Living With Polio

How to Use Crutches on Stairs

  • Approach the stairs and have your therapist stand by for safety until confident of abilities.
  • Keep crutches down on lower level and do not place upward on the steps. Push down hard on the crutches with your arms. This lifts the body upward.
  • Then, step up first with your strong leg to the first step!
  • Bring up your weak leg and crutches to the same step as the strong leg.
  • Crutches and both legs should now be on the same step.
  • Repeat sequence from Step 3 again.
  • To come down the stairs, lower the crutches down to the next step.
  • The strong good leg and your arms will help lower body weight slowly to the next step.
  • Move the weaker/painful leg down to the step with the crutches on it.
  • Keep little or all weight off the painful leg as per your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Step down with strong leg.
  • Both legs and the crutches should be on the same step.
  • Repeat sequence from Step 7 to continue descending stairs.
  • When finished, play theme song from Hollywood movie Rocky.
  • Hydrate with liquids to keep refreshed from the workout!


  • Use a handrail and both crutches on one side, if balance or fatigue is a problem.
  • To remember proper gait sequence, just recall “Good foot goes to heaven, bad foot goes to hell-o!”
  • Try to keep arms strong with simple strengthening exercises to help reduce walking fatigue.

Courtesy of Thomas Fetterman, Inc. 


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Assistive Devices