Do You Get Knee Pain Going Up And Down Stairs?

Learn To Go Up And Down Stairs Safely & Confidently Without Knee Pain!

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Stairs a a common part of our everyday lives and for those experiencing knee pain a simple walk up the stairs isn’t always simple nor easy! 

If you struggle with knee pain you know how limiting this can feel! The knee pain could be  on the outside of the knee, or pain on the inner part of the knee, or front of the knee pain, 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 get out of knee pain and avoid surgeries even if they’ve been told that they have knee arthritis or have "bone-on-bone" on their x-ray. Oftentimes small adjustments to how you move, like what we’re going to explore here, that can make HUGE difference to how your knees feel walking up and down stairs.

If you consider how many times you’ve walked up and down stairs in your life, these little changes add up over time, and can eventually cause knee pain, or the feeling like your knee may give out going up, or particularly when going down stairs. 

Small Changes Make A Big Difference!

So what are the best ways to walk up and down stairs to minimize knee pain? First, let’s look at HOW you are placing your foot on each stair. I see this all the time that when people with knee pain start to walk up a stair they place their toes on the stair first. Putting weight on the toes first activates the thigh muscles, which puts pressure on your knee cap that pushes it down 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 or give out on you. Chances are it probably won’t, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to go up and down stairs safely, confidently, and without knee pain? 

Well, there is! If you can place your WHOLE FOOT on the stair and shift your weight toward the BACK OUTSIDE EDGE OF YOUR FOOT you’ll activate your glutes which are your very strong 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 forward with greater ease and without compressing your knee cap.

Another place I see commonly out of alignment with patients with knee pain is their KNEE AND FOOT POSITIONING on the stair. 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 that to be a vertical line so when you step up, you are 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 foot in the heel. 

Now the foot itself plays a big role in this as well! When your knee falls inward it causes the foot to flatten or to "pronate". If the knee is falling in, it could be caused by a weakness in the hips or even an old back issue that never completely resolved (even if it doesn't hurt anymore). Intentionally putting an arch in the foot as you place it on the stair- scrunching up the middle making a little dome shape under the inside part of the foot- will help you keep your knee and thigh in alignment as you step up. 

So In Summary:

  1. 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 compress your knee cap and can cause a bone-on-bone pain sensation.
  2. 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.
  3. Make sure your knee is aligned directly OVER your foot and not falling inward. That can cause inner and outer knee pain, as your leg isn’t properly set to support your body weight. Think of a pillar of a building- we want that straight!
  4. 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. 
  5. Keep in mind if there is misalignment of the foot there could be another 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 the pain, it would be best to have them checked out before considering any type of knee surgery 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!

Want More Useful Tips on How To Keep Your Knees Healthy

Download our FREE Guide full of self-help tips to overcome knee arthritis and prevent or delay the need for knee replacement, even if you've been told that your knee is "bone-on-bone"!

Knee Arthritis Guide Prevent or Delay Knee Replacement Movement 4 Life Physical Therapy St. Louis MO 63011 Gladly Serving Ballwin, Manchester, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Ellisville, and St. Louis County

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