This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Generations Magazine.
In our younger years we didn’t think twice about sprinting up and down steps. As we age, however, climbing a flight of stairs can often seem like scaling a mountainside due to limited mobility and pain.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the force on each knee is 2 – 3 times your body weight when you go up and down stairs.
So, if knee or back pain has you avoiding stairs, follow these simple steps to regain your independence and freedom of movement.
Stand tall (A) and tighten your core muscles to protect your spine, place one hand on the rail to maintain balance and set your entire foot on the step (B).
As you step up, apply more weight through your heel rather than your toes and engage your buttock muscles as you straighten your leg to move up on the step.
Try to avoid leaning forward and pulling yourself up using the hand-rail, instead keep the knee aligned with your toes (C) and focus on the larger muscles of the hip (hamstrings and gluteals) to take the pressure off the knee joint.
Following these simple tips may not immediately resolve your pain, but with practice and strengthening your core and lower extremity muscles as you use correct mechanics, you will allow your body to adapt so that you can enjoy taking the stairs every day.