Canes Are Hip!

By Sharon Naylor

June 12, 2013 5 min read

A cane can greatly improve your balance as you walk, serving as a constant companion or simply as a helpful tool while you recuperate from an injury or recent surgery. While you may have seen canes in a pharmacy bin in basic black, you might choose a more stylish design as an accessory to your look. You might even get a daytime cane and a dressier nighttime cane that you'll use for dinners out and special events.

*Choosing Your Cane

To help you choose the ideal cane, keep in mind that if you need the cane only for extra balance, consider a standard cane with a single tip. If you need the cane to bear your weight, choose an offset cane with four tips for a sturdier support system. Your doctor can advise on the best type of cane for your mobility, weight and needs, as well as on places to buy a cane. Your doctor might also know whether a cane is covered under your insurance policy.

Generally speaking, a cane can support 25 percent of your weight. A walker supports 50 percent of your weight. So again, consult with your doctor about what balance and mobility tool is best for your needs.

If a cane is suggested, it's time to get measurements. While you're wearing your regular shoes, let your arm hang loosely at your side. Ask a volunteer to measure the distance from your wrist to the floor, which should be about equal to the distance from the floor to the point where your leg bone fits into the hip socket. That point is the point to which your cane should reach, allowing you to walk upright and with balance -- so you're not lifting and moving a too-long cane or leaning sideways to use a too-short one. Wood canes can be cut to length, and aluminum canes may have an adjustable length slide and securing button.

While standing with your hand on the cane top, you should have a 15-degree bend in the elbow. Your doctor or physical therapist can help with this measurement or assess your new cane for adjustments that can be made to the rubber tip at the cane's base.

Next, you'll choose your handgrip. While some canes have snazzy tops featuring shiny silver tiger's heads, a more secure grip is made of foam or designed to fit your hand. If you have arthritis, the grip should be larger for ease of your clutch. If your hand hurts or is numb after using your cane for a short time, the grip needs to be changed out or adjusted.

Canes are most often made of wood or aluminum, and there is a great deal of variety in the materials from which canes are made. At, for instance, canes for men and women come in such exotic and attractive materials as afromosia, amaranth, ash, bamboo, beech wood, blackthorn, chestnut, ebony, hazel wood, kingwood, maple, oak, rosewood and walnut.

Designs that are now available on cane handles, as well as on the entire cane, include animal prints, cosmopolitan styles such as stripes and checks, florals such as roses and daisies, butterflies, and more, and they come in colors such as blue, green, orange, bronze and amber, among others. Some wooden canes also come in a thick spiral-twist design for visual flair, while still providing reliable support.

You'll find lightweight canes, extra-strength canes to support more weight and even canes with built-in flashlights for your evening strolls.

*Give Your Cane Some Style

Personalizing canes is a big trend, and not just with colors and patterns, but also with elegant silver tops and laser-cut engravings of your name, a favorite phrase or scripture, your phone number, or anything you'd like. And an engraved brass or anodized aluminum plaque on the top of the cane handle adds extra panache to your personalized style.

Additional cane accessories include colorful straps, charm-accented chains and easy-to-use clips that attach a cane to a mobility scooter or to wrought-iron fencing at an outdoor cafe to keep your cane upright and free from nicks and dings that happen when canes fall to the ground when not in use.

Canes can be hip and trendy even while providing the practical function of extra balance and support.

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