What's The Best Walking Aid For Me?
Posted by Mike Phipps on March 21, 2022
Photos by michaeljung & Ljupco from iStock
Here at Ability Superstore, we stock many different types and makes of walking aids, and one of the most popular is the humble walking stick.
We've created this handy guide to help you work out what type of walking stick mobility aid is best for you, as there are several things you need to consider, such as height and weight.
If you still have questions when you’ve read our guide, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’ll be more than happy to help.
Things You Need To Consider When Buying A Walking Stick Walking Aid
Height And Weight
A walking stick walking aid must be the right height for the person using it.
We have produced another handy guide – How To Measure And Use A Walking Stick, A Step-by-Step Guide – that you can find if you click here! You also need to check that the walking aid will support the weight of the person.
Type Of Terrain
The walking stick will probably be used on different types of terrain, so you need to consider this when choosing one.
If you think you'll be predominantly using it on paved surfaces, a simple wooden, or metal cane will do the job. If you’ll be using your mobility aid on uneven surfaces, or rocky terrains, you’ll need a stick with a more robust design, such as a hiking stick, or trekking pole.
Type Of Ferrule
You also need to consider the ferrule (a ferrule is a metal, or rubber cap, that is fixed onto the end of a walking aid in order to prevent it from splitting, or wearing down).
A walking stick with a rubber ferrule is ideal for walking on concrete, or pavements, while a walking aid with a metal ferrule is better for walking on rough ground, or grass.
Type Of Activity
You will probably be using the walking stick for different activities, such as for outdoor use – walking, hiking, or climbing. So, you need to choose a walking stick that’s suitable for the activity in question. You also might need a mobility aid just for indoor use.
Type Of Grip
The walking stick should have a comfortable grip, so you need to choose one that fits your hand properly.
Weight Of The Walking Stick
Walking sticks shouldn’t be too heavy, or they can make the mobility aids difficult to use.
Choosing The Right Material For Your Walking Stick
The type of material used to make your walking stick will depend on your needs and preferences.
Wooden walking aids are often more traditional and can be carved, or stained to match your style. They are also heavier than other materials, which can be a disadvantage if you need to carry your walking stick for long distances and, of course, they do not fold up!
Metal walking sticks are the most popular type and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are strong and durable and offer good support and, some fold up, which can be really useful when travelling, or for storage.
Wooden Walking Sticks
Wooden walking sticks are a really popular walking aid, as they are strong, offer great support and are long-lasting. They can also be sawn to the right length, which is an important factor when choosing a walking aid. However, it is important to be careful when cutting wooden sticks to the correct length, as you cannot simply glue the end back on if you have cut off too much! Measure twice – cut once!
Wooden walking sticks are available in a range of different woods, including chestnut, ash, hazel and oak, as well as a whole host of colours.
Wooden walking sticks also make a stylish addition to any outfit.
The Right Weight
If you are thinking of buying a wooden walking support, make sure to choose one that is the right weight for you, as there are lots of options available. You don’t want something that is too heavy, as it will make walking more difficult and tiring.
If you are using a walking stick for the first time in your daily life, make sure to practice walking with it in a safe place, such as a park, or garden. This will help you to get used to the feel of the walking aid and ensure that you are walking safely and confidently.
Aluminium Walking Sticks
When looking for walking stick walking aids, many people choose to go with an aluminium option. This is because aluminium is a lightweight material that is strong and easy to carry around and therefore easier when walking longer distances.
Additionally, aluminium walking sticks often have a telescopic design, which makes them more adjustable and convenient to use.
Choosing The Right Type Of Walking Stick
There are a few different types of walking stick to choose from, so it’s important to pick one that suits your needs. For example, if you need a walking stick for stability, you might want to choose a quad walking stick.
If you’re looking for something lightweight and easy to carry around, consider a folding walking stick. You don’t want to be struggling to use a walking stick that’s too big, or too small, for your height and build.
Folding Walking Sticks
When walking, it is often helpful to have a walking stick for support. However, when not in use, walking disability aids can be cumbersome to carry around. This is where folding walking sticks come in handy – they are easy to fold up and store away when not in use. Folding walking sticks are also a great option for those that don’t need to use their walking stick all of the time.
Folding walking sticks are made of aluminium, which makes them lightweight and durable and come in four, or five, sections that fold up together, held together with a strong elastic strap. This makes them easy to store and carry around with you.
