How to Use Crutches
If you are unable to bear your full weight on one leg due to an injury or surgery, you'll have to learn how to use crutches. It's important to use the proper technique to avoid causing greater injury to your hurt leg or foot. Crutches can be a pain when you don't know how to use them, but follow this guide to learn how to make your experience less miserable!
Obtain new crutches or used ones that are in very good condition. Make sure the crutches are sturdy, and that the rubber padding, where your armpit rests, is still springy. Inspect the bolts or pins that adjust the crutch length. Make sure the crutches have the rubber tips at the bottom.
Adjust the crutches to a comfortable height. Stand up straight and place your palms on the hand grips. When adjusted to the correct position, the top of the crutches should reach between 1.5 to 2 in (3.8 to 5.1 cm) below your armpits. The hand grips should be even with the top of your hip line.
When the crutches are properly adjusted, your arms should be comfortably bent while you stand up straight.
When you adjust the crutches, wear the shoes you'll be most frequently wearing when you use the crutches. They should have low heels and good support.
Hold the crutches correctly. The crutches should be held tightly to your side for maximum control. The cushions at the tops of the crutches should not actually touch your armpits; rather, your hands should absorb the weight of your body as you start to use the crutches.
Walking and Sitting
Use the crutches to help you walk. Lean forward and place both crutches about a foot in front of your body. Move as though you are taking a step with your injured foot, but place your weight instead on the handgrips of the crutches. Swing your body forward and rest your non-injured foot on the ground. Repeat to continue moving forward.
Hold your injured foot cocked slightly behind your body, several inches from the floor so that it does not drag.
Practice walking this way with your head forward, rather than looking at your feet. The motion will begin to feel more natural with practice.
Practice walking backward, too. Look behind you to make sure no furniture or other items are in your way.
Use the crutches to help you sit. Locate a sturdy chair that won't slide backward when you sit down. Back up to it and put both crutches in one hand, leaning on them slightly and placing your injured foot in front of you. Use the other hand to steady yourself against the chair and lower yourself into the seat.
Lean the crutches against the wall or a sturdy table with the armpit rests down. They may topple over if you lean them tip-down.
When you're ready to stand up, turn the crutches right side up and hold them in the hand on your non-injured side. Hoist yourself up and place your weight on your healthy foot, then pass one crutch to the injured side and balance using the hand grips.
Taking the Stairs
Lead with your good foot when you go up stairs. Face the stairs and hold the handrail with one hand. Tuck the crutches beneath your armpit on the other side. Step up with your good foot and keep your injured foot behind you. Lean on the crutches as you take the next step with your good fit and again bring your injured foot up from behind.
You may want to ask a partner to help you the first few times you take the stairs since it can be tricky to keep your balance.
If you go up stairs without a railing, place a crutch under each arm. Step up with your good foot, bring your injured foot up, then put your weight on the crutches.
Go down stairs with your injured foot in front of you. Hold the crutches under one armpit and grasp the handrail with your other hand. Carefully hop down to the next step. Hop down one step at a time until you reach the bottom.
If the steps don't have a handrail, lower your crutches to the stair below, move your injured leg down, then step down with your other foot with your weight on the hand grips.
To reduce the risk of accidentally taking a topple, you can also seat yourself on the top step, holding your injured foot in front of you, and use your hands to support yourself as you scoot down the steps one stair at a time. You'll have to ask someone to bring the crutches down for you.
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