How to Properly Fit Your Walker

The joys of using a properly fitted walker are wonderful

The feelings of freedom in being able to walk to the kitchen, make yourself a cup of coffee and bringing it back to your table in the window, are priceless. When you have a walker that is fitted properly and you use it correctly you will find that walking is a safe, enjoyable and fun activity again.

Watch the instructional video by an occupational therapist explaining how to properly use your walker

Your health care practitioner will advise you on the best type of walker to get for your use. You may have decided on a standard walker (with or without front wheels) to get around your home and to help you following surgery. You may be using a standard walker while going through rehabilitation and then move to a rollator walker for outside extended use. Whatever the type and style of walker you have chosen, you will want to make sure it fits you properly and is set-up correctly so you may continue to use it enjoyably.

How to Properly Fit Your Walker

When you first get the walker that your health care practitioner has recommended, you may still want some help adjusting it to suit your specific needs. It is always a good idea to read and understand the owner’s manual that comes with your walker. If you have trouble understanding the manual, do not hesitate to talk to your medical practitioner or a technical person from the store where you bought your walker.

Here are the main tips for fitting your walker:

  • After assembling the walker, make sure the walker legs are securely locked and the folding mechanism is in the locked position.
  • Ensure that the hand grips are tight and do not move around. Ensure that the rubber tips and/or plastic glide tips are not ripped, worn or missing. Replace any tips that look worn before using the walker and regularly thereafter.
  • If you are using a basket accessory, ensure that you attach it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You do not want to hang anything else on your walker, either on the front or sides. This could harm locking mechanisms or unbalance your walker. Before using your walker ensure that all attachments are locked in place.
  • You have selected a walker that will support your “leaning” weight. A walker is not meant to support your full weight (like a wheelchair does), just enough of your weight to help you walk safely and securely. Before purchasing your walker, ensure it will hold your “leaning” weight. Bariatric walkers (for those who require extra weight support) are available.
  • Although walkers are adjustable for your height, you can purchase walkers for a smaller adult frame or a taller adult frame. Your medical practitioner will have recommended the correct type of walker; make sure you purchased the correct one before using it.

Measuring your wrist height to determine the best fit for your walker

  • Stand comfortably, with assistance from a friend, if required, with your arms hanging loosely at your sides. Measure the distance from the floor to your wrist. This is how high from the ground your walker’s grips (handles) should be. To use your walker properly and to avoid pain in your back or arms, you do not want to bend over to hold your walker nor do you want to reach up to hold your walker. You need to stand as erect as possible and grip your walker easily and comfortably.
  • Adjust the height of the walker by adjusting all four legs equally so the walker is level. If you are using two wheels on the front of your walker, ensure that the back of the walker is level with the front.
  • Glide skis should not be used on all four leg extensions at once. When using a walker, the rear legs with rubber tips or glide skis remain on the ground – you lift the front of the walker when walking. Glide skis are used on rear legs so that the walker does not snag on a carpet.

Once you’ve adjusted your walker for the proper fit, you’ll then need to take the time to learn how to use it safely.

Next article: How to Safely Use Your Walker