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Types of Crutch Gait

As opposed to underarm crutches, forearm crutches allow a user to adapt his gait depending on physical challenge, personal preference and level of fatigue.

The crutch gaits below have been sorted from lowest to highest energy requirements (slowest to fastest).


A slow but stable gait which can be used by any individual able to move each leg separately and bear considerable weight on each foot.

Sequence: right crutch, left foot; left crutch, right foot.


Slightly faster than a 4-point gait but requires more balance. This type of gait most closely resembles normal walking.

Sequence: right crutch and left foot; left crutch and right foot.


Fairly rapid but requires arm strength to support significant body weight and maintain balance.

Sequence: both crutches and the weaker leg move forward simultaneously; then the stronger extremity is moved forward while placing most of the body weight on the arms.


Faster than any gait above, swing-to is the normal progression to swing-through gait. The movement of the legs is parallel and this type of gait requires considerable arm and upper body strength to support the entire body weight.

Sequence: bear weight on good leg (or legs); advance both crutches forward simultaneously, lean forward while swinging the body to a position even with the crutches.


The fastest of all crutch gaits. Commonly used by runners, swing-through is different from swing-to only in that the body lands past the crutches with every step.

Sequence: advance both crutches forward; lift legs off the ground and swing forward landing in advance of the crutches; bring crutches forward rapidly.

The advantages of possessing skill in more than one gait is twofold: a user can adopt a slow or fast gait as he wishes and, since each gait requires a different combination of muscles, he can change when he becomes fatigued!

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