Tips To Using The Crutches Safely – Part I

6 April 2020

If you have just gone through an operation for your leg or foot or suffer from a leg or foot injury or a fracture, your orthopaedic doctor may prescribe you with a pair of crutches to use.

Crutches are one of the many walking aids that people use to help them:

  • reduce or totally relieve weight from the injured leg,
  • relieve pain from the injured leg and,
  • provide stability to the unstable injured leg during ambulation.

However, using them is not as easy as it looks. It takes some instruction, coordination and practice to get it right. In this first part series, we will show you how to fit your crutches and walk safely with them during your recovery.


How To Fit Your Crutches

  1. Fit the crutches while standing. You should wear your shoes when having them fitted.
  2. They should be adjusted so that there is a space of 2 or 3 fingers width between the armpit and the top of the crutch.
  3. The handgrip should be adjusted so that the elbow is bent approximately 30° when the hand is on the handgrip.
  4. With your hands hanging relaxed, the handgrips should be at the level of your wrist.
  5. Keep the leg of the crutch 6 inches away from the base of your foot.

Sit To Stand

  1. Place both the crutches together and grasp the handgrips in one hand on the affected weak side.
  2. Place your weight on your good leg and use the free hand on the seat and the other hand on the handgrips to help push yourself up to a standing position.
  3. When you are stable, transfer one crutch to the good side and place both of them beneath your armpit.

Stand To Sit

It is the reverse of “Sit to Stand”.

Walking With Crutches

  1. To use your crutches, start by placing both of them in front of you. Squeeze them between your upper arm and ribs and take weight through your hands. Putting them too far out in front of you may require you to lean on them too much, making you less stable and putting pressure on the nerves in your armpit. So until you are more experienced, take small steps.
  2. Next, step forward with your weaker leg, putting as much weight as you are allowed it and taking the rest of the weight through your arms and hands. Your foot should line up with your them.
  3. Finally, step forward with your good leg.
  4. Repeat the three-step process (crutch -> weak leg -> good leg).

Walking With One Crutch

  1. Hold the crutch opposite to the weaker leg, i.e on the good side.
  2. Place the crutch in front of you.
  3. Next, step forward with the weaker leg.
  4. Finally, step forward with your good leg.
  5. Repeat the three-step process (crutch -> weak leg -> good leg).

Safety Considerations

  • Ensure walking crutches are in good working condition, e.g rubber tips.
  • Always wear proper non-slip footwear. Avoid socks and floppy slippers.
  • Remove any loose rugs or obstacles from your path that can potentially trip you over.
  • Always check with your doctor or physiotherapist on the type of walking aid that might work best for you.

In the next series, we will take a look on how to climb up and down the stairs safely with your crutches. -CT