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Stair Climbing With Crutches

Weight-bearing status:__________________________________________________

Going up the stairs

  1. Hold onto the hand rail with 1 hand. Hold both crutches under your opposite arm. If there is no hand rail, keep 1 crutch under each arm. Crutches should be in the middle of the step, away from the edge.
  2. Start close to the bottom step.
  3. Keep the crutches on the step where you are standing. Step up with your stronger leg (see image at right).  
  4. Push down on your crutches, and then step up with your weaker leg.
  5. Once both feet are on the same step, bring your crutches up
  6. Check your balance before you move to the next step. Repeat 1 through 6.

Going down the stairs

  1. Hold onto the hand rail with 1 hand. Hold both crutches under your opposite arm. If there is no hand rail, keep 1 crutch under each arm. Crutches should be in the middle of the step, away from the edge.
  2. Start near the edge of the step.
  3. Put your crutches down on the next step.
  4. Step down with your weaker leg.
  5. Step down with your stronger leg.
  6. Check your balance before you move to the next step. Repeat 1 through 6.

Tips for going up and down the stairs

There is a simple saying to help you remember how to go up and down the stairs with your crutches. It is, “Up with the good, down with the bad.” This means that when you are going up the stairs, you should lead with your stronger, or “good,” leg. When you are going down the stairs, you should lead with your weaker, or “bad,” leg. The crutches support your weaker leg.

Your doctor may tell you that you are not allowed to put your weaker foot down on the ground at all (non-weight bearing). In this case when going up steps, bend your knee and keep your foot behind you. When coming down stairs, extend your weaker leg in front of you.

If the steps are narrow and there are no railings, you may have to sit on each step. You can move up and down the stairs on your buttocks. You can do this whenever you feel unsteady or unsure of yourself. It is also a good idea to make sure someone is nearby in case you need help. You will get more comfortable as you continue to use your crutches. Once you feel comfortable, you can step with your weaker leg and the crutch at the same time.

Tips for walking with crutches

  • Carry items in a backpack.
  • Do not hang or lean on your crutches. Support all your weight on your hands, not under your arms.
  • Maintain good posture when walking.
  • Wear shoes that fit well, support your feet, and are comfortable.
  • Be careful when walking on uneven or wet surfaces.
  • Walk at a safe, comfortable pace.

Your therapist may show you different ways to move safely, depending on your situation or environment. For more helpful information, visit UPMC's guide for sitting and standing while using crutches.

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