When you need to use the walking stick, simply pull each section apart and it will be ready to go.
When not in use, folding walking sticks can be easily folded away and stored. This makes them a convenient and portable walking aid.
Many folding walking sticks also have a height adjustment capability in the top section of the stick nearest the handle. This means that they can be adjusted to the correct height for the individual, making them more comfortable to use.
Clips For Folding Walking Sticks
There are a range of different accessories that can be used to hold folding walking sticks together, such as a plastic clip. This clip can be purchased if you click here!
Non-Folding Walking Sticks
Folding walking sticks are more popular than non-folding walking sticks, as they’re portable and can be easily stored away. However, non-folding walking sticks are best suited for those that need a walking stick the majority of, if not all, the time.
Non-folding walking sticks are available in a range of materials and handle styles, with height-adjustable, or fixed height options. They’re also typically more sturdy than folding walking sticks, making them the right mobility aid for those with balance issues.
Choosing The Right Style Of Walking Stick
When choosing a walking stick, it is important to consider the style that will be most comfortable and effective for you. The majority of walking sticks are straight in style with a tip (a ferrule, also known as rubber feet) on the bottom. However, there are a few different shaped stick styles to choose from.
Swan Neck Walking Sticks
If you are looking for a walking aid that provides extra stability, a swan neck walking stick is a great option.
Swan neck walking sticks are a special type of walking stick that have a shaft that angles sharply towards the handle. This design allows for greater stability, especially when placing weight on the stick. As such, swan neck walking sticks are ideal for users who are unsteady on their feet and need more support.
Tetrapods: Quad Canes And Tripod Walking Sticks
There are a variety of different walking aids on the market, but two of the most popular types are tripods and quadrupeds. Tripod walking sticks have three legs, while quadrupeds, or quad based walking sticks, have four legs touching the floor. These additional legs provide extra security, meaning the stick is less likely to slip away when being used. They are particularly useful for those who are more unsteady on their feet, as they can help maintain balance.
Both tetrapods and quad canes come in two main styles: wide and small-based. Wide based have feet that protrude roughly 25.5 cm (10 inches) up from the base of the shaft, while the feet of the small-based style are fixed onto a plate near the base of the shaft. Both styles offer extra stability, but wide-based models are more suited for those with greater balance issues.
Walking Sticks With Built-In Seats
Walking sticks with built-in seats are a great way to take a rest when out and about. The seat is comfortable and provides support for your back, making it perfect for those who need to rest their legs from time to time.
Lightweight And Easy To Store
There are a variety of different styles of stick seats available, so you can find the perfect one for you, and they are easy to store away when not in use. They are also lightweight, so they won’t add much extra weight to your load when you’re out walking.
Choosing The Right Handle Style For Your Walking Stick
There are a number of different walking stick handle styles to choose from, each with their own advantages. So, whether you’re looking for a style that’s comfortable to hold, or one that’s easy to grip, there will be a handle style perfect for you.
Here are some of the most popular handle styles:
This style is curved like a shepherd’s crook and is perfect for those who want a comfortable grip. It also helps to keep your hand in a natural position.
This type of walking stick is often favoured by those who need more stability. The crook handle simply hooks over your arm when not in use.
This style is tapered and has a rounded end, making it easy to grip. It’s also very sturdy, making it ideal for those who need extra support when walking.
This style is a more elegant walking stick option. The derby handle can also be hooked over the arm when not in use. This makes it easy to carry and prevents the walking stick from getting in the way.
Derby handle walking sticks are available in a variety of materials, including wood and metal. They are also available in a variety of styles, including traditional and contemporary designs.
If you’re looking for a walking stick with a comfortable design, Fischer handles are a great option. These handles help to distribute weight and pressure across the palm, which is ideal for those who suffer from arthritis in their hands. Plus, Fischer handles are popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, due to their sturdy construction.
Ergonomic Handle Walking Sticks
Another popular style is the ergonomic handle walking stick. This type of walking stick is designed to provide comfort and support for those who suffer from arthritis in their hands.
The ergonomic handle walking stick features an orthopaedic design that is well-suited to either hand. It offers a comfortable grip that can help to ease the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis and some other painful joints. Additionally, the walking stick provides added stability and support when walking, which can be beneficial for those with mobility issues.
