A pair of crutches is an assistive device that can be used after foot, knee, or hip injuries that may or may not require surgery. Most crutches are easily adjustable and come in different sizes depending on your height.
Markings can usually be found at the crutches’ leg extension part. You can use these markings as a reference to adjust it to the correct height. If the fit is still not right, follow these steps on how to adjust crutches the correct way.
How Do You Adjust Crutches?
Before learning the steps for adjusting crutches, you must understand these two things:
- Crutches that are too high will cause compression under your arm. This can be possibly harmful to the arteries, veins, and nerves that are located there. Aside from the potential damage, high crutches are very uncomfortable to use.
- Crutches that are too low could strain your knees and your back. Remember that you are using crutches to assist your movement while you recover from an injury.
Follow these Steps on How to Adjust Crutches Properly.
Adjust the Length
The first step you need to do is to adjust the length of the crutches to your height. When holding the crutches, the top part should not touch your armpits. Use the width of two fingers to measure the space between your armpit to the top of the crutch. By doing this, you will avoid putting too much pressure on your arms that can damage the nerves there.
To properly adjust the length, follow these steps:
- Press on the spring button that is located at the lower part of the crutch. Pressing this button on both ends will allow you to either shorten or lengthen the crutch.
- Simultaneously pull or push on the crutch leg extension. Do this one at a time until you get the correct height for you.
Adjust the Hand Grip
The second step on how to adjust crutches is to check the handgrip. Place the crutches in the position that you will use them and let your arms dangle. The handgrip should be meeting your wrist. This will ensure that your elbows will be slightly bent when using them.
Your hands will support the weight of your body while using the crutch. If the arm grip is too high or too low, do the following:
- Unscrew the metal knob that connects the grip to the crutch
- Take out the long metal bar that is holding the grip in place.
- Move the grip higher or lower on the crutch, depending on the correct position that it must be in.
- Return the long metal bar.
- Screw the knob back on. Do not screw it too tightly so you won’t have a problem adjusting it again if needed.
This foolproof guide on how to adjust crutches will greatly help you on your road to recovery. If you will be using crutches over a longer period, getting them to the correct height will make them more comfortable to use. Learn more about crutches here!
Underarm (axilla) crutches are commonly used following an acute, short-term injury and may be recommended for those who are only able to bear weight on one leg.
Forearm (or elbow) crutches may not be quite as stable with a full load and are commonly recommended in situations of long-term use for those who can bear weight on both legs, but who require the additional support.
Incorrectly fitted crutches or poor posture can cause a disorder called crutch palsy in which the nerves under the arm are temporarily or permanently damaged, causing weakened hand, wrist and forearm muscles. Correct measurements can minimize complications and promote safe use of the crutches. To ensure correct measurements, it is easier if someone else measures you.
Adjusting the height/length:
Underarm Crutch Measurements & Set-up:
- Place the person’s regular walking shoes on and assist them to a standing position.
- Place the top axilla pad approximately 5cm (2–3 finger widths) under the armpit and extend the crutch to a point on the ground approximately 15cm out from the side of the foot.
- In this position the handgrip should then be adjusted to sit approximately at the height of the wrist crease. This should allow for around 15–30 degrees of bend at the elbow.
- Check the final fit of the crutches. The top of each crutch should be about two finger widths from the underarm and his wrists should be even with the hand grips when the user’s arms hang at their side.
Forearm: For forearm or elbow crutches, measure the handle height as with underarm crutches. To set the height of the forearm cuff, measure from a clenched fist to 2.5cm below the elbow crease. The forearm cuff should not impede upon elbow movement but should stop the crutch from slipping off the arm.
Forearm Crutch Measurements & Set-up
- Place the person’s regular walking shoes on and assist them to a standing position.
- Instruct them to flex their elbow so the crease of his wrist is level with his hip joint.
- Measure the forearm from 3 inches below the elbow and then add the distance between the wrist and floor.
- Measure around the largest part of the forearm for the cuff size.
- Select a pair of crutches based on the person’s measurements. Adjust the length of the crutches up or down to match the measurements.
