Ever had that moment where you needed to move around but couldn’t put weight on one of your legs? Maybe after surgery or due to an injury? The solution might be closer than you think! A walker could be your new best friend. But how do you use it, especially when non-weight bearing is essential? Let’s delve into it.

What is Non-Weight Bearing (NWB)?

Non-weight bearing means that the injured leg (or foot) must not bear any weight. In other words, it shouldn’t touch the ground when walking.

Importance of Non-Weight Bearing (NWB)

Non-Weight Bearing (NWB) is a term medical professionals use to restrict placing any weight on an injured limb. This instruction is given with a crucial purpose, and here are some reasons why NWB is vital:

  1. Faster Healing: Doctors mainly advise patients to avoid putting weight on an injured limb to promote faster healing. Any added pressure can disrupt the healing process or even cause further damage.
  2. Protection of Surgical Sites: For patients who have had surgery on a limb, NWB protects the surgical site. This ensures that surgical corrections or interventions are not compromised by early weight-bearing.
  3. Avoidance of Further Injury: Putting weight on an injured leg, foot, or ankle can worsen the condition. Keeping the weight off minimizes the risk of exacerbating the injury or causing additional issues.
  4. Pain Management: Weight-bearing on an injured limb can be excruciating. NWB helps minimize pain, making the recovery process more bearable for the patient.
  5. Stabilization: In cases of fractures or breaks, NWB ensures the injured area remains stable, allowing bones to knit back together without interruption.
  6. Reduction of Swelling: After an injury or surgery, swelling is common. NWB helps to control and reduce swelling, aiding in quicker recovery.
  7. Proper Alignment: Especially in the case of fractures, keeping the affected limb non-weight bearing ensures that the bones remain properly aligned for healing.

Types of Weight Bearing

  • Full Weight Bearing: This is when your leg can handle the full weight of your body. It’s business as usual!
  • Partial Weight Bearing: The leg can bear some weight, but not fully. Think of it as a middle ground between full weight bearing and non-weight bearing.
  • Non-Weight Bearing: As mentioned before, this is when the leg should not bear any weight whatsoever.

When is a Walker Necessary?

Navigating through life’s daily activities becomes more challenging when mobility is restricted or compromised. Whether due to age, injury, surgery, or other medical conditions, there are instances when we need external support to move safely.

That’s where walkers come into play. Walkers are sturdy mobility aids designed to provide stability and support. But when exactly is a walker necessary? Here’s a look:

Post-Surgical Recovery

A walker becomes essential after certain surgeries, particularly those involving the hips, knees, or feet. It aids in providing the necessary support during the initial stages of recovery, ensuring the surgical site remains stable and free from undue stress.

Chronic Conditions

Conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other joint and muscle ailments can limit mobility. A walker offers support, allowing individuals to continue their daily activities with minimized pain.

Age-Related Mobility Issues

As we age, our strength, balance, and coordination can decrease. For some elderly individuals, a walker becomes necessary to prevent falls and ensure safer mobility.

Balance Disorders

Individuals suffering from vertigo, Meniere’s disease, or other balance disorders might struggle to walk without support. In such cases, walkers can be invaluable.

Neurological Conditions

Diseases like Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or strokes can impact a person’s ability to walk independently. A walker provides the needed stability and confidence to move around.

Muscular Weakness

Muscle weakness can make it difficult to stand or walk unaided, whether due to a temporary ailment or a chronic condition. Walkers can help bridge this gap, offering a reliable support system.

Injury Recovery

Sprains, fractures, or even more severe injuries might necessitate a period of non-weight-bearing or limited weight-bearing. During this time, walkers can facilitate mobility without exacerbating the injury.

Progressive Illnesses

For individuals diagnosed with progressive illnesses that affect mobility over time, a walker may become necessary as the disease progresses.


Using a walker can be a preventative measure to ensure safety for those at high risk of falls, perhaps due to a history of frequent falls or an environment with potential hazards.

Choosing the Right Walker

Wheeled Walker vs. Standard Walker

A wheeled walker moves smoothly, which is ideal for those who might not have the strength to lift a standard walker. However, for non-weight bearing, a standard walker can offer more stability.

Adjusting for Correct Height:

Ensure the walker’s hand grips are at the height of your wrists when your arms hang by your side. This ensures you aren’t leaning too forward or backward.

Steps to Use a Walker for NWB

  1. Positioning the Injured Leg: Start by standing with both legs within the walker frame, but remember, the injured leg should hover above the ground.
  2. Moving the Walker Forward: Push the walker slightly ahead of you, ensuring it remains stable and close enough to offer support.
  3. Stepping with the Good Leg: Move your good leg forward, placing it within the walker’s frame. Keep the injured leg off the ground at all times.

Safety Tips While Using a Walker

  • Avoiding Slippery Surfaces: Like soap operas, they’re drama you don’t need. Make sure your path is dry and free of hazards.
  • Keeping the Walker Close: Don’t push the walker too far ahead; it must be close enough to support you.
  • Navigating Curbs and Steps: Always approach them straight on. Lift the walker to the higher surface first, step up with the good leg, and then follow with the bad leg (without putting weight on it).

Maintaining Balance and Posture

  • Importance of Standing Straight: A straight posture ensures even distribution of your body weight, which can help prevent unnecessary strain on your good leg.
  • Using Arm Rests and Hand Grips: These offer additional support. Hold onto them firmly, but don’t grip so tight that you tire yourself out.

Transitioning: Sitting and Standing

  • Approaching a Chair: Move backward until the back of your legs touch the chair. Use the walker for support as you sit down.
  • Using the Walker for Support: Push yourself up using the chair’s armrests, then grab your walker’s hand grips.

Caring for Your Walker

  • Regular Checks and Adjustments: Ensure the walker is always in good condition. Check for wear and tear and ensure all parts are secure.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance: Keep your walker clean. A simple wipe-down can keep it free from germs and grime.

Understanding Your Body’s Signals

Recognizing Pain and Discomfort:

If using the walker causes pain or pain in the injured leg, it’s a sign you might be doing something wrong.

When to Seek Healthcare Provider’s Advice:

If unsure about how you’re using the walker or if something feels off, always consult your healthcare provider.


How much weight can I put on my injured leg when using a walker?

Your doctor or physical therapist will typically guide you on how much weight you can place on an injured leg. This decision is based on the nature and severity of the injury or surgery. In some cases, you might be advised to go non-weight bearing (NWB), meaning no weight at all, while in others, partial or equal weight bearing might be permissible. Always follow medical advice to ensure proper healing.

When taking a step forward with a walker, which leg should move first: the injured one or the other leg?

When using a walker, the general rule of thumb for safety is to move the weaker or injured leg forward first, followed by the stronger or other leg. This method ensures that the injured leg always has support from the walker. However, individual instructions may vary based on specific injuries or conditions, so always consult a healthcare professional for tailored guidance.

Key Takeaway

Using a walker non-weight bearing might seem challenging initially, but it becomes second nature with practice. Remember to prioritize your safety, maintain good posture, and listen to your body. And when in doubt? Seek expert advice!

Jose Alpuerto

Written by

Jose Alpuerto

With a heart that beats for the young and young-at-heart alike, Jose dives headfirst into the world of tech wizardry and safety gadgets, all with the mission of turning aging at home into an adventure. Armed with a keyboard and an unquenchable enthusiasm, he spins tales of gadgets that bring laughter and ease to the lives of the elderly, proving that growing older doesn’t mean you can’t keep the spirit of play alive.