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Using Crutches

Man Using Crutches

Sizing Your Crutches

Most crutches are adjustable, so you can fine tune the height of the crutches as well as the placement of the handgrip in the comfort of your home. Even if you are measured for crutches, individualize your own comfort and make adjustments that make using the crutches feel more comfortable to you.

Some general guidelines for underarm style crutches:

  • Crutch pad distance from armpits. The crutch pads (tops of crutches) should be 1.5" to 2" (about two finger widths) below the armpits, with the shoulders relaxed.
  • Handgrip. Place it so your elbow is flexed about 15 to 30 degrees—enough so you can fully extend your elbow when you take a step.
  • Crutch length (top to bottom). The total crutch length should equal the distance from your armpit to about 6" in front of a shoe.

It’s important to remember that your weight should be supported by your hands on the hand pads. The underarm pads should be pressed against the sides of your chest, not pressed up under the armpits. Crutches should be positioned slightly to the side and forward to provide a stable base.

Walking and Standing with Crutches

Walking with Crutches

  1. Lean forward slightly and move both crutches about one foot in front of you. Shift your weight to the crutches and swing forward.
  2. Swing your good leg forward between the crutches and place it in front of you on the ground.
  3. Shift your weight to your good leg and start your next step by moving the crutches about one foot in front of you.
  4. Remember to look ahead to where you are walking and not to look at your feet.

Standing Up with Crutches

  1. Move to the front edge of the chair. Hold both crutches in the hand on your injured side.
  2. Hold the arm of the chair with the free hand. Put your weight on your good leg, push yourself up with your arms and stand on your good leg.

Managing Stairs with Crutches

Going Up Stairs with Crutches

  • If there is no handrail, use both crutches and lead with the good leg. Stand close to the step and with your weight on the crutches, lift your good leg up to the first step. Once your weight is on the good leg, bring the crutches up to the same step. Repeat this process on each step.
  • If there is a handrail, use it. Hold both crutches in one hand, hold the handrail with the other, and with all your weight on your arms, bring the good leg up one step. Then bring the crutches up to that step and repeat for each step.

Going Down Stairs with Crutches

  • Using crutches to walk down stairs can be very challenging.
  • To go down stairs, hold your bad leg out in front of you and hop down each stair on your good leg. Use the crutches or handrails as above.
  • Take it one step at a time. Ask someone to "spot" you the first time you try this.
  • If this is too difficult, try sitting on the stairs and inch yourself down one step at a time.