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How to use a walker


Why do I need to use a walker?

Your doctor or physical therapist will explain to you why it is important for you to use a walker. The most common reasons are:

  • To relieve pain;
  • To help with balance;
  • To provide support when muscles are weak;
  • To keep you safe when there is loss of feeling in the leg;
  • To limit how much weight you put on your leg;
  • To help your body heal; and
  • To get you back to normal activities

Walkers are more stable than crutches or canes. A walker will be recommended if you need a lot of support. Walkers have a wide base of support. It gives stability back and forth as well as side to side, and it improves balance. Wheels can be placed on the front of walkers to help you push the walker smoothly. Wheels may also be used if you are unable to lift and move the walker.


Does my walker fit?

A walker is safest when it fits you well. To get the best fit, you stand up straight. Wear the shoes you will be wearing to walk around. A walker fits if:

  • Your wrists hit the handgrips when you hang your arms at your sides; and
  • Your arms are slightly bent at the elbow when your hands are on the grips.

Occasionally, a different style of walker, one that you hold behind instead of in front, may be used. These walkers are adjusted for height in the same way.


  • If your walker does not feel right, ask your therapist to check the fit.
  • Use nonskid rubber tips to keep you from slipping. Change tips that look worn.
  • Keep all 4 legs of the walker at the same length.
  • Do not slump over the walker. Stand up straight!



Walking with your walker

To use your walker, you will need to learn a new gait or way to walk. Your doctor or therapist will tell you whether you should keep all your weight off your leg (non-weightbearing gait) or whether you can put some weight on it (weightbearing gait). Balance, coordination, strength, and pain will also be factors in choosing the best gait pattern for you.

Non-weightbearing gait

  • Hold your affected foot/leg off the floor.
  • Lift (or roll) the walker forward about twelve inches.
  • Support your weight on your hands. Move your good foot forward to the center of the walker.

Weightbearing gait

  • Lift (or roll) the walker forward about 12 inches.
  • Step forward with your good foot/leg.
  • Use the walker to help you keep your balance as you take a step.
  • Bring your other leg forward to the center of the walker.


If you have questions about using a walker, call Rehabilitation Services at 595-3621. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3621. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3621.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).