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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Using crutches (non-weight-bearing)

Te whakamahi i ngā rākau hauā

Non-weight-bearing means you aren't allowed to put any weight on your leg. You need to keep the weight off your leg so your bone and tissues can heal properly, and to make sure your bone heals in the correct position.

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 crutch's handle, 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. Keeping your affected leg off the ground, place both crutches forward, a short step length away.
  2. Lean on the crutches to take your weight on your arms and crutches while stepping forward with your good leg. Take care not to put any weight on 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 off the ground, bring your crutches together in front of you. 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. Make sure your affected leg remains off the ground.

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. Take your weight on your good leg, with your affected leg off the ground.
  2. Place your crutches together to form an H shape as shown in the picture.
  3. Use one arm to push down on the crutch handles and the other on the surface you're sitting on.
  4. Once you've stood up and 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, taking care not to put any weight on your affected leg.
  2. Bring your crutches (sticks) up onto the step.
  1. Place your crutches (sticks) on the step below with your affected leg out in front of you.
  2. Slowly lower your good leg down onto the step below.

To return your crutches

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

Wheelchairs and scooters

The hospital doesn't provide mobility aids like wheelchairs or knee scooters for your personal use. If you need one for any reason (short- or long-term) you can hire them from:

Wheelchairs are available in all shopping malls for your use while shopping. Check at the mall's information service desk.

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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: 1176219

Review key: HILWI-174362