Proper Crutch Use

Sizing Your Crutches
Even if you've already been fitted for crutches, you should make sure your crutch pads and handgrips are set at the proper distance:

  • Crutch pad distance from armpits: The pads at the top of the crutches should be 1.5 to 2 inches below the armpits (about two finger widths) with the shoulders relaxed
  • Handgrip: Place it so your elbow is flexed about 15-30 degrees, enough so you can fully extend your elbow when you take a step
  • Crutch length: The total crutch length should equal the distance from your armpit to around 6 inches in front of your shoe

Begin in the Tripod Position
This is the position you stand in while in crutches. To get into the tripod position, place the crutch tips about 4-6 inches to the side and in front of each foot and stand on your good foot. 

Walking with Crutches (Non-weight-bearing)
If your podiatrist has told you to avoid putting ANY weight on your affected foot, please follow these instructions carefully. 

  1. Begin in the tripod position, making sure to keep all your weight on your good foot. 
  2. Move the crutches and your affected foot forward
  3. Move your good foot forward past your crutches, keeping all your weight on this foot
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3

Managing Chairs with Crutches
To get in and out of a chair safely:

  1. Make sure the chair is stable and will not roll or slide away from you. It must also have arms and back support
  2. Stand with the backs of your legs touching the front of the seat
  3. Place both crutches in one hand, grasping them by the handgrips
  4. Hold on to the crutches on one side and the chair arm on the other side for balance, while lowering yourself to a seated position, or while getting up from the chair

Managing Stairs without Crutches
The safest way to go up and down stairs is to use your bottom, not your crutches. To go up stairs:

  1. Seat yourself on a low step
  2. Move your crutches upstairs by either
    • Placing your crutches at the top of the stairs, if possible, or
    • Place the crutches as far up the stairs as you can, moving them to the top as you make your way up
  3. While seated, reach behind yourself with both arms
  4. Use your arms and good foot to lift yourself up one step
  5. Repeat until you reach the top

To go down stairs

  1. Seat yourself at the top step
  2. Move your crutches downstairs by sliding them to the lowest possible point on the stairway (safely!). Then continue to move them down as you progress down the stairs. 
  3. While seated, reach behind yourself with both arms
  4. Use your arms and good foot to lift yourself down one step
  5. Repeat

Use these rules for safety and comfort

  • Don't look down. Look straight ahead while you walk as you would normally
  • Don't use crutches when you feel dizzy or drowsy
  • Don't walk on slippery surfaces. Avoid snowy, icy, or rainy conditions
  • Don't put  any  weight on your foot if your doctor has advised you not to
  • Make sure your crutches have rubber tips on the bottoms
  • Wear well-fitting, low heel shoes
  • Make sure the hand grips are positioned correctly (See Sizing Your Crutches)
  • Keep the pads 1.5-2 inches below your armpits
  • Call your podiatrist if you have any questions, concerns, or difficulties