How to use canes, crutches and walkers after surgery

After surgery, you will likely need to use equipment to help your recovery or an assistive device to help you move. This 12-minute video shows how to safely walk, use stairs and stand with a cane, crutch or walker.

[MUSIC PLAYING] Your physician has recommended you make use of a cane. There are guidelines and tips for walking and using stairs safely with a cane. The first thing you'll need to do is make sure the cane is adjusted for the proper fit.

We're going to place the cane on the opposite side from the involved leg. We want the handle of the cane to come to about wrist high when your arm is hanging at your side and you're standing straight and tall.

When walking with a cane, it's important to remember to place the cane on the opposite side from your involved leg. Now move the cane forward, and then your sore foot equal to the cane, and step all the way through with your good foot. Cane, then sore foot, then good foot. And as you get more comfortable, you can actually move the cane and the sore foot together.

When using stairs with a cane, it's safest when there is a railing or someone available to help you. In any case, remember this phrase when using stairs with a cane. "Up with the good, down with the bad."

When coming down the stairs with a cane, if there's a railing available, you should take it with one hand. And then place your came down one step, move your sore foot down, and step down with your good foot. Cane, sore foot, good foot. Cane, sore foot, good foot.

Simply put the cane down one step, then your sore foot, and finally bring the good foot down. Cane, sore foot, good foot. Cane, sore foot, good foot.

When going up the stairs with a cane and no railing is available, again, remember to put the cane on the opposite side from your involved leg. Now step up with the good foot, then bring the cane and the sore foot along after. Up with the good foot, then the cane and the sore foot. Up with the good foot, then the cane and the sore foot.

When going up the stairs with a cane, if a railing is available, we recommend you use it. You simply step forward with the good foot. Now stand up, and bring the sore foot and the cane along after. Up with the good foot, then the cane and sore foot. Up with the good foot, then the cane and sore foot.

If you have questions or concerns, view this video again, or ask a member of your health care team. If your physician has recommended that you use crutches to get around, it's important that you know how to use them safely. There's more to it than many people realize.

The crutches may need to be adjusted to fit you. One size doesn't fit all when it comes to crutches.

We're going to place one crutch under the arm. And with the crutch tip about six inches out to the side and about six inches forward, we still want to see two or three fingers with gap between the top of the axillary pad and your armpit. The next thing we want to look at then is the handgrip. We would like it to fall right about where your wrist is if your arm is hanging at your side.

So this crutch is fit about right for her. Now, when you're ready to stand up and use your crutches, it's easiest if someone is there to assist you. You can have them hold the crutches while you use both arms to push up from the chair and stand up. And then you just hand the crutches to the patient, and they're ready to walk.

When you're ready to sit down, if you can hand them back, you've now got both hands free. You can grab the chair and sit.

Now, if someone is not available to assist you, hold the crutches in the hand that's on the same side as your sore foot. Then I want you to reach and grab the chair with the other hand, and come to a standing position. Now you can reach across, grab a crutch, bring it under your arm, turn the other crutch in, and you're ready to walk.

When it's time to sit down, you need to reverse that process, turning one crutch out, reaching the other across. Now one hand is free to reach back, grab the chair, and sit.

In order to walk safely with crutches, you need to know your weight-bearing status. This refers to the amount of body weight you can safely place on your affected leg or foot. Your weight-bearing status will be one of the following. Weight bearing as tolerated, partial weight bearing, toe touch, or non-weight bearing.

When walking with your crutches both the weight bearing is tolerated and partial weight bearing types of walks look the same. You're going to put both crutches forward just the amount you're comfortable putting your sore foot forward. Put your foot on the ground, and step all the way through with your good foot. Crutches, sore foot, good foot. Crutches, sore foot, good foot.

Now, with the toe touch weight bearing type of walk, we're going to move both crutches forward just the amount we're comfortable moving the sore foot forward. Place the ball of your foot between the crutches, lock your elbows, stay tall, and step through with your good foot. Crutches, sore foot, good foot. Crutches, sore foot, good foot.

