The elderly and anyone who’s had surgery after a serious accident has difficulty moving around. The sheer pain and weakness in the legs are enough to make anyone stay in bed all day. Fortunately, you can get around pretty well with a walker.
Here’s everything you need to know to use a walker correctly.
How to Use a Walker
There are many types of walkers, including those with wheels and folding walkers. Regardless of the type of walker you’re using, the mode of use is the same. Here are some tips on using a walker to stand up, walk around, and go up and down the stairs.
Stand Up and Walk
Before you get to walking, you need to make sure that your walker is adjusted to your height. Essentially, the handles need to be at the same level as your hips, so your elbows bend about 15 degrees when using the walker. You also need to ensure that all the wheels or tips on your walker are on the ground before putting any weight on it.
To Stand Up
Push from your sitting position to a standing position. It is advisable to use a chair with arm support for the best results. This way, you don’t strain your arms too much when pushing yourself from the chair. Here are some simple steps that can guide you into standing up:
1. Grip both sides of the walker firmly.
2. Slowly move the walker forward for a short distance
3. Step forward, putting your weaker leg first and your weight on the palm of your hands. You can then take a step with your other leg. While you’re at it, make sure to keep your feet within the boundaries of the walker.
When using a walker, it is tempting to look at the floor. But, for safety purposes, experts recommend looking at where you’re going rather than the floor.
You should also avoid putting weight on your injured leg or bearing all your weight in one leg by using a hopping step. Hoping with a walker could be dangerous as it makes the walker unstable, increasing your chances of falling.
1. Push or lift your walker forward for a comfortable distance. This could be a few inches, centimeters, or even an arm’s length.
2. Ensure all wheels or tips on your walker are touching the ground you take your first step.
3. Step forward with your weaker leg. If you’ve had surgery on both legs, take the first step with the leg that feels weaker.
4. Step forward with your stronger leg, putting it in front of your weaker leg.
5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 to move forward. While you’re at it, make sure to keep a good posture and look forward.
Turning with a walker can be pretty risky, especially when you have an injured leg or just got your knee joint replaced. To avoid twisting or overly exerting your leg, try turning by taking a few short steps with your legs, then moving the walker in the direction you want to go. You can also turn by walking around with the walker in a big circle.
To Sit in a Chair
1. Back up slowly until you feel the chair against the back of your legs.
2. Grip the chair’s arms with both hands.
3. Ease down into the chair.
To Go up and Down the Stairs
Unfortunately, walkers aren’t designed to go up and down the stairs. However, you can always get someone to carry your walker as you use the rails on the stairs for support.
To Prevent Falls
Here’s what you should look out for to avoid falling:
· Damaged and worn-out walkers can be dangerous to use. Therefore, you should ensure that your walker is in great condition and is fitted with grooved rubber tips on the bottom of each leg. Grooved rubber tips increase friction, thus reducing the risk of slippage.
· Avoid walking on waxed floors and throw rugs.
· For better support, wear shoes with low heeld\d. These shoes provide extra support at your ankles, thus improving the overall strength of your leg.
· Stay alert when walking on slippery or wet surfaces. Even though your walker has grooved rubber tips, they don’t fare well against wet surfaces.
· Use the right size walker. Many people fall from their walkers because they are too big or too small. The size of your walker also has a direct impact on comfort. On the bright side, you can always adjust your walker such that it fits you.
Using a Walker on a Curb Step
Unlike stairs, curbs give you the much-needed space to place your walker as you move up and down the curb. Here’s how to step up on a curb.
To Step Up on a Curb
1. Walk up close to the curb so that your walker is almost touching the curb.
2. Lift your walker slightly and place it on the curb.
3. Grip your walker’s handles tightly and push down with your hands.
4. Step up with your stronger leg.
5. Step up with your weaker leg.
An Alternative Method to Step Up in a Curb
1. Step close to the curb.
2. Grip your walker tightly and push down with your hands.
3. Step up with your stronger leg.
4. Step up with your weaker leg.
5. Lift the walker slightly onto the curb.
To Step Down off a Curb
1. Walk up to the curb until you reach the edge.
2. Place the walker on the ground, ensuring that all tips touch the ground.
3. Step down with your injured leg.
4. Grip the walker tightly and push down with your hands.
5. Step down with your stronger leg.
The Bottom Line
Walkers offer a great and effective way to move around after an accident or surgery. Despite the walker being a simple device, learning to use it correctly takes a great deal of practice and getting used to. With the steps above, you’ll be able to move effortlessly with your walker.