Many kinds of walking sticks exist that range from a convenient fallen tree branch to high-tech, telescoping devices similar to ski poles. Walking works the same way, no matter what tools you use to make it easier. Although adjusting each type of stick is a unique task, some basic guidelines apply to all types of walking sticks. Technology aside, walking sticks fall into two broad categories. Staves or crooks are longer sticks, sometimes reaching even to eye or head level. Canes are shorter, coming up to just above the hip.
Hold your staff in one hand so the tip touches the ground with your hand at about chest level. Your arm should be bent about 45 degrees.
Walk with the staff, noting how comfortably the staff swings. If the staff swings too quickly, it's too high. If it swings too slowly, it's too low. As the staff swings, the counterbalancing weight of the length above the fulcrum (your hand) determines how fast the tip swings.
Shorten a wooden staff by carving an inch off the top and trying it again. It's best to do this an inch or half an inch at a time. After all, you can't uncut the staff if you go too far.
Shorten a manufactured staff using the steps outlined in the owner's manual. Generally this involves depressing a small stud until you can slide the tube to make it contract.
Lengthen a manufactured staff in the same way you shorten it, but pulling to expand the tube. If your wooden staff remains too short, it's best to replace it with a longer staff.
Hold the cane by the handle with the tip touching the ground. Your arm should be bent at about waist level at 90 degrees or so. If the angle of your arm is significantly less than 90 degrees, the cane is too tall. If more than 90 degrees, the cane is too short.
Shorten a manufactured cane using the directions in the owner's manual. This is often the same method described for staves. Another common method is unscrewing the mechanism counterclockwise to allow the cane to telescope.
Shorten a wooden cane exactly as you would a staff, but cut from the bottom rather than from the top.
Lengthen a manufactured cane by as you would shorten it, by unscrewing the telescoping mechanism and pulling it in the opposite direction, or follow the owner's manual. As with staves, a wooden cane that's too short is best replaced rather than adjusted.
- "Basic Cane Techniques"; Will Pleasant, Albuquerque NM; 1997
- Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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