How to use crutches safely

General instructions

  • Your crutches should be adjusted to your height before you use them.
    • When you are standing with the crutches slightly away from your feet, your elbows should be bent slightly (about 20-30 degrees).
    • The top part of the crutch should be about one inch below your armpit.
  • Walk slowly and carefully.
  • Do not rest crutches under armpit.
  • Remove throw rugs from floors.
  • Watch for water and oil on the ground, electric cords, bedspread corners, clothes and family pets.
  • Use a night light in bathroom, bedroom and hall.
  • Deep, overstuffed chairs and chairs without arms are difficult to stand up from.
  • Have someone with you while walking the first few days at home until you feel steady on your feet, especially on stairs and uneven surfaces.
Standing up from a chair
  • Place crutches together on the stronger side, holding both hand grips in one hand.
  • Push down on crutches and chair arm and stand on the stronger leg.
  • Place one crutch under each arm to get ready to walk.
Sitting down with crutches
  • Remove crutches from under arms and place on the weaker side.
  • Place your other hand on the chair arm and sit, sliding the weaker leg in front of you.
Walking with crutches
  • Place both crutches forward at the same time, about 6-8" out to the side and 12" in front.
  • Advance your weaker leg between the crutches.
  • Push down on the crutches as you move your stronger leg forward beyond the crutches.
Climbing stairs
  • Walk up close to stairs.
  • Place the foot of your stronger leg up on the first step.
  • Put weight on hands, straighten the stronger leg, and bring up the weaker leg and crutches.
Descending stairs
  • Walk up to the edge of the step.
  • Place crutches on the first lower step.
  • Place the foot of your weaker leg down on the first step.
  • Put weight on hands and lower body to the step, bringing the stronger leg with you.

ALTERNATE: Both crutches may be held in one hand and a hand rail substituted for one crutch.

Disclaimer: This material provides general information only. It should not be used in place of the advice, instructions, or treatment given by your doctor or other health care professional.