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Using Crutches: Up and Down Steps

Tip: Ask a friend to carry one of your crutches while you climb or descend stairs.

When climbing up and down steps, remember this rule: Up with the good (unaffected leg) and down with the bad (affected leg). Note: If you’re supposed to keep all weight off your leg (non-weight-bearing), ask your healthcare provider for special instructions.

Image of woman on crutches

Up Stairs

  • Hold the handrail with one hand.

  • Put both crutches in your other hand.

  • Support your weight evenly between the handrail and your crutches.

  • Put some weight on the crutches.

  • Step up with your unaffected foot.

  • Get your balance.

  • Straighten your unaffected knee and lift your body weight.

  • Bring your crutches and affected leg up.

Image of woman on crutches

Down Stairs

  • Hold the handrail with one hand.

  • Put both crutches in your other hand.

  • Bend your unaffected knee, moving your crutches and affected leg down.

  • Support your weight evenly between the handrail and your crutches.

  • Slowly bring your unaffected leg down.

  • Don’t hop.

Precautions for Using Stairs

  • Always use an elevator if one is available.

  • Have someone guard you as you learn to use stairs. A guard stands below you. He or she holds your belt (or a special “gait belt” you can borrow or buy) to assist you if you lose your balance.

  • When there is no handrail, keep one crutch under each arm. Follow the instructions above.

  • If the stairs are slippery or steep, it may be safer to lift or lower yourself from step to step while sitting. Hold both your crutches in one hand as you do so.

 

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