If You Get Knee Pain Going Up And Down Stairs, Watch The Video Below To Learn Easy Tips To Go Up And Down Stairs Safely & Confidently Without Knee Pain!
Stop Knee Pain Going Up And Down The Stairs!
Stairs are a common part of our everyday lives. For those experiencing knee pain, a simple walk up or down the stairs isn’t always simple nor easy!
If you struggle with knee pain, then you know how limiting this can feel! The knee pain could be of the outside of the knee, pain on the inner part of the knee, on the front of the knee, or even a situation like knee arthritis (where you may be told you are "bone-on-bone" and may have to have a total knee replacement!) We love helping people relieve their knee pain and avoid surgeries, even if they’ve been told that they have knee arthritis or have "bone-on-bone" show up on their x-ray. Oftentimes, small changes in how you move can make a HUGE difference on how your knees feel walking up and down the stairs:
If you consider how many times you’ve walked up and down the stairs in your life, these little changes add up over time. It can eventually cause knee pain, or the feeling that your knee may give out going up, or particularly when going down the stairs.
Small Changes Makes A Big Difference In Knee Pain Going Up The Stairs
So what are the best ways to ease knee pain going up the stairs? First, let’s look at HOW you place your foot on each stair. I commonly find that when people have knee pain going up the stairs, they place their toes on the stair first. Putting weight on your toes first activates the thigh muscles ("quadriceps" muscles), which puts pressure on your knee cap and pushes it up against your thigh bone. This can create a grinding, "bone-on-bone" kind of pain. It may feel like your knee is going to lock up or give out on you. Chances are it probably won’t, but it can be a scary feeling that your knee is going to give out on you when you're going up, or particularly going down stairs... especially if you've fallen on the stairs before.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to go up and down the stairs safely, confidently, and without knee pain?
Well, there is!
If you can place your WHOLE FOOT on each stair and shift your weight toward the BACK OUTSIDE EDGE OF YOUR FOOT, then you’ll activate your glutes (a.ka. your "butt muscles"). If you lean forward as you place your foot on the stair, you can use your hips and buttock muscles to propel your body up the stairs without knee pain.
Another place I commonly see when people have knee pain going up the stairs is a misalignment of the knee and foot. When you place your foot on the stair, the knee should align directly over the foot without falling inward. Like a pillar that supports a building, we want your leg to be a vertical line, so when you step up, your body is well-supported. Having a knee and leg that falls in toward the midline of the body can cause pain on the inner or outer part of the knee easily. We correct this by placing weight on the OUTSIDE of the heel.
Now, your foot itself plays a big role in this as well! When your knee falls inward it causes your foot to flatten or to "pronate". If your knee is falling in, it could be caused by weakness in your hips or even an old back issue that never completely resolved (even if it doesn't hurt anymore). Intentionally putting an arch in your foot as you place it on the stair, (by scrunching your toes and making a little dome shape under the inside part of the foot) will help you keep your knee and thigh in alignment and avoid knee pain going up the stairs.
If it feels new or difficult for you to keep your foot/arch lifted, then you may benefit from wearing shoes with good arch support - even inside the house. (You can have a special "inside" pair of shoes if you're worried about dirt.) Make sure the shoes have good arch support built in, or put in an off-the-shelf orthotic or custom orthotic in them to help you keep your arch lifted and to keep your hip and knee in good alignment to prevent knee pain when going up the stairs.
Follow These Tips To Relieve Knee Pain Going Up The Stairs:
- Place your WHOLE FOOT on the stair, not just your toes. When you place just your toes on the stair, you activate your thigh muscles which compresses your knee cap and can cause a bone-on-bone pain sensation.
- Placing weight on your whole foot and pushing through the OUTSIDE OF THE HEEL activates your butt muscles, which allows you to push up with greater efficiency.
- Make sure your knee is aligned directly OVER your foot and not falling inward. That can cause inner and outer knee pain going up the stairs since your leg isn’t properly aligned to support your body weight.
- As you place your foot on the stair, create an arch in the foot by scrunching the middle of your foot up and creating a small dome under the inner bottom of the foot. That will direct weight to the OUTSIDE of your foot and especially into your heel.
- Keep in mind, if there's misalignment of the foot, then there could be some weakness in the hips or even the back that’s contributing to the pain. If no one has ever ruled these out as factors contributing to your knee pain, it would be wise to have them checked out before considering any type of knee surgery or other invasive treatment. Get your knee pain checked out for FREE and discover the root causes contributing to your pain by requesting a FREE Discovery Visit in the office, or a Telehealth Virtual Visit online.
But What If My Knee Hurts Going Down Stairs But Not Up?
For many people who suffer from knee pain, their knee hurts going down the stairs, but not up the stairs. This seems counter-intuitive because you would think that going down would be easier. After all, gravity is helping you when you go down the stairs, but you have to fight gravity going up the stairs. A few simple changes makes going down the stairs much easier though!
Follow These Tips To Relieve Knee Pain When Going Down The Stairs:
- Place the ball of your foot and your toes slightly over the edge of the step. This allows you to "roll over" the edge of the step so your knee doesn't have to bend as much. This is particularly helpful in relieving knee pain going down the stairs if you have a stiff ankle joint or tight calves.
- Going down the stairs fast is actually MUCH easier than going down them slow. When you just let your knee unlock and drop down the the stairs, the leg that you are standing on doesn't have to do any work. Gravity literally pulls you down to the next step. But it can be scary to do this, especially when you have knee pain going down the stairs because you have to trust that the other leg is going to catch you. There is an element of fear, so you go down the stairs slowly, but this actually requires the leg that you're standing on and bending to have to fight gravity, which then causes the knee to hurt and feel unstable, which makes you even more fearful! So, you go down the stairs even more guarded the next time, but that causes even more knee pain going down the stairs. But if you can get over the fear and just try to go down the stairs faster, it's likely that you'll notice an instant improvement in your knee pain going down the stairs!
- As mentioned above, hip weakness and/or ankle flexibility can be a considerable factor in knee pain when going down the stairs. Often the knee is just the thing in the middle of these two problems (the hip and the ankle) that's getting beat up. If no one has ever ruled out your hip or ankle out as factors contributing to your knee pain, we'd be happy to offer you a FREE Discovery Visit in the office, or a Telehealth Virtual Visit online so that you can find out what's wrong, and what you can do to be able to go up and down the stairs without knee pain!
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Do You Get Knee Pain When Squatting? Check Our our post on "How To Squat Without Knee Pain"!