How to use crutches:
When using crutches, weight should be taken through the hands via the hand pads. For underarm (or “axilla”) crutches, the top pad of the crutch should be pressed against the side of the chest wall (approximately 5cm under the armpit). It is important that the crutches are not positioned high against the armpit as this can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels located close to the skin and can also affect posture, balance and stability. Crutches should be positioned slightly to the side and forward of the body for a stable base of support.
- Some weight bearing: There are many different ways to use crutches depending on balance and the ability to place weight on one or both legs. If the affected leg can hold some body weight, then it is recommended that the crutches and the affected leg be placed forward together approximately one step length (sharing the load between them) followed by the unaffected leg. As per below:
Four point walking pattern: Another option is to use a four point walking pattern, which is slower but may assist with safety for general weakness.
This involves putting one crutch forward, then the opposite leg, and then the next crutch forward, followed by the final leg and continue with this pattern.
If you have sustained an injury to your lower limb you may have been issued with crutches. Please watch the video and read the advice below for a step by step guide on how to check the height of your crutches and how to use them.
Check your crutches
Rest your arm by your side. Hold your crutch next to your arm – you may need to ask someone to help.
The handle of the crutch should be in line with your wrist.
To adjust the crutch, push the pins in and slide the crutch to the correct height.
Check the feral (rubber stopper) at the bottom of the crutch.It should look like the picture.
If the rings are worn away, it needs replacing. You can contact our team to arrange this.
If your crutches are damaged in any way, contact our team.
Using your crutches
Hold both crutches in one hand in a ‘H’ shape, place your other hand on the arm of the chair.
Push up from the chair to stand up. Once standing, put your hands into the crutches ready to walk.
Place the crutches in front of you to maintain your balance.
Take both your arms out of the crutches before sitting down.
Place both crutches in one hand in a ‘H’ shape.
Feel for the arm of the chair with the other hand. Sit down gently.
To walk – if you are allowed to put weight through your injured leg:
Place both crutches forwards in front of you, just wider than hip width apart.
Step your injured foot forwards between the crutches.
Take the weight through your arms and leg to step forwards with your good leg.
Put both crutches forwards and repeat.
To walk – if you are NOT allowed to put weight through your injured leg:
Put both crutches forwards in front of you, just wider than hip width apart.
Keep the injured leg off the ground.
Take your weight onto your hands.
Hop forwards on your good leg to land between the crutches.
When you no longer need your crutches they can be returned to the Fracture Clinic or A&E.
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with subspecialty training in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery.
Erin Pereira, PT, DPT, is a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy.
When you break your leg or injure your knee, you can end up coming home with a pair of crutches. If you’ve never used crutches before, you need to know some key tricks to using them correctly. Many people don’t get the right instruction before attempting to use them.
Using crutches requires good upper-body strength and flexibility. It also requires the injury to be isolated to a single leg; patients with an injured arm or two injured legs will usually need another type of support.
Crutches may seem simple if you've never had to use them, but a lot goes into safe and proper use.
Size the Crutches
Your crutches should be properly sized so you can use them appropriately and don’t have problems.
You shouldn't assume the crutches you have at home are the right ones for you: they may need adjusting, or you may need a pair of a different size.
Crutches should hit about one to two inches below the armpit when you're standing straight and have the handles at wrist height, so that your elbows are slightly bent when you grasp them.
Check the Padding and Grips
Check the crutches to ensure they have ample cushion on the armpit, grips, and especially on the base that contacts the floor.
These parts of crutches can be replaced at a medical supply store if they become worn. You will soon feel the pain if they don't have enough padding.
To Get Up From a Chair
To stand up from a seated position:
- Place both crutches in the hand on the affected side (i.e., if your right leg is hurt, hold them in your right hand).
- With your other hand, grasp the armrest of your chair.
- Place your weight on your uninjured leg and push up with your arms.
Walking With Crutches
To walk with crutches:
- Move both crutches together a short distance in front of you (about 18 inches). Always take short steps when on crutches.
