How to Climb Stairs After Hip Surgery

Updated February 21, 2017

After you've recovered sufficiently from hip replacement surgery to move about on your own, you may still find the thought of negotiating stairs a daunting one. An easy-to-remember saying will help you navigate stairs correctly. Your "good leg" must lead when going up the stairs and your "bad leg" must lead on the way back down. So, just remember: "up with the good, down with the bad."

Keep your crutches on the ground as you start to ascend the stairs. Face the stairway and make sure that you lean forward slightly while the crutches are still on the floor. If you have advanced to the point that you use a cane rather than crutches, then keep the cane on the floor.

Lift your good leg, which is the leg the surgeons did not operate on, and place your foot on the first step. Your crutches or cane should still maintain their position on the floor below this step, as should the leg that had the hip replacement.

Raise your bad leg and bring it up to first step next to the good leg. Never attempt to take steps in a normal manner immediately after a hip replacement. Do not climb using the method of putting one foot on a step and the other foot on the step above.

Bring the pair of crutches or the cane up to the step upon which you are now standing so that they can support your weight. Repeat this process to negotiate each separate step until you reach the top. Stop and rest, if you feel the need to, as you climb the stairs.

Go down the stairs using the opposite approach. Lead with your crutches or cane, placing these supports on the first step before you move either leg. This will give you full support as you make your way down.

After properly placing your crutches or cane, lead with your bad leg to descend. Once you have placed the leg that had the operation on the step, bring your good leg down so that both legs and the crutches or cane are all on the same step. Repeat this procedure for every step until you have reached the floor. You may find that going down stairs is more arduous than climbing them.


Have someone close by when you first attempt to climb or descend stairs. Ask for assistance until you are fully acquainted with the procedure.

Things You'll Need

  • Crutches or cane
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About the Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.