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Crutches (cont.)

Proper Use and Instructions for Crutches

To begin walking with crutches, gradually shift your weight to your healthy leg. Move the crutches in front of you to a point at which you can maintain stability. For the swing movement, shift your weight from your healthy leg to your arms, swinging your body through the crutches as the crutches take up the weight. Plant your healthy leg at a point ahead, again maintaining stability, and shift your weight back to the leg. Then move the crutches forward to repeat the movement.

Studies have shown that your wrist receives from one to more than three times your body weight during the swing phase of walking with crutches -- a load the upper body was not designed to sustain.

  • Never support yourself on your armpits. Hold the handgrips for support.
  • While standing, place the crutches 8 in-10 in in front of you.
  • While walking, do not try to move too quickly or to cover too long a distance with each step. Keep the crutches close to your body.
  • Generally, people use a swinging gait, where the crutches are advanced and stabilized then the feet swung through after stabilization of the crutches has occurred.
  • While navigating on stairs, have someone assist you.
  • While going down stairs, place the crutches on the next step below, then step down with the good leg.
  • While going up stairs, step up with the good leg first, then bring the crutches up.
  • You may struggle with how to make crutches more comfortable. Crutch comfort can become an issue, as your body acclimates to their use. Cushioned covers for the underarm and handgrip areas may be purchased.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/26/2015

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