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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Using crutches (weight-bearing)

Te whakamahi i ngā rākau hauā

Your doctor will tell you if you're allowed to put weight on your leg and if so, how much. The weight you can put on your leg can range from a small amount, through to your whole body weight.

Setting the correct crutch height

Adjust the height of the crutch so:

  • with your arm straight by your side, the handle of the crutch is in line with the bone that sticks out above your wrist
  • the cuff of the crutch is just below your elbow.

To adjust the handle of your crutch, push the pins in and slide the crutch to the correct height. You can do the same to adjust the height of the cuff.

Photo showing the crutch handle in line with the wrist and the clasp just below the elbow

Walking

  1. Place both crutches forward, a short step length away.
  2. Move your affected leg forward until it's in line with the crutches. Take care not to put more weight on your affected leg than you're allowed to.
  3. Step with your good leg so it's in line with your affected leg.

photo showing someone walking with crutches as described in the text

Sitting down

Avoid moving between standing and sitting with your arms in the crutches.

  1. Keeping your affected leg slightly in front, bring your crutches together in front of you on the same side as your affected leg. Place them into an H shape holding the handles with one hand as shown in the picture.
  2. Reach your arm back for the surface behind you and slowly lower yourself to sit down.

photo showing someone standing with the crutches in a H shape ready to sit down as described in the text

Standing up

Avoid moving between sitting and standing with your arms in the crutches.

  1. Place your crutches together to form an H shape as shown in the picture.
  2. Use one arm to push down on the crutch handles and the other on the surface you're sitting on. Take care not to put more weight on your affected leg than you're allowed to.
  3. Once you've stood up and you have your balance, place your arms through both crutches, ready to walk.

photo showing someone sitting with the crutches in a H shape ready to stand up as described in the text

Navigating steps

Photo of a person using crutches to go up steps as described in the text

Photo of a person using crutches to go down steps as described in the text

Good leg – Affected leg – Sticks (GAS)

Sticks – Affected leg – Good leg (SAG)

  1. Place your good leg on the step.
  2. Leaning forward, push through your crutches (sticks) to bring your affected leg up onto the step. Take care not to put more weight on your affected leg than you're allowed to.
  3. Bring your crutches up onto the step.
  1. Place your crutches (sticks) on the step below.
  2. Place your affected leg on the step below. Take care not to put more weight on your affected leg than you're allowed to.
  3. Leaning forward, push through your crutches to bring the good leg down onto the step below.

To return your crutches

When you no longer need your crutches, please return them to one of:

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Written by Medical and Surgical, Physiotherapy, Te Whatu Ora Waitaha. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2023.

Sources

Page reference: 33126

Review key: HILWI-174362