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Managing stairs

Learning how to manage stairs may take a little time to get used to but it is important to stay safe.

Non-weight bearing

This is where you use the stairs without putting any of your bodyweight on your legs.

Going up

  • Bend your affected leg behind you, making sure it does not catch on the steps
  • Place one hand on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Keep your elbow crutch on the same level as your foot
  • Push through the hand rail and your elbow crutch
  • Hop onto the step above
  • Bring your elbow crutch to the same level as your foot

Going down

  • Bring your affected leg in front of you, make sure it does not catch on the steps
  • Place one hand down on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Place your elbow crutch down first in the middle of the step below
  • Put weight through your arms
  • Hop carefully onto the step below to join your elbow crutch

Partial-weight bearing

This is where you use the stairs with only some of your bodyweight going on your legs.

Going up

  • Place one hand on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Keep your elbow crutch on the same level as your feet
  • Push through the hand rail and your elbow crutch
  • Step up with your unaffected leg first
  • Step up onto the same step with your affected leg and bring your elbow crutch to the same level as your feet

Going down

  • Place one hand down on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Place your elbow crutch on the step below, avoiding to place it near the edge
  • Put weight through both arms
  • Step down with your affected leg first
  • Step down onto the same step with your unaffected leg

Touch-weight bearing

This is where you use the stairs with only a minimum amount of your bodyweight through your toes.

Going up

  • Place one hand on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Keep your elbow crutch on the same level as your feet
  • Push through the hand rail and your elbow crutch
  • Step up with your unaffected leg first, putting minimum weight through your toes of the affected leg
  • Step up onto the same step with your affected leg, and bring your elbow crutch to the same level as your feet

Going down

  • Place one hand down on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Place your elbow crutch on the step below, avoiding to place it near the edge
  • Put weight through both arms
  • Step down with your affected leg first, putting minimum weight through your toes of the affected leg
  • Step down onto the same step with your unaffected leg

Heel-weight bearing

This is where you use the stairs with only a minimum amount of your bodyweight through your heels.

Going up

  • Place one hand on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Keep your elbow crutch on the same level as your feet
  • Push through the hand rail and your elbow crutch
  • Step up with your unaffected leg first. If both of your legs are affected, the most comfortable leg first.
  • Step up onto the same step with your affected leg, putting weight through your heel and bring your elbow crutch to the same level as your feet

Going down

  • Place one hand down on the hand rail and the other hand in your elbow crutch
  • Place your elbow crutch on the step below, avoiding to place it near the edge
  • Put weight through both arms. Step down with your affected leg first, putting weight through your heel. If both of your legs are affected, the most uncomfortable leg first.
  • Step down onto the same step with your unaffected leg

You may find it easier to go up and down the stairs sideways if you are not using elbow crutches, holing the rail with both hands.

On your bottom

This is where you use the stairs with your bodyweight going through your bottom instead of your legs.

Going up

  • Make sure a small chair is near the top of the stairs
  • Sit on the second step with your unaffected leg on the step below
  • Lift your affected leg out straight in front of you. Someone may need to help with holding your leg.
  • Place your hands behind you on the step above
  • Push through your arms and unaffected leg to lift yourself onto the step above
  • Once your bottom is at the top of the stairs, use your unaffected leg and arms to move yourself to the small chair
  • Place your hands on the chair behind you, push through your unaffected leg and lift yourself onto the chair

Going down

  • Sit on a small chair near the top of the stairs
  • Lower yourself down onto the floor
  • Lift your affected leg out straight in front of you. Someone may need to assist with holding your leg.
  • Use your unaffected leg and arms to move yourself to the top step
  • Lower your unaffected leg onto a step or two below
  • Place your hands on the step on the same level as your bottom
  • Putting weight through your unaffected leg and arms, lower yourself onto the step below
  • Once your foot is on the ground floor, use a handrail to help pull yourself to stand on your unaffected leg making sure your walking aid is in front of you.
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Disclaimer

Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: PT73

Resource Type: Article

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United Kingdom

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