A guide to adapting to using a walking aid

People may require walking aids as a result of elderly age, injury or accident, and they can take a bit of getting used to. Learn how to build good habits with your walking aid of choice, and find out how to avoid any further issues

Any change to mobility can be challenging to adapt to, but did you know that even using a walking aid can be difficult? There are handy tools to help people get back on the go but adjusting to using one everyday isn’t always straightforward. Here’s a helpful guide for adapting to a walking aid.

Mobility aids can provide a new lease of independent life for their users, whether a person is unsteady as a result of old age, disability or perhaps as a consequence of an injury. Popular choices include a zimmer frame or a rollator, both of which provide a steady base for controlled movement. Walking sticks and crutches are also used, and they require changes in posture to operate successfully. For example, walking sticks and crutches tend to be adjustable, so they can meet the specific height requirements, and you shouldn’t have to stoop down to feel comfortable using the aid. Also, the stick or crutch shouldn’t cause your shoulder to raise as this can only go on to cause joint issues.

With options such as zimmer frames, there after often models in multiple heights, allowing the user to choose one that suits them best. The point of reference should be the wrist bone, measuring the distance to the floor from here for the best size choice. Be cautious in the first few weeks of using your walking aid, as any noticeable strains could be an indicator that you are not using the correct height. The ferrule (rubber at the end) can also come in useful for measuring, as with non-adjustable sticks you can make a mark near it where it meets the wrist bone, then test your aid and adjust if necessary.

For minor stability issues, a cane can provide sufficient support. They are popular choices for elderly people, as they can provide a simple solution to allow someone to walk as far as they want, unassisted. Get into a good routine when you start using a cane, by always ensuring that the top of your cane reaches the crease of your wrist while standing up straight. As well as this, make a habit out of bending your arm slightly, and always remember to hold the cane on the opposite side to where you need support.

A zimmer frame or walker gives additional support, removing a lot of pressure from the lower body while walking. They can be great for redeveloping lower body strength, so you should commit to using them whenever possible in the first few weeks to feel the most benefit. Again, standing up straight is essential, keeping your elbows bent slightly and avoiding a hunched posture. You should take it slowly when first using a walker or zimmer and ensure to make regular checks on the rubber tips of the aid as when these are worn or damaged, they can be less effective.

Overall, posture is key when it comes to using a walking aid. It can determine how valuable they will be in helping the mobility of the user. Furthermore, poor posture can lead to increasingly damaged mobility or even some annoying aches and pains. It is best to incorporate the walking aid into your daily life as often as possible to familiarise yourself with the motion involved, helping you to get the most out of the aid.