How to Use Crutches

User Services

Technical Assistance:  How to Use Crutches



Gait training is important for the proper use of crutches.

  Proper Positioning

The top of the crutches should be held tightly to the sides, and the hands used to absorb the weight. The tops of the crutches should not press into the armpits.


The user should lean forward slightly and put the crutches about one foot ahead. Begin the step as if planning to use the injured foot or leg, but shift weight to the crutches instead of the injured foot. The body swings forward between the crutches. Finish the step normally with the non-injured leg. When the non-injured leg is on the ground, move the crutches ahead in preparation for the next step. Keep focused on the path ahead, not on the feet.


To sit, the user should stand with his/her back against the front edge of a sturdy chair. Stand on the non-injured foot with the injured foot lifted in front and both crutches held in one hand. Use the other hand to feel for the seat of the chair. Slowly lower the body into the chair. Lean the crutches upside down in a handy location. (Crutches tend to fall over when placed on their tips.) To stand up safely, the user should inch his body to the front of the chair in which he is sitting.

Hold both crutches in the hand on the good leg side. Push up and stand on the good leg, being careful to maintain balance while getting the crutches into position.


The user should use extreme caution while learning to walk up and down stairs on crutches.  It is advisable to have someone help until the user becomes proficient at negotiating stairs. Walking up and down steps or stairs requires both strength and flexibility.

Facing the stairway, hold the handrail with one hand and tuck both crutches under the armpit on the other side. When going up, lead with the good foot, keeping the injured foot raised behind. Even if the crutches and the handrail are used for support, this is essentially hopping up one step at a time on the uninjured foot. When going down, hold the injured foot up in front (to avoid hitting it on the stair behind,) and hop down each stair on the good foot. Take it one step at a time. When facing a stairway with no handrails, use the crutches under both arms and hop up or down each step on the good leg, using more strength.

An easier and safer way is to sit on the stairs (facing downward) and inch up and down each step. Start by sitting on the lowest stair with the injured leg out in front. Hold both crutches flat against the stairs in the opposite hand. Use the free hand and good leg for support and lift the bottom up to the next step. Face the same direction when going down the stairs this way.

General Guidelines for Use of Crutches in the Home

Remove scatter rugs, electrical cords, spills, and anything else that may obstruct the user’s ability to walk through the home, or may cause the user to trip or fall. In the bathroom, use nonslip bath mats (coated with rubber on the bottom.) The user may need a raised toilet seat and a shower or tub seat. Grab bars would be helpful – especially if the support devices will be required for a long period of time (for example, for someone with a long-term weakness instead of an injury.) Simplify the furniture layout in the home to allow access to necessary items and to keep everything else out of the way. Try using a backpack, fanny pack or apron to carry small items while using crutches.


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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.



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Other Information

Title: How to Use Crutches
Module: User Services
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Consumer
Sub Title:
Procedure: Technical assistance, User training
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 7:28 PM