What is the difference between a walking stick and a cane?

walking stick or walking cane

It is well known that something strong and long, like a pole, stick or cane, can be a great benefit for those that are trying to move across distances and want to reduce pressure on their knees and legs. Though one can theoretically use a stick that you find on the ground for walking, these are not an ideal solution, which leaves two other options:

·        Walking Poles
·        Canes

While they may sound at first as though they have the same uses, they are not designed to be used for the same functions. Here are several of the differences between canes and walking poles.


Canes are designed to be closer to the ground. It is expected that hose that use canes will lean on them, possibly facing downward depending on the shape of their back and the degree of slouching that the user needs to do. They are shorter so that they can be grabbed downward and leaned on with each step. Walking poles are not quite as short, so that they can be grabbed using a forward hand motion. Rather than leaning on them for support, they are pushed downward using the arm muscles to help reduce leg pressure. They also help keep your back straight so they cause less back pain than canes.


Canes are designed with the handle bent parallel to the ground so that they can be pushed downward using the weight of the person that is often supporting themselves. They are also thicker, because if they break they can cause serious injury to the person depending on them. Walking poles are thinner because they are designed for more activity, and thus designed to be lighter. Their handles are straight up for the different type of grasping. Walking poles also have points in the bottom to make them more valuable in harsher terrain, while canes are expected to only be used over dry concrete and other flat areas.

General Purpose

Of course the primary difference between the two items is their general purpose. Canes are designed to support those with injuries that can no longer support themselves. It is expected that without these canes the person runs a high risk of falling, so the cane is made only to ensure that the person doesn’t fall, without regard to the physical health to the user. Walking poles, on the other hand, are designed for general fitness and long distance support. While they can support you if you are falling, they are mostly used to get your full body in motion so that you can maneuver over longer distances and get support you need over tough terrain. Walking poles are used by men and women of all ages, and are designed to withstand harsh environments and be the assistance that one needs to trek across even the longest of distances or the highest of hills.

Canes vs Walking Poles

If you are elderly or injured and need to make constantly sure that you are not falling, a cane is your best bet, as it is designed to reduce your risk of falling. However, canes are not designed for anything else. They do not get your whole body in motion, and they are not made to help you trek across tough terrain without hurting your back. Walking poles are for anyone of any age, while canes are only for those that truly need help not falling in regular/every day situations.