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Canes and Walking Poles

Canes have been used for centuries and for some reason there have been few, if any, changes or modifications other than design or appearance. After three back operations and age related mobility problems, I finally decided to try a cane. At first the cane seemed to help keep my balance and support walking, however it became obvious that the cane produced a reaction in the form of irregular leg and body movements opposing a normal gait or stride. The cane simply was not effective for normal walking.

After searching for answers, I came across two important discoveries:

1- The length of a cane requires bending over in a forward motion, straining the back and legs, opposing the essential construction of the body to operate in an upright position.

2- The height of the cane does not promote a natural walking movement and provides minimal balance support.

The solution turned out to be a type of cane the is held at a natural level, that is at a height where your hand and forearm are level with the ground. These taller devices are poles that that are held vertically rather than leaning on a right angled handle. They are called walking poles or balance poles or sticks. Walking/balance poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, because your body is aligned and walking up straight. They also support proper posture, especially in the upper back, and the upright position helps to maintain balance and rhythm while walking.

Please note that walking poles are not designed for persons who need to take the weight off knees, hips or feet, or for relieving pain. They are more beneficial for the higher-functioning elderly who are can exercise by walking. Ideally, two poles work best but for shorter distances, such as shopping or just getting around, a single pole is usually sufficient.

Easton, MD

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