Using Crutches with Finesse
If you break a bone in your leg or foot or have a procedure on your knee or lower leg, your orthopedic specialist may recommend that you use crutches while you are healing or recovering. Using crutches can help keep your weight off your injured or weak leg, assist with balance and enable you to perform your daily activities more safely. With some simple instructions and a little practice, most people are able to quickly gain confidence and use crutches safely.
Tips for Using Crutches
- When standing up straight, the top of your crutches should be about 1-2 inches below your armpits.
- The handgrips of the crutches should be even with the top of your hip line.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent when holding the handgrips.
- To avoid damage to the nerves and blood vessels in your armpit, your weight should be on your hands, not on the underarm supports.
Posture and Walking
Lean forward slightly. Place your crutches about one foot in front of you. Shift your weight to the crutches. Bring your body forward slowly between the crutches. Finish the step normally with your good leg. When your good leg is on the ground, move your crutches one foot ahead in preparation for your next step. Always look forward, not down at your feet.
Sitting Down, Getting Up and Navigating Stairs
To sit, back up to a sturdy chair. Put your injured foot in front of you and hold both crutches in one hand. Use the other hand to feel behind you for the seat of your chair. Slowly lower yourself into the chair. To stand up, inch yourself to the front of the chair. Hold both crutches in the hand on your injured side. Push yourself up and stand on your good leg. To walk up and downstairs with crutches, you need to be strong and flexible. Facing the stairway, hold the handrail with one hand and tuck both crutches under your armpit on the other side. When you are going up, lead with your good foot, keeping your injured foot raised behind you. When you are going down, hold your injured foot up in front, and hop down each step on your good foot. Take it one step at a time. You may want someone to help you. If you feel unsteady, it may be easier to sit on each step and move up or down on your bottom.
Questions? For more information on using crutches or other walking aids such as canes or walkers, go to orthoinfo.aaos.org or discuss with your orthopedic specialist at Direct Orthopedic Care (DOC).
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