How to Walk With a Walker

Walk With Your Walker the Right Way

 

After injury, surgery, or illness, your ability to walk safely may be limited. Sometimes strength or balance may be impaired, and you may need to walk with a walker to safely get around. Assistive devices may include a walker, cane, crutches, or a quad cane. But how do you use a walker, and is there a safe way to walk with a standard walker?

standard walker may be the right device to help you walk safely. Your physical therapist can show you how to use a walker properly and can determine if the walker is the best assistive device for you.

When using a walker for the first time, you should consult your physician and physical therapist to ensure that you are using the correct device for your condition and that you are using the walker properly. Remember to be cautious if you are not allowed to put full weight on your leg because of injury or surgery; do so may delay your healing.

What Could Happen If You Do Not Walk Properly With Your Walker?

If you are using a walker and you fail to use it properly, it may tip over. If this happens, you may tip over with the walker as well, and this could lead to injury. Learning to walk properly with your walker can keep you safe while you are moving around.

Let's take a look at how to properly walk with a walker as an assistive device.

1
Advance The Walker

Photo of a man with a standard walker.
Brett Sears, PT, 2011

The normal pattern of walking with a standard walker can be broken down into simple steps. To start with, stand in the walker with your hands on the hand grips. Your elbows should be bent comfortably.

First, the walker is lifted and moved forward about an arm’s length. Be sure that all four legs contact the floor at the same time to avoid tipping the walker. Do not place the walker on the back two legs; all four legs must be in contact with the floor.

2
Advance the First Foot

Photo of a man with a walker.
Brett Sears, PT, 2011

Next, one foot steps towards the walker. Do not step too close to the front of the walker and be sure to keep your body in the center of the walker. Stepping too close to the front of the walker may cause it to tip forward and this could lead to injury.

Be sure you are not too far away from the walker either. Your foot should land squarely inside the walker. Standing too far away from the walker can cause it to tip backward, leading to falls.

3
Advance the Other Foot Forward

Photo of a man walking with a walker.
Brett Sears, PT, 2011

Then, the other foot is advanced past the first foot. Be sure you are standing in the center of the walker and that the walker does not tip over. Your feet should not be next to one another; your one foot should be slightly in front of the other.

Make sure you are completely within the walker at this point. Too far back, forward, or to one side may lead to loss of balance or falling. This may cause injury.

4
Repeat the Cycle

Photo of a man with a standard walker.
Brett Sears, PT, 2011

Repeat the cycle to continue walking forward: walker, foot, other foot, walker.

It is important not to step too close to the front crossbar of the walker to avoid falling. Your body should remain in the central part of the walker. Also, be sure that all four feet of the walker contact the floor at the same time to avoid tipping the walker over.

Your physical therapist should be able to show you exercises to strengthen your legs and to work on balance to make walking with your walker easier and safer.

A Word From Verywell

By working closely with your doctor and physical therapist, you can use the correct walker properly to ensure safe and independent walking.

Was this page helpful?
View Article Sources
  • O'Sullivan, S. B. (1994). Physical rehabilitation: assessment and treatment. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company