Using crutches isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes practice, coordination, and patience. Whether you’re using crutches for a temporary fix while an injury heals or to help you adjust to a longer-term issue, such as a lower limb amputation, they do take some getting used to. Here are a few key tips to help make the experience as safe and comfortable as possible.
Always size your crutches
This should be your first step. A properly fitted crutch will prevent added stress to your shoulders and arms. If you can, ask your doctor or physical therapist to size them for you. If you need to size them yourself, follow this these general rules:
- When standing upright, the top of your crutches should be two inches below your armpits.
- The handgrips should be even with your hips.
- Your elbows should bend when you use the handgrips.
- Your shoulders should lean forward slightly when you use the crutches.
Make sure you have plenty of padding
You will need sufficient padding on the armpit rests, handgrips, and at the base of your crutches. The padding will help cushion your weight and prevent your body from slipping off the crutches. If any of the padding becomes worn, be sure you replace it. Don’t let it wear down to nothing. And don’t forget the crutch grips! They will help reduce pain and soreness in your hands.
Take breaks as needed
Don’t try to tough it out. Your body is adjusting to a whole new way of moving that requires a lot of upper body strength. Take advantage of the time off of your feet and check to see how your body feels. You don’t need to tackle long distances right away. Let your body adjust slowly.
When going up stairs, always lead with your good leg. Put your weight on the crutches while you lift your good leg up to the next step, then follow with your injured leg and the crutches. When going down, hold the handrail on the side of your good leg (if possible) while keeping both crutches on the side of your injured leg. Again, lead first with your good leg, stepping down and putting all your weight on it before following with your injured leg and crutches. This will be a tedious exercise. So don’t try to rush it.
Keep your crutches within arm’s length when you’re not using them. To move from sitting to standing: Brace both hands on the side of your chair and push up, putting all of your weight on your good leg. Position your crutches underneath your arms and check your stability before moving away from the chair. If the chair rolls, brace one of your hands on a stationary surface, like a desk or table. Try to avoid hopping on your good leg. There’s a good chance you’ll trip and fall and hurt your already-injured leg or worse – your good one.
Invest in a hands-free bag
Try to avoid side purses or across-the-body bags. Choose a bag that will sit comfortably on your back and out of the way of your arms and legs. A standard backpack will work just fine, keeping you balanced and carrying all of your necessities within reach.
Use a temporary stool in the shower
If you use a stand up shower, purchase a small stool to sit on. And while this may not sound ideal, it’s better to sit than to slip.
Remember to eat well
A healthy, nourished body will lead to a quicker recovery. Make sure you get plenty of rest and follow your doctor’s advice for a balanced diet.
Consider an alternative
Conventional crutches are certainly standard for those with non-weight bearing injuries, but they may not be your only option. At PA Healthcare, we carry a couple of alternatives to crutches that you may find more comfortable and easier to use.
- The Steerable Knee Scooter/Roller is ideal for people recovering from foot surgery, sprains, breaks, amputation, and ulcers of the foot. It features tool-free height adjustment, comfortable leg padding, a removable front basket, and a deluxe braking system for added safety.
- The iWalk 2.0 is a hands-free crutch that allows you to keep your leg stable while still performing everyday tasks with both hands! Indicated for those recovering from Achilles tendon rupture, sprained ankle, broken ankle, bunion, jones fracture, metatarsal fractures, broken foot, and all other lower leg, non-weight bearing injuries.
Need help moving around in San Diego? Call us!
At PA Healthcare, we carry a range of mobility devices available for sale or rent. So give us a call or browse our online store today. And don’t forget, we deliver all over San Diego and Imperial Counties!