How to Use Crutches Correctly

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Buy How to Use Crutches WorksheetWalking with Crutches may seem simple, but if you don’t use crutches correctly, or if the crutches are the wrong height, you could hinder your recovery. In this video, Doctor Jo shows you the basics of walking with crutches and sizing them correctly for various situations.

One of the most important things about crutches is to have the right height. The legs are adjustable, and most of them now have the height for each hole, but this is just for guidance. You should have a slight bend in your elbow and the top of the crutches should be about 2 inches below your armpit, not touching so you don’t press on the nerves in your armpit. You also want the crutches to be slightly out to the side and not right by your feet, so you have some more stability when walking.

So once you have the crutches correctly adjusted, you need to know how much you are allowed to put on your injured side. There is non-weight bearing, toe touch weight bearing, partial weight bearing, and weight bearing as tolerated.

The first one is non-weight bearing. Without shrugging your shoulders, shift all your weight to your good leg, and then bring both crutches forward in front of you. Then shift your weight onto the crutches, and swing your good leg forward. The crutches go where your injured leg would go. Continue this movement.

Then next one is a toe touch weight bearing. You can put about 20% of your body weight on your injured leg, or imagine you are putting your foot on eggshells, and you don’t want to crush them. The crutches go where your injured leg goes. Bring your crutches and your injured leg forward putting most of your weight on the crutches and step through with the good leg. Continue this movement.

Now you have partial weight bearing or maybe even weight bearing as tolerated. So now you can go down to one crutch. Begin in a standing upright position holding a crutch on the opposite side of your injured leg. The crutch goes where your injured leg goes. Bring your crutch and your injured leg forward and step through with the good leg. Continue this movement. Try not to lean on the crutch. It is just there for a little bit of support to get you closer to walking without anything.


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