should use your walking cane on the opposite hand and not on the injured side, it is to help you relieve as much pain as possible from your weak side.
Don’t get it? Let’s get into the reasoning behind how hand holding cane on the strong side helps reduce pain on your injured side.
Let’s say you injured your left leg, it could be an injured or sprained ankle, and you have one walking cane to help you feel comfortable and less pain when walking.
Picture this scenario already? Good!
Now, assume you’re walking with the injured leg, without the cane. When your left foot takes a step, it’ll swing forward and there will be no weight left on it, all your weight will shift to the right leg.
When you take a step with the right leg, all the weight will go to the left leg. This will then apply more pressure on your sprained ankle or injured knee and it will hurt like hell!
This is where a walking stick comes in: it helps decrease weight on your weak side (left side in this case) as you walk around. A cane can only achieve this purpose if you hold it on the strong side.
Let’s see what happens when you walk with a cane:
When you take a step with the strong side (the right leg), your affected left leg will be left with the burden of supporting your body weight.
But when you put your cane in the right hand will allow the right arm and the left leg to work closely to support your weight.
That said, the right arm will be supported by your walking stick which will then work with the right-sided back muscle, whine will, in turn, work with the pelvis which connects to your left side hip.
This series of connections is what makes the cane efficient at boosting your walking capability.
What happens if you use cane on weak side?
Holding the cane in the injured left leg means that the can will support the left arm which connects to the left-back muscle, which connects to your left pelvis, which is connected to your left hip.
In this fashion, all your left side is deployed and this means it is bearing more weight, with less efficient weight shift to the strong side.
Consequently, you leave the strong side free and you overwork the side which needs to be relieved. This will not only cause you more pain but might cause re-injury.
Do you hold a cane on the weak or strong side?
The debate has been going on about the issue when holding a cane which side does it go on to help you relieve pain and help you walk stably.
If you were to grab and start using it, you’ll most likely hold it on the same side as your weak leg. But this isn’t the correct way to use it. Many people have argued about this topic, but with all the professional advice and easy-to-understand logic, however, it’s good to stick to holding your cane on the same side as your good leg.
The only time it doesn’t matter how you use your walking cane is when you don’t have an injured knee or leg. If you’re using your cane to get some additional support or stability, you can hold it in whichever side seems the most comfortable for you.
If you don’t suffer from injury, we also suggest holding your walking cane in the hand that you use less often.
For instance, if you’re right-handed, you should consider holding the cane in your left hand most of the time so you free up your dominant hand to do other important things. If you’re a leftie, hold the cane in your right hand.
Additional tips for using your walking stick correctly
Holding your walking cane in the right hand is the first step to using your stick correctly. There are additional measures that you need to keep in mind for you to be able to use your stick correctly and get the most out of it as discussed below.
- Use the correct cane size: a wrong can size will not offer you much help, even if you hold it correctly as we have shown you above. It will end up causing you more pain instead of relieving you of it. Make sure you order a cane that comes all the way up to your wrist level as your arms rest at your side. This will ensure your elbow stays lightly bent as you hold your cane while standing, ensuring comfortable use. Alternatively, you can get a height-adjustable cane that you can easily set to your desired height.
- How to walk with your cane: when you make a step forward with your injured leg, move your cane forward as well so that they go out together. This will ensure you put weight on both of them together, allowing the can to absorb more straining than your weak leg. Avoid using your cane with your good leg. This will not offer much help. Instead, it will feel like an extension of yourself as you get accustomed to it.
- The correct walking posture: you should also try to keep your back as straight as possible when walking with your cane unless you have a problem that makes this impossible. You can achieve this by ensuring you don’t stretch your cane too far than your leg usually goes.
- Going upstairs: always lead with your strong, uninjured leg when going up the stairs or curb. Start with both your feet and the cane on the same step. Then, while firmly hold your cane, lift the stronger leg to the next step up. When the strong leg is firmly planted, follow with the weak leg. Now that both your feet are on the same step, lift the cane to your side. Repeat the process for each process until you hit the end of the stairs.
- Going downstairs: When stepping down the stairs, the same process of going up should happen—use your strong leg first. Start with your cane and both feet on the same step. Hold your cane firmly for support and then step with your strong leg to the next step down. Once your foot is firmly planted, follow with the weak leg, and lastly move the cane back to your side. Repeat this until you get through all the steps on your way down.
- Put your cane closer: try to put your walking cane as close as possible to your body and try making smaller steps when walking.
The best way to use your can is to hold it on the opposite side of your injured or weak leg. If your right leg is hurt, you should hold the cane in the right hand and vice versa.
This enables the cane to play its role of relieving weight and pressure on the weak leg, making it more efficient at boosting your stability when walking. Holding your cane in this manner also helps reduce pain in your injured leg.
Other than holding the cane on the good side, remember to use the correct size of cane and use it correctly when walking to ensure you get the most out of it.
We hope you have found this guide helpful in answering your question on why you should use a cane on the opposite side of the injury.
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