Kids Health Info


  • Using crutches safely


    Correct fit

    • If you have to use crutches, make sure you stand up straight and are measured from the armpit to the floor. Take 5cm off this and you have the correct crutch length. For example, if the height from your armpit to the floor is 90cm, the crutch should be 85cm high.
    • Adjust the handgrip height so the elbow bends slightly when you are standing relaxed.


    • Ensure wing nuts are tight.
    • Ensure crutch tips (rubber stoppers at the bottom of the crutches) are securely attached and not worn.

    You are now ready to walk on your crutches as you have been shown. Your  physiotherapist or doctor will have told you how much weight you can put on your sore leg.

    • Parents please note - not all young children will be able to use crutches. If your child is not coordinated enough to use crutches, or if you have any doubts, please ensure your child DOES NOT use crutches. Using crutches may cause your child to fall.



    Walking with crutches

    • The top of each crutch should be two to three finger widths, or 5cm, below your armpit. You should lean on your hands, not your armpits. Your elbows should be slightly bent.

    Crutches 02

    • Make sure your are standing up straight and balanced before trying to walk on your crutches. Your feet should be slightly apart. Your crutches need to be out to the side (10-15cm) and slightly in front of your feet.
    • You should grip the crutches firmly to your side by pressing your upper arms against your trunk.
    • Move both crutches out in front of your body. Make sure the crutches are not placed too far in front of your body or too far apart from each other.
    • Balance your weight on your hands and push down onto the crutch handles.
    • Bring your good leg up to or just past the crutches.  This will move you forward.
    • Do not lean your armpits on the crutches.
    • If you are not allowed to bear weight on your sore leg, keep it off the ground.
    • If you are able to take some weight, put your sore leg on the ground and take some weight through it and the rest through your hands.

    Sitting down or standing up with crutches

    • Hold the crutches in one hand, by the crutch handles.
    • Place your sore leg forward.
    • Grip the seat with the other hand.
    • Lean forward, gently bend your good leg and lower yourself onto the seat, or gently straighten your good leg and push yourself up from the seat.


    Going up stairs with crutches

    • Walk right up to the step.
    • Push down through your hands and hop onto the first step with your good leg.
    • Use a handrail if you like, holding both crutches together under the other arm.
    • Straighten your body while bringing your crutches and sore leg up onto the step.

    Going down stairs with crutches

    • Walk right to the edge of the step.
    • Put your crutches and sore leg down onto the step below (don't take weight through your leg if you are not allowed).
    • Make sure your weight is well balanced through your hands, and then pushing down on the crutches lift yourself down, stepping onto your good leg.


    Key points to remember about using crutches

    • Your weight should be on your hands, not on your armpits.
    • Ask your physiotherapist or doctor how much weight you can put on your sore leg.
    • Children should be encouraged to take things slowly and learn how to use crutches properly. It is easy to fall or lose your balance while using crutches.

    For more information

    • Call the emergency department at RCH on Tel: (03) 9345 6186.
    • Ask the practice nurse at your family doctor.
    • Call RCH Physiotherapy Depatment on Tel: (03) 9345 5411.



    First uploaded Jan 2005. Updated by RCH Physiotherapy Dept, and Emergency Medicine January 2011. 

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.