Those who have used walkers or are just about to use walkers for their walking needs, might have seen others put up tennis balls on to those walkers and wondered why is that the case. In this piece we explain why do people use tennis balls in their walkers, whether it’s the right thing to do and the process to add these tennis balls on to the walker.
Why Tennis Balls on Walkers?
The basic reason to use tennis balls is it offers some more stability to those using the walkers who find it difficult to lift up the walker and instead prefer sliding it further down to aid their walking.
The typical walker available in any medical equipment store is usually designed to be able to find a solid grip on a concrete or tiled floor.
This becomes quite counter-productive to when the patient lacks the ability or the strength to lift the said walker while stepping forward, thereby necessitating the person to improvise by adding something that helps slide the walker forward.
Should I Use Tennis Balls on Walkers?
Using tennis balls on walkers is a very personal decision but what we can do is to look at the pros and cons associated with doing so in the sections below.
Pros of Tennis Balls on Walkers
Some of the biggest advantages associated with using two or four tennis balls on walkers are as follows:
- As mentioned above, they help the person using the walker to slide it rather than lift the walker. While walkers are typically not very heavy, the constant lifting and putting it does require a certain amount of stamina and strength on the part of the person using them.
- Tennis balls also reduce the noise that comes with the constant lifting and putting the walker on the floor. With time the bottom portion of these walkers does wear out and leads to squeaky noises which can be prevented by using tennis balls.
- There is also an added stability that comes with tennis balls. This happens because the surface area of the tennis ball is contact with the ground is a lot more than when the walker is used without these balls.
- It’s a lot cheaper to use tennis balls than to replace the ‘soles’ of a walker.
Disadvantages Associated with Walkers Having Tennis Balls
Now while we can sing a lot of praises about why using tennis balls on a walker come with their own benefits, there are a few disadvantages associated with it as well. Here’re a few of them.
- According to some experts there could be a few health issues associated with using tennis balls in walkers. Sue Chen, the CEO of NOVA, has exhorted people not to use them because they are unsafe, unsanitary and pose a health hazard as a result of the germs that could sit on the surface of the tennis balls
- According to Chen, and some other experts, using tennis balls could reduce the shelf life of a walker because of a possibility of excessive wear and tear on it
- One needs to be very sure of the manner in which the tennis balls are fitted. Any incorrect fitting could cause safety problems for the end user
- Tennis balls on walkers do not look very attractive
Step by Step Process to Add Tennis Balls to Walkers
If you have never done this before, the process to add tennis balls to your walker legs might not come across as an easy one but with time you can easily grow used to it.
Here’s how you can achieve this using a step by step guide.
- You will need to get yourself the equipment that’s needed to fit the tennis balls to your walker. The most obvious is a pair (or four) tennis balls but other than you also need a cutter along with a hammer and nails.
- Please note there’s always an option to buy pre-cut tennis balls as explained in the section below but that comes at an extra cost. You can also get yourself a ball cutter but if you are not looking to convert this into ball-cutting services for others, that’s an overhead you would probably want to avoid even if it makes life so much easier.
- To begin with, hold the ball tightly, mark a dot on the tennis ball and using the hammer and nail, puncture a hole through that dot. Use the cutter to cut a straight line passing through that hole which is about 2 inches long.
- Use the same cutter to cut another straight line passing through where that dot was, but this time at 90 degrees to the previous line. Again, this should be 2 inches long.
- Once you have these two lines formed in the shape of an X, you can try to fit the ball into one of the legs of your walker by turning it upside down. If it fits in properly you are set, and if it doesn’t, use the cutter to adjust accordingly.
- Repeat process 3-5 for the second ball too and you are ready to go!
- Now, place the walker like you normally would and try to start walking using it.
- It will take some time to do both, get the cutting of the balls right and then to use the walker accordingly as well but give it time and you should be there.
Here’s a video showing how you can cut a tennis ball and use it on a walker:
Are There Pre-Cut Tennis Balls Available to Use?
The short answer to this is yes, there are a few companies around the world which sell pre-cut tennis balls that can be slotted in nicely on to your walker legs.
As mentioned above there’s a step by step process associated with cutting the tennis ball and adding it to a walker, and its cumbersome nature can put a lot of people off.
Instead you could look to buy these pre-cut tennis balls to reduce your effort in using it for your walker.
Here’re few of the brands that deal with pre-cut tennis balls for walkers:
- PreCut Tennis Balls (Check Price on Amazon Here)
- Top Glides Precut Walker Tennis Ball (Check Price on Amazon Here)
- RMS Walker Glide Balls (Check Price on Amazon Here)
Alternatives to Tennis Balls Used in Walkers?
The alternative to using tennis balls on walkers is to fit these walkers with skis. As the name suggests, they look like the skis used while skiing in snow and can be slotted into your walker much more easily than the aforementioned tennis ball option.
While these might not glide as easily as a tennis ball, they provide the same stability – or even more – than a pair of tennis balls would.
There is another option, i.e. the use of walker coasters. Check below how a walker coaster looks and how it could provide some stability to the walker too.
Final Words on Putting Tennis Balls on a Walker
As you can see from the article above, there are pros and cons associated with using tennis balls on your walker.
If you think you are confident enough to do and if the benefits far outweigh the cons, the process to cut the tennis balls and plug them on to your walker legs has been explained above with a video to make the process simpler.