The use of walking canes is often prescribed for seniors to compensate for decreased balance, coordination, strength, and sensation, which often increases the risk of potentially tragic falls.
While the efficacy of canes to prevent falls cannot be questioned, there is evidence that some older adults use canes incorrectly, significantly increasing their risk of falling- that beats the logic of using the cane in the first place.
Using a cane on stairs can particularly be challenging- bear in mind that you’re probably hampered by issues such as a bad leg, lower back pain, or severe balance problems yet you’re expected to maneuver the steps safely.
Below we teach you how to use a cane on stairs to help you out.
Sure, walking comfortably and safely with a cane takes practice but in truth, it’s not as difficult as most people presume…
How to use a cane on stairs
Two things are crucial to avoid the inevitable instability and a possible fall when using a cane on stairs:
- Selecting the right cane.
- Using it properly.
We will assume that you already have the correct type of cane for your situation so we will go straight to proper usage.
How to use a cane on stairs – step by step
Tip: If possible, try the procedure first with the help of a caregiver, friend, or relative. Their role is to help steady you if necessary.
First off, let’s look at how to go up staircases with railings with a cane.
How to use a cane to go up the stairs with railing:
Step 1: Stand right next to the edge of your stairs.
Step 2: Now hold the cane in the appropriate hand- this is the hand opposite the weaker side (and not the hand on the side needing support). Thus, if it’s your left knee that’s troubled, grasp the cane on the right hand. It helps offset your bodyweight to the stronger side.
Step 3: With the free hand, grab the handrail firmly and begin your climb by stepping up your okay leg onto the first stair. To be clear, the handrail will be on the affected side now.
Step 4: Next, bring the cane up the stair alongside the problematic leg so that your two legs will be level once more.
Keep mind that the correct order, in summary, is: good leg followed by the cane + bad leg.
Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you ace the stairs.
How to use a cane to go down the stairs (with railing)
Going downstairs is not that unsettling as well even if you’re struggling with a significant problem.
Follow these steps:
Step 1: Stand where the stairs start.
Step 2: Hold onto the handrail strongly and bring the cane down the first step- here you start with the cane because you need the extra support in front of you.
Step 3: Now put the hurting leg on the first step going down so that it will be in the same step with the cane.
Step 4: Next bring the healthy leg down to the same step and balance yourself.
So the changed order when climbing down is: The cane, the ailing leg, and finally the healthy leg.
Step 5: Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 until you have completed the stairs.
How to use a cane on stairs without railing
Don’t worry if there are no handrails- all you have to do is try to steady yourself as much as possible –with the help of the cane- as you go up/down the stairs.
Here is exactly how to walk up and down stairs easily and safely with a cane in staircases where handrails are missing:
How to use a cane to go up staircases without handrails:
Step 1: Stand right next to the stairs.
Step 2: Now hold the cane as described earlier.
Tip: In this case, you will be fully reliant on your walking cane so ensure that you have solidly and comfortably grasped the cane in the appropriate hand before proceeding to step 3.
Step 3: Simply start the same procedure you follow on stairs with a handrail- bring the untroubled leg up the opening step.
Step 4: Lift the cane up onto the step together with the suffering leg.
Step 5: Balance yourself to the fullest extent on the cane and the good leg- the two should shift your body weight from the frail side.
Step 6: Continue the above steps until you come to the top.
How to use a cane to go down a staircase without handrails:
Follow these steps to use a cane to come down stairs without handrails:
Step 1: As explained in the previous section, the cane will lead. Be sure that you are steadfastly gripping it before placing your cane on the step just below you.
Step 2: Next to step forward is the bad leg- while resolutely holding onto the cane, bring it onto the first step below you.
Step 3: Lastly, put the healthy leg on the same step.
Step 4: Balance yourself sufficiently.
Step 5: Repeat the steps until you come to the bottom.
How to walk up and down stairs with a cane- General safety guidelines when using walking canes
- Always look straight ahead the stairs (not down or sideways).
- Don’t be in a hurry- go slowly until you
- Practice makes perfect- practice, practice, and practice until you master the process.
- Clear any obstacles that could hinder your view or cause you to slip, trip, or fall.
- Ask for assistance if you feel hesitant about going up or down the stairs.
Wrapping it up
Using a cane can help you walk more safely and be more independent in your day-to-day activities.
Your physician may also recommend that use a cane after surgery to ease the stress on your painful joint or limb.
Whatever the reason/problem, the most important thing is to use the cane correctly.
You have just learned how to use a cane on stairs, one of the toughest spots to maneuver with mobility aids for most elders.
We hope that this will help you further enhance your safety and independence.