- While supporting yourself with your hands, allow your body to swing forward as if you were going to step on the injured leg.
- Instead of placing weight on the injured leg, rest your weight on the crutch handles.
- Do not allow the crutch top to touch your armpit; keep your body supported with your hands.
There are some things that you should also keep in mind. For instance, your crutches take up more room on the sides and can easily get caught on things, so keep a wide area around you. In addition, consider these tips on crutch form to prevent other injuries from occurring:
- Look ahead to where you are walking and don't look at your feet.
- Take short steps and rest often.
- Keep the top of the crutches tightly against your sides and use your hands to absorb the weight.
Going Up Stairs
When going up and down stairs, go one step at a time, and rest at each step.
You have a couple of options for using crutches on the stairs. You can:
- Stand close to the step and place the crutches on ground level.
- With your weight on the crutches, bring the uninjured foot up to the step.
- Then bring the crutches up to the step level.
- Repeat this for each step.
If there's a handrail, you can use this alternative method:
- Hold both crutches under one arm.
- Grab the handrail with the other hand.
- Lead with the uninjured leg.
Going Down Stairs
How you go down the stairs on crutches depends on whether you can or can't bear some weight on your injured leg.
If you're not putting weight on it:
- Hold the foot of the injured leg up in front.
- Hop down each step on your good leg.
- Be sure to support yourself with the crutches held in front of you on the next lower step or use the handrail on one side while holding the crutches in the other hand.
- It may be smart to have someone assist you at first, especially if you don't have good upper-body strength.
If your healthcare provider says you can briefly bear weight on the injured leg:
- Place the crutches on the next lower step.
- Step down with the injured leg.
- Then quickly bring down the good leg.
- Take it one step at a time.
Warning: Armpit Danger
It’s important that you don’t let your armpits rest on the crutches, even when you’re resting. Allowing your weight to rest on your armpits can cause serious damage to the nerves and muscles of your underarms.
If you’ve had a leg injury that requires you to walk on crutches for an extended period of time, it’s imperative that those crutches be fitted properly. According to the University of Illinois, improper fit and use of crutches can cause a radial nerve injury in the arm, which may incur permanent damage and loss of arm use. If your crutches haven’t been fitted properly by your doctor or they no longer fit due to bulky winter clothing you may want to check and make sure they’re adjusted properly.
Look at the bottom of the crutch. You will see a scale that shows the proper adjustment for your height.
Locate the metal buttons on each side near the bottom of the crutch and push them in.
Push the crutch foot piece up or down to match the proper height and then release the metal buttons.
Check that the metal buttons are secure in the crutch holes and the foot piece is securely in place.
Place the crutch under your arm. If the height is proper, the arm rest will be one to one and a half inches below your underarm; if it is too high or low readjust the foot piece as previously described.
Bend your elbow slightly and wrap your hand around the crutch hand grip. It should rest comfortably. If it is uncomfortable, you may need to adjust the height of the hand grip.
Loosen the wing nut that secures the hand grip and slide out the corresponding screw.
Move the hand grip up or down to a more comfortable level.
Replace the screw and tighten the wing nut. Your crutches are now the proper height and ready to use.
Check the wing nuts on your crutches every day to be sure they are tight and secure.
28 Feb How to Stop Crutches from Hurting Your Armpits in 4 Easy Ways
Crutch pain and discomfort is pretty common, but there are ways to make your time on crutches more bearable. Here are four easy tips to stop crutches from hurting your armpits.
1. Consider Other Options
If crutches are too painful for you and are hurting your armpits, there are other options you can consider that will aid your mobility and keep you pain-free. Forearm crutches put the majority of your weight on your forearms and hands—keeping your armpits from getting sore—and knee scooters make it a little easier to get around by placing weight on your knee.
However, these methods still make it very difficult to carry things and have full mobility. Products like the iWALK2.0 allow for hands-free mobility and don’t place any pressure on your armpits.
