How To Use Crutches Properly - The Nebraska Medical Center

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Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m a physical therapist here at The Nebraska Medical Center. I’m

here today to show you some basic tips for how to use crutches correctly. If you have

not used crutches before, the first thing that you want to remember is they need to

be fit properly for you. So I’m going to go through a couple of basics for that.

The first thing you can check on your crutches to see if there’s a tool that will help

you decide your height and where they should be. This is kind of a reference only. So you

want to get the hole set to where your height is as a general reference point. And then

you’re going to turn the crutches right-side up and when you stand nice and tall with the

crutches at your side, when you hang your arms at side, the wrist part should line up

about with your wrist so that your pad and your wrist are even. And if you put your hands

on the pad, your elbow has a slight bend in it. The other thing to remember is that you

should have a little bit of a gap between your armpit and the top of the crutch so that

there’s some space there. The first thing you want to remember if you’re using crutches

is not to lean your armpits onto the top of the pads, because you can cause nerve damage

that will affect the sensation and the strength in your arms so that when you put your hands

on the crutches, you do have a slight bend in your elbow and a slight gap underneath

your armpits of about two finger-widths.

You’re going to put your affected extremity or leg forward, both crutches will be on the

side of the injured leg. You’re going to push up from the hand grip with one hand and

the chair or the bed with the opposite hand. You’re going to lean forward, push up with

both arms. Once you have your balance, you’ll bring one crutch around to the opposite side

and place both crutches beneath your armpits. And you can see that I am using the surface

behind me (the chair) a little bit, just to get some balance when I’m transferring one

crutch from one side to the other.

When you go from a standing position to a seated position, whether that be a chair or

a bed behind you, you want to back all the way up to the surface with your crutches until

you feel the chair or the bed behind your unaffected leg. Then you’re going to bring

the crutch around from your unaffected side to your injured side, bring the crutches out

from underneath your armpits, reach down for the hand grips. With the opposite hands, you’re

going to reach down for the chair or the bed. If you have a chair rest, it will be easier

to reach for that. You kick the affected foot forward and you have a seat. Nice and controlled.

What you don’t want to do is just look back to see if it’s there, bring your crutches

forward and have a seat like this.

Once your crutches are fit correctly and you’re standing up, you’re going to bring one crutch

around to the other side and stand up tall. Your doctor will let you know how much weight

you can put through your leg. For this video, I’m demonstrating not putting any weight

through my injured leg. You’re going to bring your crutches forward first, swing the

affected or injured leg forward first, and then take a small step with your good leg.

Crutches forward. Step. As you get better, you can start to take longer steps.

To ascend and descend stairs, take steps until you’re as close to the staircase as you

can be. If you have a railing, you want to use the railing if it’s available. The first

thing you’re going to do is take one of the crutches out from the side that you’re

using the railing on. Place both crutches underneath the opposite side, reach for the

hand railing, and you step up with your good leg. So you’re going to put weight through

both hands, step up with your left foot. And then you bring your crutches up. And my injured

leg is hanging behind me. You’re going to push through your hands and step up again.

Once you’re at the top of the staircase, bring one crutch around again and continue


To descend the stairs, you’re going to bring your crutches around to the opposite side

as the railing that you’re using and take a hold of the hand rail with the other hand.

To go down, you go down with your crutches first, then your injured leg comes forward

and you put the weight through your hands to step with your left foot, one step at a

time. Always remember to follow your doctor’s orders, as far as how much weight you can

put through your injured leg. But a few key things to remember when using crutches will

help you heal and get home safely: remember not to lean your arm pits onto the top of

the crutches, remember to always stand tall, and you’re going to move your crutches forward

before you step with your uninjured side.