How to Properly Walk with a Cane

Walk with a cane is an essential skill for individuals who require additional support and stability while getting around. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, dealing with a mobility issue, or simply in need of assistance, a cane can be a valuable tool to improve your balance and confidence. In this article, we will explore the proper techniques and safety considerations for walking with a cane.

How to Walk with a Cane

Walk With a Cane for Balance

Maintaining balance is crucial when using a cane. Begin by standing upright, aligning your body’s center of gravity with the cane’s tip. Hold the cane in the hand opposite to your weaker or injured side, allowing it to bear the majority of your weight. As you take a step forward, move the cane simultaneously with your affected leg, providing stability and support. Ensure a smooth gait by coordinating the movement of your cane with your opposite leg.

To maximize the cane’s effectiveness, keep it positioned slightly ahead of you while walking. This allows it to serve as a reliable point of contact with the ground, aiding in balance and weight distribution. Engage your core muscles to maintain an upright posture and avoid putting excessive pressure on the cane.

Using a Cane on Stairs – Navigating Stairs

Walking up and down stairs can pose a challenge when using a cane. However, with the right technique and caution, including climbing stairs with cane, you can conquer this obstacle with confidence.

Stair Climbing with Cane – Going Up Stairs

Approach the stairs with caution and position yourself close to the edge. Grasp the handrail with your free hand for additional support. To ascend, place your cane on the step above, while simultaneously transferring your weight onto the cane and your stronger leg. Push through your arms and leg to lift yourself up, step-by-step. Take your time, ensuring each step is secure before proceeding to the next.

How to Walk with a Cane - Navigating Stairs

Going Down Stairs With a Cane

When descending stairs, position your cane on the step below while gripping the handrail with your free hand. Begin by shifting your weight onto the cane and your stronger leg, lowering yourself down one step at a time. Maintain control and balance throughout the descent, using the cane and handrail for support. Take care not to rush the process, allowing each step to be safely completed before moving on.

Sit down onto a Chair

To sit down on a chair using a walking cane, follow these instructions based on the type of cane you have:

  • Quad cane: Back up until you feel the chair against your legs. Place both hands on the chair arm and ease down into the chair.
  • Standard cane: Back up until you feel the chair against your legs. Hold the cane in one hand and the armrest with the other hand. Ease down into the chair.

During this process, it’s crucial to distribute your weight evenly between the walking cane and the chair. This helps maintain stability and prevents any imbalance or potential falls. Once you have reached a comfortable sitting position, release your grip on the walking cane and settle into the chair. If you feel uncertain or unstable, it may be helpful to have someone nearby to assist you.

Make Sure Your Cane Is the Right Height

The proper height of your cane significantly impacts its functionality and your overall comfort. To determine the appropriate height, stand up straight with your shoes on and let your arms hang naturally by your sides. The top of the cane should align with the crease of your wrist. If the cane is too short or too tall, it can compromise your balance and place unnecessary strain on your body. Adjust the cane’s height accordingly to ensure optimal support and stability.

Related: How to Size & Measure a Walking Cane

Mistakes to Avoid

While using a cane, certain mistakes should be avoided to prevent accidents or discomfort. Firstly, refrain from leaning heavily on the cane, as this can lead to poor posture and instability. Instead, use the cane to assist with balance and weight distribution. Additionally, avoid placing the cane too far in front of you, as this may cause you to overreach and lose your balance. Maintain a natural and comfortable stride, allowing the cane to move in sync with your steps.

What Safety Tips Should You Consider When Using a Cane?

When utilizing a cane, several safety tips should be taken into consideration:

  1. Proper footwear: Wear sturdy and supportive shoes to enhance stability and reduce the risk of slipping or tripping.
  2. Inspect your cane: Regularly check your cane for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure the rubber tip is in good condition to provide optimal traction.
  3. Well-lit environments: Walk in well-lit areas to enhance visibility and avoid potential hazards.
  4. Avoid uneven surfaces: Steer clear of uneven or slippery surfaces that could compromise your stability. If necessary, seek alternative routes or assistance.
  5. Regular exercise: Engage in exercises that improve your strength, balance, and flexibility, as this can complement the use of a cane and enhance your overall mobility.

By incorporating these safety measures into your daily routine, you can minimize the risk of accidents and enjoy a safer walking experience with your cane.


Walk with a cane can greatly improve balance and mobility for individuals facing various challenges. By following the proper techniques and safety guidelines discussed in this article, you can confidently navigate through different terrains and obstacles. Remember to choose a cane of the appropriate height, maintain an upright posture, and take your time when maneuvering stairs. With practice and attentiveness, the cane will become a valuable aid, empowering you to move with greater independence and assurance.


Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Right Walking Cane | Carex (06/2023)