Petite Handle Walking Sticks
As the name suggests, these smaller walking sticks provide support for people with smaller hands, making them a good option for those who find traditional-sized walking sticks difficult to grip.
Similar in style to the Derby handle, petite walking sticks have a curved shape that fits comfortably in the hand. They are also typically shorter in length than other walking stick styles, making them ideal for use by those with limited mobility, or who need a cane that is easy to transport.
No matter what your needs are, there’s a walking stick handle style that’s perfect for you!
Walking Stick Accessories and Replacement Parts
If you are looking for walking stick accessories, or replacement parts, there are a number of different options available to you. From wrist straps to walking stick bags, there is something for everyone. So, whether you are looking for extra support, or want to protect your walking stick, there is an accessory, or part, available that will meet your needs.
Walking Stick Ferrules
Walking stick ferrules are the tips that fit at the end of a walking stick and actually touch the ground. They come in a variety of materials, but the most common types are PVC, or rubber, which provide the best security when in use.
Ferrules do wear through quickly and should be checked frequently for signs of wear. If they are beginning to show significant signs of wear, they should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid any accidents.
It is really important to always have a walking stick with a tight-fitting ferrule, as a loose fitting ferrule can be dangerous, as it is likely to fall off.
Ice Spike Crown
In Winter, when pavements tend to be icy and slippery, the ice spike crown is an ideal ferrule accessory that clips onto the shaft of the walking stick. The small spikes on the crown provide added security against slipping in snowy, or icy conditions.
Walking Stick Straps
Walking stick straps are a helpful addition to walking sticks, as they help to keep the stick close by if you need to reach into a handbag, or a pocket. The straps either slip over the handle of the stick, or attach via poppers onto the shaft of the stick. This helps to ensure that you don’t drop the stick if you let go of the handle.
Walking Stick Holders
There are a variety of walking stick holders on the market that provide a prop for when the walking stick is not in use. These mobility aids are especially useful for those who use a wheelchair, or wheeled walker, as it allows the walking stick to be balanced on the edge of a table, or worktop, and stops the walking aids from falling to the ground.
The Bridgit Walking Stick Holder
This is one option that can be hung over the back of a chair, or handrail, or from a table, or countertop.
Walking Stick Bags
Walking stick bags are a great way to keep your folding walking stick compact and easy to transport. A walking stick bag can also protect your walking stick from scratches, or other damage.
Need More Than A Walking Stick?
If you feel like your walking and mobility needs are greater than what a traditional cane can offer, then consider investing in an excellent option for support – a walking frame. Walking frames have been around for years and are still going strong today. They also come in many shapes and sizes, with and without wheels.
There are many different types and makes of walking frames available, but a lot of people refer to them as Zimmer frames.
The history of the walking/Zimmer frame is very interesting. We recently wrote a blog about the history of this disability aid, and you can find it if you click here!
What Is A Walking Frame?
Walking frames have grip handles on top and four points of contact with the floor; either two wheels at the front and two ferrule feet at the back, or four wheels, or just a frame without any wheels whatsoever. Two wheeled walkers (walking frames) are our most popular!
These aluminium mobility aids are lightweight and easy to use, but they're also strong enough to support different weights.
Types Of Walking Frames
Walking frames can be a great way to help with your walking, and they come in either folding and non-folding versions.
In addition, there are many accessories available. You can find the options available if you click here!
Another type of walking frame is a tri walker (a frame with three wheels) or a…
rollator (a frame with four wheels).
Tri walkers and rollators are dealt with in a different article as there is so much to say about them - click here for further information.
We hope that this article was informative and helped you understand the different styles of walking sticks that are available.
Remember to always consult your Occupational Therapist, or healthcare professional before starting any new walking program, especially if you have any health concerns, have suffered from a serious injury, or worry about your upper body strength.
At Ability Superstore, we stock a wide range of walking sticks and accessories, so you're sure to find the perfect one for you. Visit our website today to find out more!
Ability Superstore is one of the top mobility and disability aid websites in the UK, and now with our first mobility shop, we are adding an extra level to our customer care experience.
We stock hundreds of items from simple jar openers right through to mobility scooters and more. Mobility shops across the country are here to offer you support and advice when choosing a mobility aid for yourself or a loved one.
For more information, or advice, on anything in the mobility aid world, call our customer service team free on 0800 255 0498, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also send us a message via this Contact Us form on our website. You will also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.