Choosing the Right Walking Stick

 elderly woman with a cane and walking stick

In this article we will round up the different types of walking sticks, what benefits they can bring and how to measure for a walking stick. We’ve also included some of our favourite walking sticks available.

The Benefits Of Using A Walking Stick

Increase stability
Increase confidence
Decrease pain when walking
Make others aware of you

This article is all about walking sticks. If you think that you or your parent may need more support when walking, then take a look at our walking aids for the elderly article. It’s got lots of detail about walkers, trolleys and frames too so you can make a considered decision about which walking aid to buy.

Choosing The Right Walking Stick – What To Consider

That the walking stick is the right height for you
Which hand you are going to hold it in
Whether you need the walking stick to stand up by itself 
How much stability you need it to provide
Whether you are going to take it upstairs
Whether you need a seat so you can rest

If you are looking at a second hand walking stick or inheriting a stick it is important to check the condition.  Look to see that the ferrules at the bottom of the stick and any adjustable joins aren’t worn. 

If it is a wooden walking stick, check that it is long enough and be prepared to cut it down if needed.

How To Measure For A Walking Stick

Getting the height right for a walking stick is very important.  If you have one too high it won’t be as stable and you won’t be able to put weight through it safely. Too low can negatively impact on your posture leading to increased stooping.

So Here Is How You Measure For A Walking Stick

Wearing your normal shoes, stand-in your normal standing position with your arms relaxed and hanging down by your sides with a slight bend in your elbow.

Have someone to hold a stick just close, about 15cm from your side.

Your wrist joint should be at the same height as the stick handle without changing your position.

If you don’t have a stick to measure against then ask someone to measure from your wrist joint to the floor while you are in this position with a tape measure and round to the nearest cm.

How To Use A Walking Stick

You can use a walking stick either as a single or as a pair.  How you walk with them will depend on what your particular needs are and restrictions you may have.

If you are walking with a pair of walking sticks it is particularly important that you walk with the right technique.  A physiotherapist can advise you on the right technique for you as well as how to use them going up and downstairs.

At ElWell we provide a physiotherapy service at home in Oxfordshire or you can find one through the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) Find a Physio. Alternatively visit your GP and request a referral.

Using the wrong walking stick or using it with a poor technique can be unsafe and lead to an increased risk of falls. 

We’re passionate about educating people on fall prevention. Find out what to do when an elderly parent falls in this article, or for tips on how to regain your confidence after a fall this is the article for you.

Different Types Of Walking Sticks


A wooden cane can provide good support although not as strong as its metal counterparts and will likely need to be cut to size.

Adjustable Walking Stick

Lightweight strong and adjustable, here is a standard adjustable walking stick.

Foldable Walking Stick

For something a bit more fun and discreet choose a patterned folding walking stick which you can use just when needed.

Looking for more daily living aids and products that can help older adults stay safe, independent and well? Then read our article on this topic here!

Walking Sticks With Seats

If you tire easily and have reasonably good balance, then a walking stick with a seat can be a good option. If you need to rest for longer periods or need help carrying shopping look at our walking aid guide and consider an outdoor walker.

Walking Sticks With Lights

For those who are going out in the dark, walking sticks with lights can be a good option. Fitted with LED lights they help to light up your path.

Walking Sticks With Comfy Grip

These stick are great for those with arthritic hands, making it much more comfortable to grip and put weight through. Be sure to order one for the right hand as they come in left and right designs.

White Sticks For the Visually Impaired

For those needing more support than a guide stick and to make other aware of your visual impairment.

Walking Sticks Offering More Support


With three supportive feet that pivot on a moving head, the Hurrycane stick offers more support and is good on all terrains.

Tripod Walking Sticks

Tripod sticks can be particularly useful for hemiplegics (a weakness down one side of your body).

They offer a wider base and greater stability and allow the person to weight bear through their strong side while stepping with their weaker side. They are not suitable for use on the stairs though.

They are also free standing so the person is free to push up from the chair into standing not needing to hold on to the walking stick until they are up.

Quadropods Walking Sticks

Quadropods are very similar to tripod walking sticks but offer even more support. They can be an effective alternative when someone is unable to use both hands and therefore a walking frame is not suitable.

Walking Sticks To Aid Exercise

Nordic Walking Poles

Used in a pair, Nordic walking poles are a great form of exercise for those who love the outdoors. These sticks offer support allowing accessible exercise for older people.

Improve your cardiovascular fitness, improve your mood and socialise by joining a Nordic walking group. Age UK run some Nordic walking groups if you check with your local branch or you can also try Nordic Walking UK or look out for a group in your local publications.

Walking Stick Accessories

There are a selection of walking stick accessories that are available, here are the most commonly used:

Walking stick clips – Clip the stick to the side of a table to stop it dropping on the floor.
Straps – Slip around your wrist to avoid dropping your stick.
Ferrules – These need to be replaced when worn.


So there you have it, a round up of the different types of sticks, their benefits and how to measure for one.

This guide includes information on where to buy walking sticks. Some of the links here are affiliate links meaning that if you click on them, ElWell may earn a small commision at no cost to you.

3 thoughts on “Choosing the Right Walking Stick”

  1. Pingback: Walking Aids For The Elderly - ElWell

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