HealthSheets™


Discharge Instructions: Using a Walker

Your healthcare provider has prescribed a walker for you. To use your walker, you need to learn a new way to walk (gait). Your healthcare provider may tell you to use a non-weight-bearing gait. This means putting no weight on one leg and foot. Or you may be told to use a weight-bearing gait. This means putting weight on both legs and feet.

Guidelines for use

Here are some general tips: 

  • Remove small rugs, electrical cords, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need handy. Keep everything else out of the way.

  • Use a backpack, fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things so you keep your hands free.

Non-weight-bearing gait

To walk with this method:

  • Hold your injured (weaker) foot off the floor.

  • Lift the walker (roll it if you’re using a wheeled walker).

  • Move the walker one step or a few inches ahead of you.

  • Support your weight with your hands by gripping the top of the walker.

  • Swing your good (stronger) foot forward to the center or middle of the walker.

  • Repeat the process.

Woman standing with knee bent to raise injured foot behind her, holding on to walker grips with walker moved a few inches in front of her. Her uninjured foot is flat on ground just behind walker legs, ready to swing forward using non-weight bearing technique.Woman standing with knee bent to raise injured foot behind her, holding on to walker grips. Her uninjured foot is just inside walker legs, ready to move walker forward for a step using non-weight bearing technique.

Weight-bearing gait

To walk with this method:

  • Lift the walker (roll it if you're using a wheeled walker).

  • Move the walker one step or a few inches ahead of you.

  • Support your weight with your hands by gripping the top of the walker.

  • Step forward to the center or middle of the walker with your injured leg, new joint, or weaker side first. When taking a step, don't step all the way to the front of the walker.

  • Use the walker to help you keep your balance as you take the step.

  • Bring your other foot forward to the center of the walker.

  • Repeat the process.

Man positioning walker ahead of feet, preparing to take step using the weight bearing technique.Man stepping into walker with injured foot, using the weight bearing technique.

Man with both feet positioned in walker, preparing to move the walker forward for another step using the weight bearing technique.

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