A PERSONAL GUIDE TO WALKING CANE HANDLES
Walking cane handles can be made of hundreds of substances, hence the variety of styles they can become: molded from ABS plastic; metal-plated on resin; covered in leather, or carved from wood -- and these are just the beginning!
Handles are for your hands -- if your hand isn't comfortable on your walking cane, it can't support you correctly because you won't hold it correctly. The first thing you need to know is - when leaning on a walking cane for support - does it hurt your hand right away, or after a while? If so, then that handle is not for you.
Take a walk with me through walking cane history and explore a few of your many choices ...
The first "canes" were sticks, used as weapons for defense and hunting, and found to helpfully support a person when going up and down hills, or through tall grass, if long enough. No one worried about "handles" on their hiking stick, because it was for multi-uses.
The progenitor of official canes was the use of cane materials, bent into a crook or tourist handle, to support older and injured people when walking. Fledgling society was able to beginning to support its elders, so they were allowed to travel along with the rest. Using a cane this way enabled them to keep up and not tire so easily. The crook handle was the first true handle - made from bamboo and other cane materials that bent easily when steamed -- and they kept their shape when cooled. A crook is probably the least ergonomic of cane handles, but it is a classic, and many people prefer to have a cane that can hook on their arm when not in use.
The derby handle cane is today's most popular handle. It started centuries ago in Europe, when men carried canes, not necessarily for support, but as an accessory to their wardrobes. The fancier and more resplendent the cane, the more the gentleman was admired by one and all .... the ladies followed suit. It was the jewelry of the day. It proclaimed your wealth for all to see. It was a mark of your place in society.
The derby handle is a little more ergonomic, but not for all who use one. Handles of all types are made thicker for men's larger hands, and thinner for ladies. Don't let that persuade you to only buy one type, though, as your hands may not fit a strict gender guideline -- thickness of handles varies even when labelled "unisex"!
The Fritz handle was invented specifically for cane users with painful hands, as in arthritis. A German Count is credited with this increasingly-ergonomic handle that eliminated pressure points in the middle part of the hand. The derby and crook cane, due to their 'hump' shape, press in there, and can really hurt when leaned on hard. When you look at the Fritz handle, you can see how straight the top is, which makes it more comfortable. Definitely an improvement for those who depend on a cane for constant support when walking.
Walking cane handles have advanced to being made specifically for left hand or right hand use, a boon for those who only use one hand anyway, and much more comfortable when there is consistant use. Some designers make canes called 'anatomically correct' or 'contours' handles -- but these here are the classic Fischer handles, also known as Palm Grip. Your palm rests comfortably on top of the molded handle, which is surprisingly easy to hold on to. The other left and right hand styles of cane handles are also very ergonomic. I recommend you check them all out first.
There are many more styles of handles than I can review here -- historians have written whole books about canes through history. My concentration is on comfort -- your cane useage is unique to you, and only you can tell which handle is right for you. Try a few out when you can, until you find the perfect walking cane handle for your use.
Cheers, Valery Lytle, "Canes For All Walks of Life" eBay store