How to Use Crutches


Correct crutch balance

  • Stand up straight with crutches placed slightly forward and out to the side.
  • Do not lean on the underarm supports
  • Always support your weight using the handgrips of the crutches. Too much pressure under your arms could irritate the sensitive nerves in the underarm area.
Weight bearing

Relying on your injured leg to carry too much of your body weight could reinjure your leg. To reduce this chance, we recommend the following weight-bearing limit on your leg:

  • ___ No weight bearing allowed.
  • ___ Toe touch for balance only.
  • ___ Partial weight bearing:___percent allowed.
  • ___ Weight bearing as tolerated.
  • ___ Full weight bearing. No restrictions.


  1. Establish balance.
  2. Move both crutches forward.
  3. Step forward with injured leg.
  4. Push down forcefully and equally on the handgrips. Step through the crutches with your good leg. Keep in mind any weight-bearing limits.
  5. Regain your balance.
  6. Repeat.
Alternate walking method
  1. Establish balance.
  2. Move both crutches and your injured leg forward at the same time.
  3. Push down equally on the handgrips and step through with your good leg. Keep in mind any weight-bearing limits.
  4. Regain your balance.
  5. Repeat.


Going UP stairs
  1. Stand about a shoe length away from the bottom step and face the stairs.
  2. Step up with the good leg. Regain your balance.
  3. Move injured leg onto the step, then the crutches.
  4. Repeat for each stair.
Going DOWN stairs
  1. Stand at the top of the stairs, facing the steps. Move both feet to the edge of the step.
  2. Place the crutches on the next step down and put your weight on the handgrips.
  3. Step down with your injured leg and regain your balance.
  4. Step down with your good leg.
  5. Repeat for each stair.
Alternative method

A handrail can be used to go up and down the stairs. Place both crutches together and hold them under one arm. Grab the handrail with the other hand and follow the same sequence as described above.


From sitting to standing
  1. Scoot forward to the edge of your seat.
  2. Place both crutches in the hand opposite the injured leg.
  3. With one hand on the crutch handgrip and the other on the armrest of the chair, push up to the standing position. REMEMBER your weight bearing limit!
  4. Regain your balance. Then move one crutch to the other side so that crutches are now under both arms.
From standing to sitting
  1. Back up to the chair until you feel the edge of the chair behind your legs.
  2. Remove crutches from under your arms.
  3. Place both crutches in one hand.
  4. Reach back with your free hand for the arm of the chair and slowly lower yourself onto the chair.

To prevent falls

  • Be sure your crutches are in good condition. The crutches should have grooved rubber tips covering the bottom of each crutch. Make sure the underarm supports and handle pads are in good condition.
  • Wear low-heeled, tie shoes for better support.
  • Avoid throw rugs and waxed floors.
  • Be careful when walking on wet or slippery surfaces.
  • Check the bottom of the crutches and remove gravel from the grooves after you have walked outside.
  • If your crutch gets damaged, discard it and replace it with a new crutch.

REMEMBER: Do not lean on the underarm supports. Support your weight using the handgrips of the crutches.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/03/2019.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy