How To Safely Maneuver Stairs, Steps and Ramps..especially after a TKR

Hi everyone.  As you all know, having knee issues presents a unique set of concerns regarding everyday life. One main issue is conquering elevated surfaces.  Here are some helpful suggestions on how to safely maneuver stairs, steps and ramps ..especially after a TKR or total knee replacement.

Back by popular is a previous post:

Test the Area
First and foremost, do a safety check. Not all stairs, steps, or ramps are created equally. Check the surface material. Is it wet, dry, asphalt, cement, rubber, etc.? The material will determine your caution level and the type of footwear needed.

Before starting any attempt, make certain you are comfortable using the surfaces. The step may be thicker (steeper) than the standard version we learned to use during tkr recuperation. It may be narrower, have rounded corners, or contain uneven surfaces. All of these factors matter.

For instance, the steeper the surface level, the more physical exertion needed. Rounded corners are easier to misjudge.


Use Railings
I know this is common sense, but I have seen people too proud to use these helpful devices. Forget pride. Hold onto these with a firm grip whenever possible. They were developed for a reason. Always make certain they are securely attached to the wall before using to prevent injury. It is amazing how many times they are not secured.

Walk Sideways
Instead of taking the surface head-on, turn your body sideways. Place your “good” leg on the surface, then lift your body up until you are firmly on the surface. Don’t rush it. You will feel your quadriceps working.

“One Small Step”
Instead of alternating legs like you would when climbing stairs, place your “good” leg on the surface. Lift your body up until your knee is straight and supporting your body weight.

Gently lift your tkr (or hindered) leg and place it on the surface. Stand upright. Repeat this until you reach the top of the stairs, steps, and ramps.

To visualize this method…, you will be standing (full body) on a stair, step or ramp before moving to the next one.

Use a Cane or Crutch
This may take more time, but what’s the hurry? Remember that it is always better safe than sorry. Place the walking aide in your nonaffected-side hand. Hold firmly and apply pressure to lift your body weight up onto the stair, step, or ramp. When done correctly, your arm muscles will get a good workout.


Walk Backwards
Turn your back to the stairs, steps, or ramp. You may feel strange, but forget what others think. Hold onto the railing, if available. Very slowly start walking backwards, one foot before the other.

When done correctly, you will feel your hamstrings (back of knee) muscles working while doing this maneuver to conquer stairs, steps, and ramps.

Walk Sideways
From personal experience…Avoid this method if you wear an external shoelift unless you have strong ankles. For all other interested parties, conquer the elevated surface by pretending you are a crab. Go slow and be successful.

Well, that’s all that comes to mind now about how to safely maneuver stairs, steps, and ramps. Do you have any suggestions on how you conquer these walking surfaces? We would love to hear from you !

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AUTHOR NOTE: Booktoots’ Healing helps total knee replacement patients find support throughout recuperation and beyond. Its mission is for patients to understand they are not alone in their ordeal with either a tkr or other health concerns.

This multiple award-winning site is owned and operated by Marie Buckner, a published author and tkr patient who has been living with various health conditions for over 40+ years. She enjoys sharing her experiences to help others going through the same thing.

Marie is also a proud WEGO Health Patient Leader.

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