How To Size & Measure For A Walking Cane

A walking cane provides a source of support while walking or standing, making it an important medical device that can help improve one’s balance and reduce their risks of falls and injury. But with so many canes available to pick from, it can be easy to choose the wrong cane for your needs. 

The fact is before you start using a cane, you need to measure your proper cane height, so the walking cane you choose can provide you with the stable support you need. Should you choose not to take this step and choose an undersized or over-sized cane, your cane will not provide you with the same stability and performance as a properly sized cane. 

In this guide, you will learn how to measure walking cane height, so you or your loved one can get the appropriate support that’s needed as well as the reasons why choosing a height adjustable cane might make better sense.

How to Measure Walking Cane Height

holding walking cane

If you already use a cane but need to replace it with a new one, then measuring cane height is relatively easy. Just measure your current cane from the lowest part of the top of the handle to the bottom of the tip and then round up to the nearest half inch.

On the other hand, if you are being prescribed your first walking cane, there are two different ways you can use to determine what your ideal cane length should be – measuring the cane user and measuring half the height of the cane user. Of course, these steps will differ if the cane you are looking to purchase is an adjustable one.

Measure the Cane User (When the User is Available)

If you are purchasing a non-adjustable cane, then the first technique is to measure the cane user. Therefore, if you are the one getting the cane, then you will need a second person to do the measuring. This is the most accurate way to measure a non-adjustable cane’s height. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Put on your walking shoes
  2. Stand naturally upright as much as possible
  3. Let your arms fall to the sides naturally with a normal relaxed bend at the elbow
  4. Have the other person use a tape measure to measure the distance from your wrist joint (bottom crease at the wrist) down to the floor
  5. Round the measurement up to the nearest half-inch

If the cane you are buying is adjustable, then the general rule of thumb is to follow steps 1 to 3, but for step 4 you should adjust the height of the cane, so it lands at the wrist joint. This eliminates the need to take measurements. 

Measure Half the Height of the Cane User (When the User is Not Available)

adjustable walking cane

The second technique to sizing a non-adjustable cane is to measure half the height of the cane user in inches. This is commonly used in cases where the user is not available to be measured because the general rule is that most cane measurements fall within one inch of half the users’ height. 

It is important to note, however, that this technique is not as accurate as the previous one and can sometimes result in choosing the wrong sized cane.  

Here is an example of how this technique is applied:

A user’s height is 6'1" which converts to 73 inches. 73 divided in half is 35.5 inches. Rounding up to the nearest half-inch gives you 36 inches. Add another half-inch to this measurement to get 36.5 inches. So, by all accounts this user should feel comfortable using a cane that is 36.5 inches long.

By comparison, choosing a height adjustable cane may be a more reliable choice because it allows for a variety of different sizing options that can better meet your needs as they change throughout the day.

Your Cane Should Be Designed to Meet Your Changing Needs

While choosing the right sized cane is important, it is equally important to understand that a cane should be able to accommodate your changing needs. For instance, a simple change in footwear can alter how a non-adjustable cane feels when you use it. In this case, choosing a height adjustable cane will ensure that your cane will be comfortable and supportive regardless of whatever type of footwear you are wearing. 

Or, if you don’t require a cane for all-day support or you travel frequently, then choosing a foldable cane may provide you with the best balance of support and convenience because it can be quickly folded and stowed away when not in use.

Choosing the Right Walking Cane is More Than Just Getting the Height Right

man walking with cane

Your journey to choosing the right cane doesn’t stop after learning how to measure for a cane properly. It is important to know that not all canes are made to support weight, some are made for casual, novelty, or collectible use. Canes also come with a wide range of grips, so you want the cane that you choose to have a grip that is comfortable and sized appropriately for your hand. Additionally, if you need a cane to help provide additional support, make sure you size it properly and choose one that is both rated for your weight and designed for medical use.
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