Learning About How to Use a Walker

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Overview

Using a walker can help you move with less pain and more stability. A walker can help you be more independent and safe as you do your daily activities.

Be sure your walker fits you. When you stand up in your normal posture and relax your arms at your sides, the walker's hand grips should be level with your wrists. Then, when you rest your hands on the hand grips, your elbows should be slightly bent.

To stay safe when using a walker:

  • Look straight ahead, not down at your feet.
  • Clear away small rugs, cords, or anything else that could cause you to trip, slip, or fall.
  • Be very careful around pets and small children. They can get in your path when you least expect it.
  • Be sure the rubber tips on your walker are clean and in good condition to help prevent slipping.
  • Avoid slick conditions, such as wet floors and snowy or icy driveways. In bad weather, be especially careful on curbs and steps.

How to use a walker

Put the walker in the correct position before you start to walk.

slide 1 of 4
slide 1 of 4, Put the walker in the correct position before you start to walk.,
  1. Set the walker at arm's length in front of you, with all four legs on the floor.

  2. If your walker has wheels on the front legs, push the walker forward so it's at arm's length in front of you.

Use this pattern for walking.

slide 2 of 4
slide 2 of 4, Use this pattern for walking.,
  1. Use the handles of the walker for balance as you move your weak or injured leg forward to the middle area of the walker. Don't step all the way to the front.

  2. Push straight down on the handles of the walker as you bring your strong leg up, so it's even with your injured leg.

  3. Repeat.

Use this pattern to go up and down a curb.

slide 3 of 4
slide 3 of 4, Use this pattern to go up and down a curb.,

The first few times you try this, have another person nearby to steady you if needed.

  1. Stand as close to the edge as you can while keeping all four legs of the walker on the surface you're standing on.

  2. When you have your balance, move the walker up or down to the surface you are moving to.

  3. Push straight down on the handles for balance and to take weight off your injured leg.

  4. If you are going up, step up with your stronger leg first, and then bring your weaker or injured leg up to meet it. If you are going down, step down with your weaker leg first, and then bring your stronger leg down to meet it. (Remember "up with the good, and down with the bad" to help you lead with the correct leg.)

  5. Get your balance again before you start to walk.

Use your body to sit down and stand up from a chair.

slide 4 of 4
slide 4 of 4, Use your body to sit down and stand up from a chair.,

Don't use your walker to help you sit down or stand up.

  1. To sit, back up to the chair. Touch the back of your legs to the chair.

  2. Support most of your weight on your strong leg, and reach back for the arms of the chair.

  3. Slowly and carefully lower yourself into the chair.

  4. To get out of a chair, use both hands and push against the arms of your chair. Then put both hands on your walker.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter M137 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About How to Use a Walker".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.