Tips for Walking on Crutches

Written by jaimie zinski
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Tips for Walking on Crutches
Walking on crutches can take some practice to finesse. (Crutches image by Megan van Dyck from Fotolia.com)

Many serious injuries of the leg, knee and foot will require a patient to walk on crutches. The first step is to be fitted for the correct size crutches. Crutches of the right length should have hand pieces that are level with the wrists when the armpits are placed over the upper pads and the arms are hung loosely. Walking on crutches can be more effective and less painful if done correctly.

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Walking While Not Bearing Weight on Injury

Many times an injury will be severe enough that the patient cannot use his bad leg or foot for any support. This will require him to walk on crutches without placing any weight on this injury. To achieve this, the patient should hold his injured leg or foot up in the air while walking. While squeezing the crutches between the body and arms, the patient should swing his good leg one step forward and step on this leg only. The bad leg should stay suspended at all times and swung with the crutches as they are advanced forward one step. Do not attempt to take large steps, and if the patient begins to fall he should use his arms as opposed to the crutches to break the fall. Stand up slowly after the fall or ask for assistance if you have trouble getting into the sitting or standing position.

Walking Up Stairs

The patient should use the stair rail and one of the crutches for support. The good leg should be lifted up the first stair while pushing down on the crutch and stair rail for added support. The injured leg or foot should then be lifted to meet the good leg on the step. The patient can also sit on the steps and use his good leg to push himself up the stairs if this is more comfortable. Ask a friend or family member to help you bring the crutches up the stairs or lift the crutches on your lap as you move slowly up the steps.

General Tips

Avoid walking on slippery surfaces, such as icy sidewalks or wet pavement. This could cause a serious fall. When walking with crutches, keep your head forward. Do not look down, which could cause you to become dizzy. If you do feel dizzy or lightheaded while walking on crutches, sit down immediately and wait for the sensation to pass before attempting to walk again. Wear tennis shoes or any other low-heeled shoes for the first few days or weeks, or until you are accustomed to walking on the crutches. Always keep the crutches within reach to avoid falling while reaching for them.

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