How to use Crutches

If your injury or surgery requires you to get around without putting any weight on your leg or foot, you may have to use crutches.

It takes some coordination to get around on crutches. To make sure you use your crutches correctly, please read these instructions and follow them carefully.

Proper Positioning

  • When standing up straight, the top of your crutches should be about 1-2 inches below your armpits.
  • The handgrips of the crutches should be even with the top of your hip line.
  • Your elbows should be slightly bent when you hold the handgrips.
  • To avoid damage to the nerves and blood vessels in your armpit, your weight should rest on your hands, not on the underarm supports.

Walking

Lean forward slightly and put your crutches about one foot in front of you. Begin your step as if you were going to use the injured foot or leg but, instead, shift your weight to the crutches. Bring your body forward slowly between the crutches. Finish the step normally with your good leg. When your good leg is on the ground, move your crutches ahead in preparation for your next step. Always look forward, not down at your feet.

Sitting

To sit, back up to a sturdy chair. Put your injured foot in front of you and hold both crutches in one hand. Use the other hand to feel behind you for the seat of your chair. Slowly lower yourself into the chair. When you are seated, lean your crutches in a nearby spot. Be sure to lean them upside down—crutches tend to fall over when they are leaned on their tips.

To stand up, inch yourself to the front of the chair. Hold both crutches in the hand on your injured side. Push yourself up and stand on your good leg.

Stairs

To walk up and down stairs with crutches, you need to be both strong and flexible. Facing the stairway, hold the handrail with one hand and tuck both crutches under your armpit on the other side. When you are going up, lead with your good foot, keeping your injured foot raised behind you. When you are going down, hold your injured foot up in front, and hop down each step on your good foot. Take it one step at a time. You may want someone to help you, at least at first. If you encounter a stairway with no handrails, use the crutches under both arms and hop up or down each step on your good leg, using more strength.

If you feel unsteady, it may be easier to sit on each step and move up or down on your bottom. Start by sitting on the lowest step with your injured leg out in front. Hold both crutches flat against the stairs in your opposite hand. Scoot your bottom up to the next step, using your free hand and good leg for support. Face the same direction when you go down the steps in this manner.

 

IMPORTANT!
Follow These Rules for Safety and Comfort

  • Don’t look down. Look straight ahead as you normally do when you walk.
  • Don’t use crutches if you feel dizzy or drowsy.
  • Don’t walk on slippery surfaces. Avoid snowy, icy, or rainy conditions.
  • Don’t put any weight on your foot if your doctor has so advised.
  • Do make sure your crutches have rubber tips.
  • Do wear well-fitting, low-heel shoes (or shoe).
  • Do position the crutch hand grips correctly (see “Sizing Your Crutches”)
  • Do keep the crutch pads 1½” to 2″ below your armpits.
  • Do call your surgeon if you have any questions or difficulties.