2. Adjust Your Crutches
To correctly adjust your crutches, stand upright in your regular shoes, then place the crutches under your arm with the bottom of the crutch a few inches in front of your foot. In this position, the top of the crutches should be approximately one to two inches below your armpit. There should also be a slight bend in your elbows when your hand is on the grip so you can move around comfortably.
Adjusting your crutches is often the first step in learning how to stop crutches from hurting your armpits. If your crutches aren’t properly fitted, they will cause additional pain.
3. Use Crutches Properly
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t actually rest your armpits on your crutches. This puts weight on your axillary nerve. Compressing the nerve and putting pressure on it for a long period of time can cause permanent nerve damage. Even if you only use your crutches for a short period of time, you may still experience numbness, tingling, or crutch-palsy (temporary paralysis) in your arms if you use them incorrectly.
One of the best ways to stop crutches from hurting your armpits is to stop resting your armpits on your crutches. When walking with crutches, your hands should take most of the weight. Keep your elbows bent slightly and keep your arm straight from your elbow to your wrist. Don’t bend your wrists or you may hurt them as well. Holding your crutches properly can prevent pain and nerve damage in the long run.
4. Add Padding
When it comes right down to it, a great tip on how to stop crutches from hurting your armpits is to add some simple padding.
It’s no secret that crutches could use some extra padding, and there are even commercial crutch pads you can purchase just for this purpose. In reality, you don’t need an expensive crutch pad to make life with crutches more bearable—an old towel or blanket and some duct tape will do just fine.
Roll the piece of towel or blanket around the top of your crutches and secure it with some duct tape or packing tape. Make sure it’s securely in place so it doesn’t move around. Padding that constantly shifts will be uncomfortable and make it more difficult to use your crutches.
Because the majority of your weight should be on your hands, you may also discover that your palms are getting sore. A great way to increase your overall comfort is to also pad the grip area and make it more comfortable. Make sure that any padding on your grip is securely taped in place so your hands don’t shift on the grip.
Getting around on crutches is difficult, but you can learn how to stop crutches from hurting your armpits by following these steps.
Eliminate crutch pain by using your crutches correctly and consider using alternative ambulatory aids like the iWALK2.0 that don’t put pressure on your armpits and offer more mobility and freedom.
There are many aspects of crutches that you need to master before you can walk comfortably.
Adjusting the height, choosing the perfect crutch for you, and holding crutches properly for good body posture are necessary skills relevant to using crutches.
Learning how to use crutches properly depends on getting skilled at those skills.
How To Choose The Right Crutches?
- It would be best to choose the most suitable crutch for you based on your height and comfort.
- If there is good quality padding on top of the crutches and handles and at the bottom tip, it will provide ease and comfort.
- Crutches need to be made from durable material.
- The crutches need to have an excellent gripping ability.
- The tip of the crutch shouldn’t slide too much while in contact with the ground surface.
See also: Best Crutches of 2021.
How To Adjust Crutches Height?
- Adjustment of the crutch height is made while standing.
- Keep your crutch about 10 cm from the side of your toes for a great fit.
- At the top, leave a 2 to 3 finger gap between the crutch and your armpit.
- Adjust your crutch height accordingly, keeping good body posture and comfortable feelings by keeping the previous measurements as such.
How To Hold Crutches Properly?
- When your arm is straight down, the handle should be at the level of your wrist.
- Your elbow will be slightly bent while clutching the crutch handle.
- The angle provided by the crutches should be sufficient enough for free and comfortable walking without any contact between your hips and the crutches.
- It is always better not to lean on the crutches and stand and walk straight.
How To Walk With Crutches?
- Your physician will suggest to you how much weight you can bear on your wounded leg.
- Depending on your condition, you might face three different scenarios.
- For non-weight bearing, you can’t put any weight on your injured limb.
- You must move your wounded legs with your body while moving to maintain balance.
- Also, secure crutches by pressing the top of the crutch to your ribcage.
- Move the bottom tips of the crutches forward as if you were taking a normal-sized step.
How To Sit Down With Crutches?
- If you want to sit, you should first stand in front of the chair with your back leg touching the seat.
