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Using Crutches: Up and Down Steps

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.

Tip: Ask a friend to carry 1 of your crutches while you go up or down stairs.

Take care when using stairs

  • Always use an elevator if available.

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

  • When there is no handrail, keep 1 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 1 hand as you do so.

Up stairs

  • Hold the handrail with 1 hand.

  • If a friend is not available to carry 1 of the crutches, 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.

    3 steps in using crutches to go upstairs.

Down stairs

  • Hold the handrail with 1 hand.

  • If a friend is not available to carry 1 of the crutches, 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.

    3 steps in using crutches to go downstairs.

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