If you’re using a walking cane, it means that something on one side of your body is hurting or injured. For many people, then, it makes logical sense to use the walking aid on that same side of the body. The problem is that it’s not the most effective way to use the cane, and it leaves you prone to additional injury.
Physical therapists advise their clients to use the cane on the opposite side of the body to improve balance and promote proper biomechanics.
For example, if your right hip hurts, your natural inclination may be to put the cane in your right hand, especially if that is your dominant hand. However, when you take a step on the sore hip with the cane on the same side, you have a narrower base than you do when you take a step with the cane in your left hand. The broader base makes it less likely that you will become unstable and fall.
Think about the competitors who tend to win in a three-legged race. They are the pairs who synchronize the steps of their outermost legs. You should use your walking cane like an outer leg and synchronize its placement with the step of your good leg. Imagine, by contrast, how difficult it would be in a three-legged race if one person tried to move both of their legs at the same time. When you use a cane on the injured side of your body, you’re doing the same thing.
The purpose of using a walking cane is to improve your balance while you heal. The best way to do that is to avoid the mistake so many people make and to use your cane in the proper hand.
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