Now, with the non-weight bearing type of walk, we're going to need to get the sore foot completely off the ground. We can either bend the knee and put the foot behind us, or we can straighten the knee and put the foot in front of us. You're going to want to move both crutches forward to get better balance.

And if you lock your elbows and stay tall, we want you to swing your good foot all the way past the crutches. It's important to remember to keep the weight on your hands and not on your armpits.

Stairs can be tricky when using crutches. It's safest when there's a railing and someone available to help you. In any case, remember this phrase when using stairs with crutches. "Up with the good, down with the bad."

Walk to the base of the stairs, and stand close to the railing if one is available. If there's no one available to help you, place the second crutch in a cross pattern so you can hold both crutches easily with one hand.

Now we're going to put all the weight on our two hands, and step up with our good foot. And then bring the crutch and the sore foot along after. Up with the good foot, then the crutch and the sore foot.

When coming down the stairs and a railing is available, we recommend you use it. So move close to the railing, and move the crutch to the opposite side, as we did before. Now move the crutch one step down, put your sore foot down, shift your weight forward, and then bring your good foot down. Crutch first, then sore foot, then the good foot. Crutch, sore foot, good foot.

When there's not a railing available and you need to do stairs, you're going to keep the crutches under both arms. Now you're going to put all the weight on your two hands, step up with your good foot, stand up on the good foot, and bring the crutches and the sore foot along after. Up with a good foot, then the crutches and sore foot. Up with the good foot, then the crutches and sore foot.

When coming down the stairs and there's no railing available, we're going to move both crutches down one stair, then the sore foot, and shift your weight forward, and bring the good foot down. Crutches, sore foot, good foot. Crutches, sore foot, good foot.

If you have questions or concerns, view this video again, or ask a member of your health care team.

Your physician has recommended you use a walker to get around safely. Follow these tips to make using your walker safe and easy.

The first thing we need to look at is the proper fit. If I place the walker in front of you, we'll have you stand up. And what we're looking at is the handgrips. We want them to be about wrist high when your arm is hanging at your side.

When it's time to stand up and use your walker, it's very important that you place both hands on the arm rest of the chair, give a good push, and come to standing before you grab the walker. When you're going to sit, make sure you're backed up to the chair, then reach both hands back, grab the arm rests, and sit carefully.

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Many people like to hang on to the walker as they come to a stand, but this is dangerous as the walker may tip, and you could fall.

Remember, when it's time to stand up and use your walker, it's very important that you place both hands on the arm rest of the chair, and use your arms to push yourself to standing before you grab the walker.

When walking with a walker, both weight bear is tolerated and partial weight bearing walks look the same. You move the walker forward, place all four legs on the ground. Step forward with your software just halfway, and then step the rest of the way with your good foot. Walker, sore foot, good foot. Walker, sore foot, good foot.

When using the walker with toe touch weight bearing, it looks nearly the same. You're going to place the walker forward. Now just place the ball of your foot half the distance, lock your elbows, stay tall, and step through with your good foot. Walker, sore foot, good foot.

With non-weight bearing walking, we're going to lift the sore foot all the way off the ground. Now place the walker forward and get all four legs on the ground. Lock your elbows, stay tall, and swing your good foot forward. Walker and swing up to the bar. Walker and swing up to the bar.

It's difficult to use stairs safely with a walker, so it's not recommended. If you must use stairs with your walker, refer to the print brochure for the safest way to do so.

A walker will work to get up and down a curb or threshold. The safest way to do this going up is to actually turn around. We turn all the way around. Make sure we can feel the curb with our feet. Now place all the weight on our hands and step the good foot up. Now stand up, and bring the walker and the sore foot up.

Coming down, we can go forward. We place the walker on the ground, all four legs, then the sore foot. Finally, the good foot.

If you have questions or concerns, view this video again, or ask a member of your health care team.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Surgery: What You Need to Know, surg-ah-21686
First Published: 01/15/2011
Last Reviewed: 06/15/2015