- Then, using one hand, hold both crutches and grasp the handles.
- With your other hand, grasp for the chair’s armrest.
- While sitting down, bend your good leg slowly.
- If no weight is permitted, elevate your wounded leg off the ground.
How To Stand Up With Crutches?
- When you want to get out of your chair, first slide yourself to the front.
- Then, take both crutches and hold them in one hand.
- By using your free hand, push yourself off the armrest while standing on your uninjured leg.
- After standing straight and regaining balance, you should set up the crutches properly under your arms, and then you walk correctly.
How To Go Up Stairs With Crutches?
How to use crutches on stairs with railing?
- Starting from the bottom stair step, take the crutches in one hand and grab the railing firmly with the other.
- Considering the non-weight bearing case, you must keep your injured leg elevated.
- Putting weight through hands, hop on the step with your uninjured leg.
- Simultaneously, bring the crutch up to the same step and move your hand forward on the railing. Repeat the process.
How to go up stairs on crutches without railing?
- Considering no railing is present, keep both the crutches under your arms.
- Move forward with your uninjured leg and put all weight through the hands.
- Bring the crutches to the same step as you and regain balance.
How To Go Down Stairs With Crutches?
How to use crutches on stairs with railing?
- While moving down the stairs, start from the top step with both crutches in one hand. Grab the railing with another.
- Then, set your crutch on the next step down while placing all of your weight through your hands and bending your good knee.
- Step down the stairs using the uninjured leg.
- Remember to regain your balance before repeating the motion, always leading with the crutch.
How to go down stairs on crutches without railing?
- Considering no railing, take crutches under the arms.
- Put the tip of crutches on the step below firstly.
- Start walking with your good leg, keeping balance.
It would be great to have a friend or family member nearby at this moment.
Along with some tips and a bit of regular practice, you can quickly learn the usage of the crutches with optimum safety.
Hopefully, here we already provided you with crucial knowledge about different aspects of using crutches.
Learning the techniques behind how to use crutches correctly in other circumstances will help anyone who is facing the situation.
People who need quick recovery can always use crutches to boost their recovery process. This is especially true in case you have a broken limb or after surgery. Crutches will help you to move around and prevent any form of strain on the injured area.
The good thing here is you aren’t tied to just one model of crutches. There are several types of crutches that you can choose from.
Even so, while the most important thing is to choose the right types of crutches for walking, it is also vital to remain comfortable on your crutches. In this post, I will show you how to make your crutches more comfortable anytime.
Add Some Padding
One of the easiest ways to make your crutches more comfortable is to add some padding around the crutches. The best place to add the padding’s is around the handles and on the top section of the crutches.
There are additional commercial padding’s that you can buy and fit. These ones are easy to fit on the crutches and will save time. You can also use a piece of cloth and roll it around the top of the crutches too.
With the right padding, crutches will seize to hurt your armpits. They won’t leave you with blisters, scratches, and swollen armpits as the padding provide a soft landing zone.
Understand Proper Use of Crutches
Most people believe that you should rest your armpits on the top of your crutches as you move. This is not right. If you do that, it puts your weight on the axillary nerve – nerves under your armpits.
In turn, it compresses the nerve and eventually triggers permanent nerve damage. When this happens, you will be left with so much pain spasms. In addition to that, you will also find it very uncomfortable to use the crutches. This is because the damage siphons the strength from your hands.
If you feel numbness and tingling around your armpits, you should know that you are using the crutches incorrectly. Simply stop resting the armpits on top of your crutches as you walk and instead suspend your weight with your arms.
Properly Adjust the Crutches
If you have crutches that you can adjust, then you can get the perfect fit size. This size of crutches will prevent you from straining and in turn, allow you to move around easily.
How to Adjust Crutches
- Stand on an upright position – you can wear your regular shoes
- Take the crutches and place them under your arms
- Keep the bottom of your crutches a few inches from your foot and in the front
- Then adjust then fix the crutches on that same adjustment
NOTE: Keeping the bottom of the crutches a few inches from your feet ensures that the top of your crutches sits approximately two inches below the armpit. It also allows for a slight bend in your elbows as you grab on the crutches so you can move easily. To find more exclusive content how to walk with a cane.
