Better Exercise on the Stairs
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Better Exercise on the Stairs

Old woman: Come upstairs and we'll make love.

Old man: I can NOT do both.

If you would like to strengthen legs and reduce knee pain while going up stairs:

  • Don't lean forward (photo 1 above)
  • Stand upright (photo 2 below)
  • Keep your heel down on the foot that steps up.
  • Push off the whole foot, feeling the push-off through the heel. Do not push off the ball of the foot.
  • When you raise one leg to step up, don't let the other leg pull and bend forward. Keep the standing leg straight (not locked straight).

Many patients who come to me, previously unable to step up a curb without pain, can climb flights without knee pain using this repositioning. Stairs become not only accessible, but a source of the exercise their legs need to strengthen and regain function.

Keep your weight back toward your heel to use leg muscles instead of putting your weight on the front of your knee. You will get knee pain relief and a built-in Achilles tendon stretch with each step. Done right, you will feel a more muscular and strong push off, making stairs easier to climb and better leg exercise. Even if you have big feet and your heel is off the step, keep your heel down instead of going up "tip-toe."

Notice if you bend forward. Instead, stand straight. The post Common Exercises Teach Hip Tightness When Kicking, Stretching, and on the Stairs explains how hip tightness increases bent forward posture when raising one leg for kicks and activities like stairs, and shows how to hold straight body position instead, to stop tightness, and get a built-in hip and body stretch.

When descending stairs or hills, bend your knees when landing for soft shock absorption. Don't step down on a straight, locked, knee. Future posts will cover more about stairs. Have fun improving leg strength and knee function by taking the stairs during daily life in a healthy way. Send photos of your successes.

Next - Down the Stairs.

Read success stories of these methods and send your own.
Questions come in by the hundreds. I make posts from fun ones. Before asking more in the comments, see if your answers are already here by clicking labels under posts, for example "stairs," links in posts, archives at right, or in the Fitness Fixer Index.

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Photo 1 by doctor paradox
Photo 2 by Jolie

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.