People who are familiar with mobility aids, either because they use one or they know someone who does, still may have misconceptions about them. Here are a few things you didn’t know about walking canes.
Use It on Your Good Side
If you use a walking cane for balance, stability, or support after an injury or surgery, your health care professional probably went through how to use the cane properly. It’s frustrating to see other cane users using their walking sticks on the wrong side of their bodies. A walking cane goes on the stronger side of your body. The correct way to move ahead with the cane is to move it with the weaker leg, which should be on the opposite side as the cane. That way, the cane provides the additional support that the weaker leg lacks.
That Cane Might Be Hiding Something
Over the centuries, canes evolved to become multi-taskers. Canes have concealed grooming kits, coin scales, flasks, pens, swords, and cameras. They’ve also hidden cosmetics, transported jewelry, carried mini-croquet sets, and doubled as lab assistants (by converting into microscopes) or explorer’s aids (with a compass in the handle). Artists and architects carried pens and drafting materials within canes, and ladies and dandies of the 1880s could have canes with fold-out fans to cool off on hot days. Canes have even doubled as fishing rods and cider presses. Silk came to the west out of China because two monks concealed silkworm eggs in hollow walking sticks.
Some Canes Are Adjustable and Not All Cane Handles Are the Same
Some canes fold or collapse for easier carrying, while others are adjustable in length. You can get “seat canes” that fold out into a small, three-legged stool so you can sit down for a break. A wide variety of handle styles for different stability and style needs, for instance. For example, a person with hand or wrist pain that makes gripping difficult might use a palm grip handle, while a person with balance and stability issues might use an offset handled cane.
Pharaohs Kept Canes
Canes date back to prehistoric times and are thought to have originated as shepherd’s crooks or walking sticks for hilly areas. They have appeared as staffs for religious leaders and scepters for royalty. Ancient Etruscan carvings depict staffs and the Bible mentions royal scepters. Archaeologists who explored King Tut’s tomb found 130 walking sticks and canes in the Pharaoh’s tomb. Other royal cane enthusiasts included King Henry VII, Henry VIII, Queen Victoria, and Louis XIV.
Canes Signaled Social Status
At one time in the 1700s, a person required a license to carry a cane. Carrying it incorrectly could result in a discussion with the police. During the 18th and 19th centuries, canes became an indispensable fashion item, and ladies and gentlemen had different canes for day and evening use.
These are just a few of the interesting things you may not have known about canes and walking sticks.