Choose Your Crutches Correctly
There are two types of crutches. We have the forearm crutches vs underarm crutches. How these crutches are used is different. The forearm crutches will prevent any weight around your body.
Forearm crutches will give your arms the weight-bearing job and prevent you from getting hurt. You can learn how to use forearm crutches as a way of getting comfortable.
Follow User Manual/Instructions
Crutches will come with user manuals. The manuals are there for a reason. They will show you how to use the crutches in the right way, how to adjust the crutches, and how to maintain and care for your crutches.
Make sure that you read every word on your user manual. It will help you also in assembling the crutches. With instructions, you can also learn how to walk on crutches in no time.
There are several things that you must look at if you want your crutches to be comfortable. From personal experience, you must know your height, strength, needs, and, more importantly, understand the type of injury that you have.
With the right understanding, you will find it easy to choose the best crutches for your use. In addition to that, you must take time to learn how to walk on crutches so that you don’t strain at all.
In case you strain, you might aggravate the injury, and this is dangerous. Learning how to use crutches properly is easy but needs a lot of patience too.
If you're experiencing tiredness from using your crutches, there are a few things you can do to make sure you're using your crutches optimally. If you're wondering how to use crutches without pain, the following tips should come in hand as well.
Here are some things to keep an eye on:
- • Have the right pair of crutches .
- • Adjust your crutches correctly .
- • Walk properly with crutches .
- • Consider a crutch alternative .
Get the Right Pair of Crutches
First, you must have the correct crutch pair size. There are three sizes: youth, adult, and tall adult .
Using the wrong crutch size will not allow you to adjust its size correctly.
Once you've made sure you have the correct crutch pair, it's time to adjust them to fit your size .
Proper Crutch Adjustment
Using crutches that are not properly adjusted to you is one of the main reasons for discomfort.
If the crutches are set too high , it can put significant strain on your armpits. Crutches that are set too low can cause you to hunch over and hurt your back.
The key rule is to have about a two-inch space between the top of the crutch and your armpit while you stand straight.
Then, the crutch handles need to be leveled with your wrists .
Finally, while standing straight and holding onto the handles, your elbows should be bent very slightly .
Learn how to adjust your crutches:
Walking with Crutches Properly
Using your crutches properly is key to minimizing pain and discomfort, and also avoiding tripping or falling.
So how do you walk with crutches properly?
Depending on which stage of weight-bearing you are, you'll have to do a different walking procedure.
Typical weight-bearing stages include:
|• non-weight bearing (absolutely no weight put on your injured foot)
• toe-touch weight-bearing (you can touch your toe on the ground)
• partial weight-bearing (enough weight you feel comfortable at)
Check out this video on the different ways to walk with crutches according to your weight-bearing stage:
- • When using crutches, make sure they point outwards a little. You don't want the crutches to be at a total 90-degree angle. Having them outwards will provide you with more stability.
- • You should never press the top of your crutches to your armpits. All the support should be on your arms, not your armpits.
- • There are arteries and nerves in your armpits that can be damaged.
- • There should be about two inches of space between your crutch pad and your armpit.
Consider a Crutch Alternative
If you tried all the above and you're still unhappy with your crutches, you should consider some popular crutch alternative like an iWalk or a knee scooter .
Crutches are the most recommended mobility option because they can be inexpensive and very widely available. But.
Knee scooters are the most popular alternative to crutches.
A knee scooter allows you to keep non-weight bearing by resting your injured leg on a knee pad, then you roll and steer towards the direction you want to go.
It's the most effortless mobility device you'll ever use. And the best thing about them is you can “park” it and have both your hands free to do whatever you need to do. This is something you cannot do at all with crutches.
If you have a below-the-knee injury and want to get around faster and independently, you should consider getting a knee scooter.
How do you make crutches easier?
Many people who use crutches express frustration on how physically demanding and uncomfortable crutches are to use.