June 07, 2018 3 min read
Walking with crutches can be essential when dealing with pain in the legs or back. Whether recovering from surgery, coping with long term pain in the knees, hips or ankles or if you've been issued crutches to deal with back pain they are often a challenge to get used to.
Using crutches helps to sustain mobility and increase independence by taking the strain off the back and legs and transferring the pressure through the arms and crutches. Usually, this means people are able to move around more, get back to activities they enjoy and feel more confident on their feet.
Most people are given crutches by a health professional and shown how to use them. Others may choose to purchase awalking stick plus knee support combo to help ease their pains and make life easier.
The idea is that they support your usual walking pattern so you can walk further and be more comfortable. They shouldn't make you feel off-balance or uncomfortable. For some individuals, they are a lifeline to being able to do daily tasks and activities.
One of the key parts of using crutches regularly is getting the height correct. If they are too tall, you can end up with your neck and shoulders aching. Too short and you may be stooping and this might cause your back to ache when you are walking over long distances.
Sometimes it's easier if you have a second person to help you with this task as it can be hard to see the right position for yourself.
If we imagine you are starting from a standstill, and have pain in one or both legs or in your back. Place both the crutches out in front of you and lean on them as you step your 'bad' leg forward. As you take your weight forward, and step with your 'good' leg, move the crutches forward again to place them in front of you and get into a rhythm of doing this to maintain your normal walking pattern.
Give yourself time to get used to using crutches!
If you are just using 1 crutch to give you a free hand - use the crutch on the opposite side to your leg pain. If you are using crutches due to your back pain then when walking do what feels most comfortable. If walking for long periods of time with back pain, try to alternate the crutch from side to side so that you are not placing excessive strain on one side.
If you are struggling to use your crutches or are still feeling unsteady or in a lot of pain after a few days of use please refer back to the health professional that issued them.
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