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How To Use Your Crutch Safely

If you have had an injury to your toe, foot, ankle or knee, be it a fracture or injury, your orthopedic doctor may prescribe you with crutches to move around.

So crutches are a type of walking that to help patients:

  • decrease or remove weight bearing from the injured leg/foot
  • decrease pain experienced
  • increase stability during moving around

That being said, crutches can be tricky - not only does it need specific teaching and instructions, patients will 100% need practice too to get it right (and safe).

how to fit your crutches to you

  1. First of all, you should fit your crutches to you in standing and you also should be wearing your shoes as you have your crutches fitted.
  2. Your crutches should be fitted such that there is an allowance/space of about 2-3 fingers gap between your armpit and the TOP of the crutch.
  3. Your handgroup should be fitted such that your elbow is bent about 30° when you're gripping it.
  4. When your hands are relaxed, the crutch handgrips should be at the same level of your wrists
  5. Each leg of the crutch needs to be at least 15 cm away from your foot (so that you wont trip over it and it provides a wider base of support)

sit to stand with your crutches

  1. First, bundle/place your crutches together in front of you and with ONE hand that on the affected/injured side, grasp both hand grips together.
  2. Place your weight on your good leg, and use the other free hand on the seat and the hand on the handgrip to liftoff to standing
  3. Take your time. Only when you are stable/secure, transfer a crutch to the good side and place both crutches under each armpits.

(to Stand To Sit, it's the reverse ie 3 > 2 > 1 of Sit To Stand)

Walking with your crutches

  1. To walk with your crutches, first you need to sit to stand with your crutches (as above)
  2. Next, take your first step with your weaker/injured leg, with some weight in your foot (if allowed) and as much weight in your hands and arms.
  3. Then the good leg

This is the 3-step-walk with a pair of crutches.

walking with one crutch (instead of 2)

  1. Place the crutch on your strong/uninjured side
  2. Place crutch in front of you.
  3. Then weaker/injured leg.
  4. Then strong/uninjured leg

going up stairs with crutch

Remember: going up stairs, good leg first

If there is no handrail:

  1. use both crutches and up first with good leg
  2. once weight is on good leg, bring crutch to same step as good leg
  3. then weaker leg
  4. ensure stability/balance then repeat

If there is handrail:

  1. Always use handrail for support if there is handrail (stronger and more stable support due to non-moving)
  2. Hold both crutch in one hand, handrail with other, all weight through arms, bring good leg up one step
  3. Then bring the crutches up to that step, then followed by the weaker leg
  4. Ensure you're stable before you take the next step.

going / walking down stairs with crutches

Remember, when going down stairs, down with bad leg first.

  1. Start at close to edge of step, ensuring your hip is stable and secure near you.
  2. Then place the crutches on the step below and then followed by injured leg to the step.
  3. Do ensure to flex/bend at the hip and knees (and not at your back), to prevent yourself from leaning forward too much (this may cause you to lose balance forward).
  4. Then step down with your strong/uninjured leg.
  5. Ensure you're stable before you take the next step.

If there is handrail, always prioritize handrail (as it's much more strong/stable as handrails don't move). Use handrail by holding both crutches on one side and the other side handrail for support.

Safety Considerations

  • Do always check to ensure that your crutches are in good working conditions eg handgrip is intact, rubber tip is good condition.
  • Wear appropriate and good non-slip footwear ie shoes.
  • Wherever possible, remove any objects in your home or just outside that are falls hazard/risks (increases your risk of falling/tripping)