Fortunately, there has been an increase in popularity of a simple product designed to make life on crutches slightly less unbearable. Crutch comfort pads are designed to cover the existing rubber pads that come with most standard crutches. Crutch comfort pads provide extra padding for crutch users by using foam, gel, or even sheepskin to soften the impact of crutches on underarms. Some crutch pads come in four-piece sets, covering both the underarm as well as the handgrips, while others only offer padding for the underarms. Crutch padding is usually covered with fabric, and there are even crutch pads for kids that look like stuffed animals (cute!). Regardless, with the advent of crutch comfort pads, the days of people wrapping towels around their crutches with duct tape appear to be over.
We identified about a dozen different brands of crutch comfort pads available on Amazon. Of those, we chose to compare the two brands that are by far and away the top sellers: Crutcheze, and Vive.
Both Crutcheze and Vive offer crutch pads that look quite similar on Amazon, but after purchasing both, we found some distinct differences.
Crutcheze is the oldest player in the crutch pad market, having been around for over 10 years. The company advertises their pads as being made in the USA, and claims their pads were designed by “health care professionals”. The company also manufactures crutch bags, walker pads, and walker covers, and appears to be a small private company. They sell on Amazon, but we also found Crutcheze pads available at hospitals, orthopedic clinics, and medical supply stores.
Crutcheze crutch pads are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns; the solid colors advertise being made of “moisture wicking, anti-bacterial” material. The patterns vary from digital camouflage to paisley, with plenty of variety to meet most tastes.
For purposes of comparison, we ordered the black crutch pads. The Crutcheze crutch pad fabric feels thick, strong, and stretched nicely over the foam. Once fitted, they stay in place with the help of a simple Velcro fastening strip. The set includes four pieces, two underarm pads, and two hand grip pads. On our test set, both the pads and hand grips stayed in place firmly.
What most impressed us with the Crutcheze pads was the foam. The foam on the underarm pads is quite thick and firm but still soft. The foam in the Crutcheze pads is removable, allowing users to wash the covers if they get dirty. When we removed the foam to wash the covers, it was thicker on top of the crutch, and thinner on the sides, which helps explain the excellent fit.
Testing out our crutches with Crutcheze pads we noticed immediate comfort compared to the standard rubber pads. And while we admittedly only hobbled along for a few feet, it was clear the crutches would be much more bearable with these pads installed. The handgrips were also much more comfortable, although one of our testers with small hands said they made it difficult to reach all the way around the handles.
Crutcheze crutch pads are sold on various websites including Amazon, and range from $24.99 — $34.99, with some clearance patterns as low as $19.99.
-Extremely comfortable, thick foam
-Removable foam for easy washing
-Large selection of colors and patterns available
-Anti-bacterial, moisture-wicking fabrics (solid colors)
-Made in the USA
-A bit pricey
-The foam may actually be too thick for some users
Vive crutch pads
Vive is a relative newcomer in the crutch pad space but has quickly become a top seller on Amazon. The company appears to sell a large line of home healthcare products almost exclusively on Amazon. We could not find any instances of Vive selling their pads in hospitals or other healthcare locations.
The Vive pads we received came in a nice box, with good graphics that looked very professional. Like Crutcheze, the Vive set comes with both underarm pads as well as hand grip pads. The design looks very similar, if not identical to the Crutcheze pads, though the box indicates the Vive pads are made in China.
In the famous words of Henry Ford, Vive pads are available in any color….as long as it is black. Taking the Vive pads out of the box it is immediately apparent how much smaller they are than the Crutcheze pads. While the Crutcheze pads are very thick, with a dense foam, the Vive pads feel thinner, and much softer. This may appeal to some users who found the Crutcheze padding too thick, but to us it felt cheap. The foam in the Vive pads is also permanently sewn to the cover, so it does not remove for washing.. While Crutcheze uses a molded piece of foam contoured to fit the crutch, Vive uses a square of foam that is all the same thickness.
The Vive pads attach identically to the Crutcheze pads, and like Crutcheze, seems to stay in place well, though the Velcro felt cheaper. The Vive handgrips are very similar to the Crutcheze grips, but again the foam feels softer.
The consensus among our testers was the Vive crutch pads were much thinner, with some users complaining they could still feel the hard rubber pads beneath them. Others, especially our smaller tester, liked the thinner size, but everyone agreed the Crutcheze crutch pads were much higher quality.
Vive crutch pads are currently sold on Amazon for $14.99
- Thinner foam might work better for smaller users
-Significantly less expensive
-Cheap feeling, thin foam
-Weaker Velcro strips
-Made in China
-Only available in black
In a price independent comparison, there was a clear winner among all our testers. The Crutcheze crutch pads were simply of a much higher quality. The foam is thicker, fabric better, and Velcro stronger. Also, the Crutcheze pads are available in a wide variety of fun colors and patterns. The Vive pads felt to most like a cheap knock-off of Crutcheze, albeit at a significantly lower price. But while clearly of inferior quality, most felt the Vive pads still made the crutches significantly more comfortable.
Most people who are using standard crutches are on them for one to eight weeks. And most people pretty much hate every minute of it. Thanks to innovative companies like Crutcheze and Vive, that time can now be slightly less miserable, for which we applaud them.