Thumbnail image of: Crutches, How to Use: Illustration

Crutches: How to Use

What are crutches?

Crutches are supports that help you walk when you have an injured leg or foot.

How do I use crutches?

  • Walking
    • Hold the grips of the crutches. Bring the crutches forward evenly, keeping your injured leg off the ground. Lean forward, putting your weight on the grips. Swing your good leg forward, placing your foot just in front of the crutches. Repeat.
    • Don’t rest your armpits on the crutches. The pressure of your weight on your underarms can cause damage to nerves that pass through your armpits.
    • In some cases your healthcare provider may allow you to put some weight on your injured leg while you are using crutches. Follow your provider’s instructions.
  • Getting up from a chair or bed

    Using the hand on the side of your injured leg, hold both crutches together by the grips. Use your other hand to push up from the chair or bed. Stand on your good leg. Get your balance and bring your crutches into position on each side before you start to walk.

  • Sitting down

    Using the hand on the side of your injured leg, hold both crutches together by the grips. Hold onto the chair or bed with the other hand and lower yourself slowly. Unless you are allowed to put some weight on your injured leg, keep your injured leg off the ground and keep your weight on the good leg.

  • Stairs
    • Going up. Get close to the stairs. With your weight on the grips of the crutches, step up with the good leg. Then bring the crutches and the injured leg up to the same step. Repeat for each step.
    • Going down. First bring the crutches and the injured leg down to the lower step. Then step down with the good leg. Repeat for each step. If there is a handrail, put both crutches under the arm opposite the rail and use the rail for support.
    • Remember: “Up with the good, down with the bad.”
  • Going through doorways

    When you go through a doorway, be sure to give yourself enough room to allow your feet and crutches to clear the doorframe and door. Ask someone to hold the door open for you if possible. If you are by yourself, block it from swinging closed with your shoulder or a crutch tip.

How can I take care of myself while I’m using crutches?

  • Be careful not to slip on wet floors or trip over items on the floor. Ask for help to arrange your home so that you can get around safely on crutches, such as:
    • Remove area rugs and electric cords.
    • Arrange furniture so you have room to walk around without bumping the furniture.
    • Move items that you use frequently, such as a glass of water, phones, or a remote control, close to you when you are sitting.
  • Sometimes crutches rub against the skin between your arms and chest. You may want to use body lotion or talcum powder to prevent skin chafing.
  • If your hands get sore or tired, you may want to put extra padding on the crutch grips or get some padded bicycle gloves.
  • Be sure not to lean on the crutches and put pressure on your armpits. If you feel pressure on your armpits even when you use the crutches correctly, the crutches are too long and need to be shortened.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-27
Last reviewed: 2014-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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