Please, please, please, don’t do this. There was a time when putting tennis balls on the back legs of walkers with wheels was a good idea and it solved more than a couple of problems. But, those days are long gone at this point.
We used to put tennis balls on the back legs of walkers because it was the rear legs that had the rubber “anti-slip” tips on them. Back in the 70s and 80s, most people who used walkers were actually in nursing homes. And, the floors in most nursing homes were covered with linoleum or tile.
Unfortunately, when these rubber tips on the rear legs of walkers came in contact with those linoleum floors, they made such a racket skidding across the floors that therapists had to come up with a solution that would make working there bearable (imagine a physical therapy room filled with seniors all using walkers trying to learn to walk again. It’s was a horrible racket. I remember).
Therapists came up with a simple solution: cut tennis balls to fit over the rear legs and voila! No more racket. Just the slight sliding sound or a felt covered tennis ball slipping across the floor.
And, these tennis balls worked great on solid smooth surfaces. However, they didn’t work too well on carpet or concrete surfaces. Thus, you couldn’t really use them in any other area than the nursing home or hosptial.
Fast Forward 30 years. Things had come a long way. While front wheel walker makers still used rubber tips on most folding walkers, they moved to a different option. That was a hard plastic tip which cuts down on the noise and drag that the rubber tips caused.
There was a downside to the new plastic tips though. They didn’t hold up very long on rough or concrete surfaces. The sidewalks and driveways tended to grind them down relatively quickly. And, if you weren’t paying attention, the concrete would begin to grind down the aluminum legs of the walker. That tended to cause havoc on hardwood floors and carpeting.
Fast forward another 10-15 years and we have…
The solution are what are affectionately known as “walker glides” or “walker ski glides“. They get the latter name from their resemblance to actual skis. These little walker accessories pop right on the rear legs of the walker with front wheels and make it just skate right along. Over carpet, tile, hardwood and even concrete. And they hold up on concrete a lot better than the hard plastic caps.
I am not sure why they are not standard issue when you buy a folding walker, but they’re not. You have to buy them separately and apply them yourself. But, it’s not that painful. They don’t cost a lot either and they’re easy to put on.
So, let’s look at how it’s done.
You can get these online at places like Amazon, or, you should be able to get them pretty cheaply at your nearest Walmart or pharmacy. They shouldn’t cost more than $10 US.
As I said earlier, they look like little skis.
You just pop the plastic caps off the back legs of the folding front wheel walker and …
Install the walker glides. You may have to alternately press either side to get them to seat properly. Don’t try to push them straight in. It’s a hassle.
And, voila! You are ready to rock and roll over hill and dale…
These little puppies really make using the walker a lot easier. They don’t drag, they don’t wear out fast. You can use them outside and inside. The only thing to keep in mind is that sometimes oxygen tubbing or the curled up edge of a carpet or rug can get caught on the ski. But, it’s usually easily taken care of.
If you’re therapist hasn’t suggested these, you may want to ask and see if they’re right for your situation.