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Using Crutches: Non-Weight-Bearing

A healthy leg can bear your body weight. But when you have an injured leg or foot, you need to keep weight off it. The “swing to” gait is easy to learn and takes less arm strength and balance. The “swing through” gait takes more practice, but it moves you farther with each step and is less tiring in the long run. Start with “swing to,” and progress to “swing through” when instructed.

Balanced Standing (Tripod) Position

Use this position when you start or end a movement. Also, use it whenever you’re standing for any length of time. Move your crutches in front of you about 12 inches. Hold the affected foot off the floor. Find your balance. Be sure not to rest your armpits on the pads.

Walking with Crutches

Image of man on crutches

Swing To

  • Start in a balanced standing (tripod) position.

  • Squeeze the pads against the sides of your chest.

  • The tips should be wide enough apart for you to move easily between them.

  • Support your weight on your hands.

  • Press down on the handgrips.

  • Lift your unaffected foot and swing your body up to the crutches.

  • Land on your unaffected foot, between your crutches.

  • Keep the unaffected knee slightly bent.

  • Reach forward and out with the crutches to begin the next step.

Image of man on crutches

Swing Through

  • Start in a balanced standing (tripod) position.

  • Squeeze the pads against the sides of your chest.

  • The tips should be wide enough apart for you to move easily between them.

  • Support your weight on your hands.

  • Press down on the handgrips.

  • Lift your unaffected foot and swing your body through the crutches.

  • Land on your unaffected foot, about 12 inches in front of the crutches.

  • Keep the unaffected knee slightly bent.

  • Reach forward and out with the crutches to begin the next step.

 

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