How to walk safely with a cane

Canes are often used to assist in balance, widen one’s base of support, and decrease weight bearing loads on the lower extremities. In order to achieve these functions, one must know how to use a can properly. Here I will review the appropriate way to walk safely with a cane on level surfaces.


1)      Hold the cane in the hand on your unaffected leg or side.  

2)      Place your full weight on the unaffected leg – this leg should always assume your full weight prior to walking.

3)      Take a step with the affected leg, while simultaneously advancing the cane. 

4)      Lean your weight through the arm holding the cane. Ensure that this is synchronized with placing your weight on the affected leg so that the affected leg shares your weight with the cane.  (this is the essence of the walking cane – to share the weight distribution between the affected leg and the cane!)

5)      Then you may take a step forward with the unaffected leg – and start all over again.


It takes a bit of practice to get used to this procedure, but once you got the hank of it, it becomes a habit and you do not need to think about it at all!



·        Always only allow the unaffected leg assume the full weight-bearing step.

·        Ensure that the walking cane or device is capable of taking your weight load without collapsing or breaking.

·        Ensure the tip of the cane has a rubber ‘stopper’ so that it does not slip on slippery surface.

·        Ensure that the cane is placed in such a way or angle that you will not slip when weight is applied on the cane. Beware of slippery surfaces or gravel!





Written by John Chow,  a practitioner of Chinese medicine, acupuncturist, masseur, healer and teacher of Tai Chi, Chi kung, martial arts (Arnis/Eskrima) and spiritual paths in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Copyright:-  No part of this article can be used, quoted, copied in any form without the permission from the author.  For further information on this article, please contact John Chow  of Tao of Tai Chi Chuan Institute  at


Legal caveat:-

The information provided above is for general reference only.  Although the author(s) has attempted to be as thorough as possible in compiling the information in this article(s), no legal responsibility nor liability is accepted for any errors or omissions. The information is presented for educational purposes only. Please refer any medical matter to your doctor before acting on any health-related information. The author(s) disclaim any responsibility for any accidents that may happen from following the instruction given.

The reader is advised to separately obtain training and instruction from a qualified and authorised personnel in the subject area.