stairway handrail use - a survey

I am looking for opinions and practices about use of handrails with steps and stairs. Please feel free to add additional comments or criteria if necessary. Feel free to elaborate on the difference in how steps and stairs affect your personal use.

I am using steps to indicate a few risers, and stairs to indicate a set of several, such as 5 or more.

physically fit = in very good health, athletic

able=bodied = generally healthy and no physical impairments to walking normally

mobility-impaired = having some physical condition that makes regular walking difficult: age, weight, injury, illness, etc

Let’s try this poll thingy.

I’m minimally mobility impaired. I can hurt my knees by stepping down to hard on stairs, so to avoid that I use handrails now. Until a few years ago I wouldn’t bother.

Able-bodied, frequently. Particularly in public. All it took was one spectacular fall (I wasn’t hurt, but it was in front of a lot of people and very embarrassing) to make me eager to avoid another.

Physically fit and I use handrails almost all the time–a lesson I learned from several near disasters going both up and down .

I always hold a handrail if one is available. The length of the staircase, etc. is irrelevant because I don’t grip it and use it to pull me along nor do I actively use it for balance. I lightly run my hand along the hand rail so that I could grab it by just closing my hand if needed.

I was pretty much trained up this way from childhood. I’ve saved myself from a couple scary falls over my lifetime, so despite the fact that it is uneeded 99.8% of the time, I don’t see myself breaking the habit.

BTW, if no handrail is available, I usually put my hand to the wall. Going down stairs without anything for balance actually feels kind of “wrong.”

I’m able-bodied and don’t use them much because I got a little germ phobia about them. I encounter them mostly at my doctor’s office (I take the stairs down) where I feel like everyone coming through is sick, and at the gym where I spend half my time wiping stuff down and trying to be clean. I do use the railing on the way down from the gym because I’m wiped out by then. I always squirt my hands with the Purell machine on my way out the door (and don’t touch the door with my hands.)

I voted for the first option but I am clumsy. This describes my usage exactly.

I have a limp (from a very minor case of cerebral palsy) and cannot psychologically walk down more than 5-6 stairs without a handrail. If I have to I can do it. I don’t need a handrail going up the stairs, but I will still probably grab it if it’s right there. Also, I tend to favor my left side so I prefer the left handrail, which gets me into trouble in a right handed world.

One other thing to consider - the height of the stair. If it’s a half stair or even a stair with 3/4 of the normal height, I am generally fine going down and don’t need handrails at all.

But it always amazes me to see people run down stairs without thinking or using the handrails. It makes me a bit jealous. On the other hand, my case of CP is extremely minor and I can still run if needed. So I shouldn’t complain!

I may glide my hand along it but I don’t use it for balance unless I am injured.

I used to use them more often but my darling children were using the bannisters at home to push off and jump down each step. It was loud and they were hurting the bannister. So, we taught them how to not use the bannister for now. As such, I don’t use it anymore, either.

(Actually, I do if I have no lights on so I can tell where I am in the dark by feel.)

Over the past few years I have found myself using the handrail more, as stiffness in my knees and ankles increases. I’m 55, and as far as I know, it’s all downhill from here.

Yup, me too. I’ve seen too many stairway accidents and had too many of my own to NOT use the railing.

Until last week when I traversed San Francisco on foot I would have said rarely…after tackling the Filbert Steps ALL the way down I say…almost always. Those steps were relentless and powerful!

I spent 9 mos on crutches in college after a ski injury and lived on floor 6 of my dorm. I had to walk up and down those stairs so carefully, that since then I don’t feel entirely comfortable on stairs, even 25 years later. So, I tend to use the handrail, though I really don’t need o.

I’m somewhere between fit and able… I use the handrails on the basis of game-theory, sort of like Pascal’s Wager. If I do use them, and don’t really need to, meh, no great cost to me. But if I don’t use them…and really needed to…holy mackerel, I’m in deep trouble! Ka-Boom! Wheelchairs and crutches and casts and doctor bills!

One hand for yourself, and one hand for the ship.

I’m reasonably able but since I got peripheral neuropathy (that is, my feet tingle all the time), a complication of diabetes, I always try to use a handrail going down. Going up I often don’t. But in my younger days, I would just skip down the stairs without giving it a moment’s thought.

You do not delineate between ascending and descending. I hardly, if ever, use the handrail when climbing stairs, but I make it a point to at least give finger service to it when going down. It has nothing to do with fitness, it has to do with how much pain I would be in if I tripped and fell down the stairs versus tripped and fell into the stairs. There might be an older/younger division for this reason–as we know, young people are invulnerable. :wink:

Isn’t it obviously safer to maintain as many points of contact with the the stairwell as you can while moving up or down?
Offshore, and I believe on vessels, where stairwells are really steep the instruction is to use both handrails and go down backwards maintaining 3 points of contact at all time.

I am able-bodied, I have equilibrium problems, and going downstairs I either use the handrail or touch the wall with my hand. When I’m having a bad vertigo/vision problems day, I also touch the wall when walking on a flat surface (it works better than my sight as a point of reference).

Going upstairs I still use the handrail but a lot less.

I’m in good shape, and I “use” handrails in the sense that my hand is close enough to it to grasp, in case I lose my footing. I think that’s what they’re for.

At the last company I worked for, there were steep stairs between floors, and one woman fell on them twice, injuring herself significantly enough to require recuperative leave both times. She was in the habit of going up and down stairs with her arm extended to the one o’clock position, tapping the wall there - as far from the rail as she could possibly manage. She kept this habit after her falls, and when I asked her why she didn’t get in the habit of keeping her hand closer to the rail, she explained “It’s so dirty.” :rolleyes:

I chose fit and rarely.

I don’t use them at all going up, and I use the “finger glide” when going down - sometimes just hovering in that area. I’ve fallen down stairs before, and that is no fun.
When I was quite ill, I did use them both going up and down stairs and steps for about 3 months. It was easier to have extra muscles to haul me up, and to have extra balance points when going down. Based on that, I presume that my use of railings will increase as I get older and more tottery/weak.