Which Side Do You Use a Cane?

Canes are one of the best assistive devices available that will help you with your movement when you need assistance. These were designed to be able to take your full weight while giving you support on a daily basis.

Not only can canes be used to improve your balance and strength when you are weak, but it can also be used to increase the strength and stability of your non-dominant side.

Most canes are made out of steel, aluminum, or wood; some of them may even be folded up to three times, making it an even more convenient item. But before you get yourself a cane, it is essential to know about the different types of canes, the purposes they serve, how to adjust, and which side do you use a cane.

Different Kinds of Canes

There are many types of canes, but, amongst them, these four are the most common ones to be used by most people.

Although most of them are shaped in a similar manner, there are minor differences in each, making them unique for different purposes. It is imperative to have an idea about the different types of canes to know which one to buy at the time of need.

  • “C” Cane


The classic C cane is the simplest of all canes; it is a single straight stick with a smooth curve forming a handgrip at the top. If you only need a little assistance with stability or don’t have any serious injury, this should be the ideal choice. 

  • Functional Grip Cane

Similar to the C-cane, a functional grip cane is also made of a single straight stick but has a straight grip handle instead of the smooth curve the C-cane has. This offers a better grip for the patient and as a result, provides them with better control and support.


A functional grip cane is ideal for people who need a little more assistance with balance than what the C-cane provides.

  • Quad Cane

Unlike the other two mentioned above, a quad cane has a rectangle base with four small feet capped with rubber bunds instead of a plain stick. The sizable base provides greater support and balance than the above two canes.


And the rubber bunds also provide better friction that will help to avoid slipping.

Quad canes have two different variations, which are the wide-base quad cane and narrow-base quad cane to serve two different purposes. These canes are extremely beneficial for patients requiring greater support and balance assistance. It is mostly recommended for patients that faced a more severe injury.

  • Hemiwalker

A hemiwalker is a combination of a walker and a quad cane. It has a base that is much bigger than any of the other canes. As it is very wide, you will be able to use both of your hands for the ultimate support and balance.


The hemiwalker is recommended for patients who have faced a serious injury or are suffering from hemiplegia.

How to Adjust Your Cane

If the cane is too short, you will have to stoop down in order to reach it. On the other hand, if it’s too big, you will have to put pressure on your injured side to use it.

Neither of the options is ideal if you want to recover; in fact, it is likely to cause more damage to you. Therefore, it’s crucial to adjust the length of the cane to meet your height before you start walking with it.

Most canes come with a small button and an anti-rattle collar attached to it. To adjust the height, loosen the anti-rattle collar by turning it counterclockwise. Then press the push button and slide the tube extension up or down in accordance with your need.

Once you’ve reached the desired length, allow the snap button to thrust into the chosen adjustment hole. Hearing a click will indicate that the height has been securely adjusted; hence, you can move onto the last step and tighten the anti-rattle collar by turning it clockwise.

How to Position Your Cane Correctly

Learning which side to use a cane is equally as important as knowing how to adjust the cane. Here is a guide of the correct technique to walk safely with a cane. However, be sure to consult with your physical therapist to ensure that you are doing it right.

Step 1: Stand straight with the cane next to you. The tip of the handle should be near the crease of the wrist while your arm is casually hanging at the side, or the handle should be just below your hips.

Step 2: Keep the cane on the same side as your good/uninjured leg and slightly bend your elbow around 20 degrees to hold it. The cane should constantly move with the injured side so that you can avoid putting any pressure on that side.

Step 3: Set the cane about one small step ahead of you and move the injured or weak leg forward, followed by the uninjured leg. However, when walking up or down the stairs, always remember to take the first step with your strong leg, followed by the injured one.

You can also use a cane if you are not injured but want to improve the stability of your non-dominant hand. To do this, use the cane with your non-dominant hand and continue practicing for a couple of weeks for improved balance and strength.

What May Go Wrong 

Failing to size your cane properly can be damaging to your overall functional safety and mobility.

If your cane is too small, you will have to possess a forward-bent posture, which is likely to cause moderate to severe back pain. Furthermore, it can bring your center of mass forward, which may further cause you to lose balance and fall.

On the other hand, if it’s too long, it will cause shoulder pain and will not provide the needed support and may result in adding to your existing injury.

Making the mistake of using the cane with your injured side even if it is your previously dominant side is strictly forbidden. If you hold the cane with your injured side, it will only add to your existing injury and may possibly make it worse.


Canes are one of the finest mobility devices out there. It is easy to use, carry, and also commonly available. When you are in need of a cane, we would suggest doing your research properly so that you can get the perfect cane for your needs.

Learning how to use a cane the correct way is essential to ensure its effectiveness and safety when walking. To avoid falling or adding to your existing injury, be sure to follow the right steps in adjusting and securing the height of the cane and use it on the correct side for faster recovery!

  • Updated March 28, 2020
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