If you, or someone you know, uses a walking stick, or crutches then check out our top five tips below to make sure you're doing so correctly!
1. Make sure its in the correct hand!
This is something us physio's are correcting all the time. The walking aid should always be in the opposite hand to the affected leg. For example if you've hurt your right knee and are using one stick or one crutch - that should be used on your left side. This will give you the most support. Sounds odd? don't believe us? give it a try - most people find it much easier this way :-)
2. Check the ferrules!
Especially important in this weather with slippy leaves around. The ferrule is the grey or black rubber end to your walking aid - when you look underneath them they should have a series of circles from the outside in - this is what gives them grip. If its all smooth it needs changing! (same applies on walking frames)
3. Is the height right?
In theory if you've had your walking aid provided for you by a health professional it should be the correct height all ready but if you've bought your own or inherited someone one from someone else it's important to check the height. Get someone to help you with this and stand up tall without holding onto the walking aid, (perhaps hold onto the back of a chair for balance if needed) get someone to hold the walking aid against your arm, now if its the right height your wrist crease should be level with either the top bit of the walking stick or the bit you hold onto of the crutch - if not adjust it accordingly but make sure both little metal bits stick out the holes either side evenly before putting any weight on it (if it's a wooden stick that's not the right height you'll have to have it chopped down or replace it).
4. Facing the stairs? use this order!
Lets use right knee pain as an example: going up would be left leg, right leg, crutch and going down would be the opposite: crutch, right leg, left leg (assuming you have a hand rail to hold onto). So going up you lead with the unaffected leg first and coming down you lead with the crutch and then the affected leg. If in doubt get someone to stand on the step in front of you coming down and the step behind you going up until you get confident. Your physiotherapist will ensure you're safe to do stairs before giving you walking aids if you've had an operation for example.
5. Finally - if it looks bent, dented or just really old get it changed - you'd be amazed what we see some people using to walk with. If in doubt talk to a physio