Preventing Falls: Moving Safely Using a Cane or Walker

Closeup of woman holding handrail and using a cane while walking down stairs outdoors.

A walking aid, such as a cane or walker, can help you stay more independent and prevent falls. Remember to keep your walking aid within easy reach when you're in a chair or in bed. And learn how to use it safely so you don't injure yourself. Be sure the cane or walker is the correct height. Hang your arm loosely at your side, and measure the distance from your wrist to the floor. The distance should be the same as the height of your cane or walker.

Using a cane

If you have a stronger side, hold the cane on the side of your stronger leg.

  1. Get your balance.

  2. Move the cane and your weaker leg forward.

  3. Support your weight on both the cane and your weaker side.

  4. Step with your stronger leg.

  5. Start again from step 1.

Using a walker

  1. Roll the walker (or lift it, if you're using one without wheels) forward about 12 inches. Try to keep your back straight and look forward as you move the walker.

  2. Step forward with your weaker leg first to about the center of the walker.

  3. Use the walker to help keep your balance.

  4. Bring your other foot forward to be even with your weaker leg.

  5. Start again from step 1.


  • Check with your healthcare provider about the right walking aid to use. Ask about a walker with a seat attached.

  • Check the tips of your cane or walker to make sure they have nonskid covers and aren't worn or uneven.

  • Move slowly from room to room. Don't rush.

  • Sit down to get dressed.

  • Use a fanny pack or backpack to keep your hands free.

  • Get help for jobs that mean climbing, even on a stepstool.

  • Don't try going up or down stairs using a walker.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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