How To Safely Use a Cane on Stairs

Keeping their balance on the stairs is one of the hardest things to do for anyone with weaker legs. Properly shifting your weight and keeping steady is not as simple as it seems. Plus, the need to balance on one foot as the other foot moves can be a very difficult task. Even when you are using a cane as a mobility aid, navigating a set of stairs can be difficult if you don’t know the correct way to do so. That is why you should learn the proper method for how to safely use a cane on stairs.

Going Up

There are two different ways that people use the stairs, and both have very different processes. Because going up the stairs is quite a bit different than going down the stairs, each task will have a different process, even though they both may require a cane for assistance. As to which one is harder, it really depends on your body. Some people think going up stairs is harder than going down, while others think the opposite.


The best way to start the climb up the stairs is to take a moment to assess the task as a whole. Make sure that you have the energy to climb the stairs in the first place. Then, locate any objects that might help you climb the stairs, such as a handrail. Utilizing a handrail can make the climb much easier.

Good Foot First

To start the actual climb up the stairs, you should stand in front of the first step and settle your weight on both feet. Using the handrail and cane for balance, lift your strongest leg and place it on the first step. Once your foot is on the first step, use it, your cane, and the railing for balance and move on to the next part of the process.

Step Up

The next part of the process is to fully step up to the step that your strong leg is on. This will mean you need to bring both your lower leg and your foot up to the higher step. You should do this at the same time to maintain balance and support. Use your front leg to lift your body upward and bring the weaker leg and the cane up to your front foot. Your goal is to stand on the higher step with both feet.


Once you have both feet on the step, it is time to move on to the next step. Take your time and keep your balance, making sure that you are always safe. To continue your climb up the stairs, repeat this process for every step until you reach the top of the stairs. Just remember to lead with your strongest leg and use the handrail, even if it means switching your cane to your other hand.

Going Gown

Going down the stairs is a very different process, as the body is working with gravity instead of against it. This means you will find a lot less resistance, but that can be very dangerous in itself. If done too fast, going down the stairs can put a lot of pressure on your knees, potentially hurting them in the process. So, it is best to take it slow and focus on maintaining balance.


Just as it is with going up stairs, if you can find a handrail, you should use it. It is a very useful tool to help you stay balanced and can give you more control over your descent. If you cannot use the handrail with your dominant hand because of your cane, it is worth it to switch your cane to your non-dominant hand. This is also a good time to take stock of the situation and make sure you have the energy to walk down the stairs.

Shifting Your Weight

The process starts with properly shifting your weight to your good leg. The back leg is going to carry a lot of your weight during this process. That is why you want to make sure you are properly balancing on it before you move on to the next parts of the process.

Lead With the Cane

The next thing you should do is move the cane down to the next step. This will help you balance as you move your feet down to the next step. Make sure you are not bending over too far to do this, as doing so will throw off your balance. This step is slightly optional, as some people like moving the weaker leg and the cane at the same time. However, some people find that they can maintain better balance by taking things one at a time.

Follow With the Weak Leg

Once your cane is on the next step, it is time to repeat the process with your weaker foot. You want to use your strong leg to control your weight as you step down with your weaker leg. This will help you control your speed and maintain your balance as your weaker foot lands on the lower step. Make sure you do not move too fast, as a speedy impact can hurt your leg.

Step Down

Now that your weaker leg is on the next step, you should shift your body weight away from the stronger leg. This will free it up so it can move onto the next step. Once your strong leg and weak leg are on the same step, you can move on.


Just as it was with climbing the steps, you will need to repeat this process until you are fully down the stairs. Make sure you move slowly and deliberately each time to help with balance. That is the best way to safely use a cane on stairs.

These steps are the safest way to go up or down a flight of stairs with a cane, no matter if you are using a women’s or men’s cane. This method is good for maintaining balance and preserving your strength and energy. If you are still having problems navigating stairs, it might be time to look for alternative options to going up or down a floor.

How To Safely Use a Cane on Stairs