How to fit and use crutches safely

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Walking with Crutches

If you need crutches here are some tips to help you adjust your crutches to fit.

Proper Measurement

  • Stand tall with your shoes on (shoes should have low heels, good support).
  • Put the crutches under your arms. Relax your arms and let them hang down over the crutches.
  • There should be a 2-inch space between your armpit and the top of the crutch (2 to 3 finger widths).
  • With your hands hanging relaxed, the hand grips should be at the level of your wrist.

Safety Tips for Proper Use of Crutches
To stand up: Hold both crutches by the hand grips in one hand and push up with the other hand on the chair. Put one crutch under each arm.

To sit down - reverse the process:
Place both crutches in one hand holding the hand grips together and reach for the chair with your other hand to lower yourself slowly.

Never lean on the tops of your crutches!
You can hurt a nerve causing numbness and tingling into your arm. Take the weight through your hands.

How much weight to take when walking:

  • Nonweight bearing - keep your foot off the ground.
  • Featherweight bearing - very slight weight on your foot.
  • Partial weight bearing - "some" weight on your foot, "some" through your hands on the crutches.
  • Weight bearing as tolerated - put as much weight as is comfortable, not enough to cause or increase pain in your leg.

To take a step with crutches:

  • Squeeze the crutches between your upper arm and ribs. Take the weight through your hands.
  • Move the crutches forward.
  • Move your sore leg forward - put your foot even with crutches.
  • Put as much weight as you are allowed on the sore leg, taking the rest of the weight through your arms and hands (press hard on the hand grips).
  • Step past with your stronger leg.
Crutches first, sore leg next, then stronger leg.

Going up and down stairs:
Whenever possible, use a handrail. Place one crutch under one arm and use the handrail with the other arm for support.

Going up
: step up with the stronger leg, then the sore leg, and lastly bring up the crutch.

Going down:
lower crutch down to the step below, move your sore leg down and then bring your stronger leg down.

Make sure the crutch tip is completely on the stair!

If you don't have a handrail: Be Careful - you may lose your balance! Keep one crutch under each arm. Follow the same procedure as above. Have someone help you or avoid stairs until you're stronger.

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