Healthsheet

Crutch Walking

Crutch Walking

Crutch adjustment

Make sure the crutches you use are adjusted to fit you. When you stand, there should be room to fit 2 to 3 fingers between the top of the crutch and your armpit. Your elbow should be slightly bent when holding the hand grips. When your arms hang down, the crutch handle should be at the top of your hip.

Crutch walking

Place the crutches forward about 1 foot in front of you. The crutches should be a little farther apart than your body. Lean your weight forward as you push down on the hand grips. Make sure your weight is on your hands and your strong leg, not your armpits. Let your body swing forward, landing on the strong leg. Move the crutches forward again. The crutch and your injured leg should move together.

Going up steps with no handrails

(Up with the good leg)

  • With both crutches (under each armpit) on the same step as your feet, push down on the hand grips.
  • Balancing with very light pressure on the weak leg, let your hands support your weight. Raise your strong leg onto the next higher step.
  • Transfer all your weight to your strong leg (still bent). Move the crutches up to the next step, next to your strong leg.
  • Keep your weight evenly balanced on the two crutches and your strong leg. Straighten your strong knee as you raise your weak leg up to the next step.

Going down steps with no handrails

(Down with the bad leg)

  • With both crutches (under each armpit) on the same step as your feet, push down on the hand grips.
  • Keep your weight evenly balanced on the two crutches and your strong leg. Bend your strong knee as you lower your weak leg down to the next step.
  • Let your strong leg support you (still bent) as you move the crutches down next to the weak leg.
  • Transfer your weight to your hands. Balance with very light pressure on your weak leg as you lower your strong leg next to your weak leg

Going up steps with handrails

(Up with the good leg)

  • Face the stairs, holding the handrail with one hand. Place both crutches under your armpit on the opposite side. Push down on the hand grips.
  • Balancing with very light pressure on the weak leg, let your hands support your weight. Raise your strong leg onto the next higher step.
  • Transfer all your weight to your strong leg (still bent) as you move the crutches up (while holding on to the handrail) to the next step next to the strong leg.
  • Keep your weight evenly balanced on the handrail, the crutches (still under the same armpit opposite the handrail), and your strong leg. Straighten your strong knee as you raise the weak leg up to the next step.

Going down steps with handrails

(Down with the bad leg)

  • Face the stairs, holding the handrail with one hand. Place both crutches under your armpit on the opposite side. Push down on the hand grips.
  • Balance your weight evenly on the crutches, handrail, and your strong leg. Then bend your strong knee as you lower the weak leg down to the next step.
  • Let the handrail and your strong leg support you (still bent) as you move the crutches down alongside the weak leg.
  • While holding on to the handrail and crutches (under the same armpit on the other side), transfer your weight to your hands, balancing with very light pressure on the weak leg as you lower your strong leg alongside your weak leg

Tip: If you are worried about falling or you feel unsteady, try sitting when going up or down stairs instead. Sit on the bottom step and keep your injured leg out in front of you. Hold your crutches flat against the stairs. Then slide up to the next step on your bottom. Use your free hand and good leg for support. Face the same way when going down stairs.

StayWell last reviewed this educational content on 5/1/2018

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