Crutches - information for safe crutch walking

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

PDF Versions Available

This fact sheet is available to print in the following languages:

Correct fit

  • While standing up straight, you will be measured from your armpit to the floor. To work out the correct length for the crutches, deduct 5cm from this measurement.
  • Adjust the handgrips so there is a slight bend at the elbow when standing in a relaxed manner.



  • Make sure wing nuts are tight.
  • Make sure crutch tips (rubber stoppers) are securely attached and not worn.
  • You are now ready to walk with your crutches as you have been shown. You will have been told how much weight you can put on your sore leg.

Walking with crutches

  • The top of each crutch should be 2-3 finger widths below your armpit. Lean on your hands not your
    armpits; your elbows should be slightly bent.


Copyright VHI 1996

  • You need to be standing up straight and balanced before trying to walk with 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.
  • Grip the crutches firmly to your side by pressing your upper arms against your trunk.
  • Move both crutches out in front of your body.
  • Balance your weight on your hands and push down onto the crutch handle.
  • 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 partial 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. Do not take any weight through your sore leg if you’re not allowed to.

Copyright VHI 1996

Going up stairs

  • Walk right up to the step.
  • Push down through your hands and place your good leg on the first step.
  • Lean on your good leg, and push down through your hands bringing your weight over the step.
  • Bring your sore leg up onto the step.
  • Bring your crutches up onto the step.

Going down stairs

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

Copyright VHI 1996


  • 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 learning to use crutches should be supervised by an adult, until they can use them safely. 
The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Hunter New England Kids Health

For publications recommended by our hospitals' experts, please visit the Kids Health book shop.