The best guide to walking on crutches safely and efficiently:
Before you get started on this journey, let’s make sure your crutches are adjusted appropriately to your height. If possible, your doctor or therapist should help you adjust your crutches to the correct height. Otherwise, adjust your mobility aid to the point where the grip is directly under your palm while standing upright.
Posture, Posture, Posture
Ensure that you are not hunched over and that the position of the crutches will allow a healthy spinal position. It’s okay if you don’t get it right the first time, try again and find what’s the most comfortable.
Let's get started
Time to get moving! Often, one of the most difficult things to do on crutches is to get out of a seated position. Your crutches can help; let’s start to rely on them.
- From a seated position, grab the hand grip on a single crutch and firmly place the crutch out in front of you. Use a friend’s hand, the chair back, or the other crutch in the other hand to maximize stability.
- Crutches are used to replace the support of the affected leg, let them do their job and ensure that you take the first steps on the correct foot.
- Once you are comfortable with standing on crutches, balance on your unaffected leg and aim for a spot in front of you where you would like to move.
Move with intention
Move the crutches with intention, and take careful consideration as to where you place the ends of the crutches down. There are many objects and obstacles that you may take for granted in your everyday life. It’s time to start looking out for them and focus on movement with a purpose.
- Once you plant your crutches down in the direction you wish to move, move the affected leg forward followed by the unaffected leg.
- If you have been instructed to keep all weight off your affected leg, proceed with a swing through gait and place your unaffected leg down at the end of the swing, typically in front of the pivot point of the crutches.
- If your affected leg is weight bearing, you should still use your crutches to support your weight. Once the crutches are planted and motion is initiated, you should lead with the affected leg. Just take care to not come down with all your weight on the affected leg. A good follow through with the unaffected leg will be necessary.
Similar, but not equal
Finally, remember that all medical equipment is not created equally and you are lucky if you get what you pay for. If the crutches are $20, then it is likely that they will hurt and be uncomfortable. If you will be on crutches for an extended period, a small investment will go a LONG way.
This has been a brief introduction to walking on crutches! Make sure to come back and read our experts guide to navigating life on crutches.