How to Use Crutches
Using crutches can sound like a straightforward process, but there are quite a few steps involved to ensure that you are using your crutches properly. Using crutches properly will result in faster recovery and will limit any damage that can be caused by the crutches themselves.
It is not uncommon for someone to use their crutches improperly. Use this article as a step-by-step guide to ensure you are using yours in a way that will prevent further injury, and speed up your recovery time.
Getting Started With Crutches
- If you have an adjustable pair of crutches, use the height guide to select the optimal position based on your height.
- Stand up as straight as you can and place the crutches under your arms.
- The crutches will be at the correct height if you can fit 2 to 3 fingers between the top of the crutch and your armpit.
- Your wrists should line up with the hand grabs when you drape your arms over the armpit pads.
- Once all the settings are calibrated and everything lines up, you can now begin to walk with your crutches. Always remember to never use your armpit pads to rest your weight on the crutches. This can cause some nerve damage and reduce strength in your arms.
- Remember to support your weight with your hand grips and not placing your body weight directly on the armpit pads.
Walking with Crutches
- Move both crutches forward in front of you, determining your stride length.
- Start your forward momentum with your injured leg first, moving it to the center of the crutches position
- Grip each crutch in your hand, keep your elbows straight.
- Move your uninjured leg between or ahead of the crutches to compete the stride.
When you first start walking with your crutches, it should be slow going until you are used to it. You will notice the strides getting larger and quicker as you progress.
Sitting with crutches
- To make things easier on you, be sure to have chosen a sturdy chair. Rocking chairs can be quite tricky, especially if you are just getting started with your crutches.
- Move your body forward on the chair until you can firmly plant your good foot on the floor flat with your knee at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold both crutches in one hand. With your free hand, use the chairs armrest to lift yourself up. Bear all your weight on your good leg.
- Transfer the crutches to under your arms once you have your balance and are ready to begin walking.
How to use Crutches on Staircases
A couple of tips to keep in mind when dealing with stairs; be sure to use a handrail if one is available. If there is no railing available, be sure to use both crutches while using stairs.
- Get as close to the bottom step as you can.
- Place your good leg on the step.
- Using the handrail, pull yourself up onto the first step with all your weight on your good leg.
- Pull your injured leg and crutches up to the new step you are on and repeat.
- If someone is helping you, be sure that they stay behind you in the event you slip or fall, they will be in the correct spot to help.
Going down stairs
- Get as close to the edge of the step as you can.
- Grab the handrailing where the first step will be.
- Place your crutches on the step you want to go down to, followed by your injured leg.
- Follow with your good leg to complete the step.
- If someone is helping you go down a flight of stairs, be sure that they are standing below you and to the side.
If you are ever in a situation where you can only use one crutch, be sure to use it in the opposite hand as your injured leg. This will ensure the proper support and reduce the likelihood of further injury.
Things to Look for Before Using Crutches
Always be sure to inspect your crutches. They should have good rubber tips that are not worn to reduce the risk of slipping on surfaces.
If you feel any numbness or a tingling sensation under your armpits, this will indicate that you are placing too much body weight on the top portion of your crutches and can result in nerve damage.
Be cautious of any wet surfaces, they can be deceptively slippery.
Stow away any loose rugs or mats in your home while using crutches, as they can be a slipping hazard.
Be sure to listen to your doctor about how much weight can be used on your injured leg. If it is recommended not to put any weight on the leg, try and keep this in the forefront of your mind for the quickest recovery possible.
Do not stop using your crutches unless your doctor or healthcare professional has notified you to stop.