Most people with knee problems find climbing stairs painful. While taking the stairs is a great exercise for your health, it does put a lot of stress on the knees.
Since the knee joint is complex, a range of factors can lead to damage and pain, including injury, ruptured ligament, torn cartilage, or medical conditions, including arthritis.
Chondromalacia, also known as runner’s knee, can specifically cause knee pain when climbing stairs. This condition happens as a result of damage to the cartilage under the kneecap - here, the cartilage under the kneecap softens and wears away.
If you suffer from arthritis or other joint problems that make stairs a challenge, it may be time to consult with your physician.
Many things can cause knee pain when going upstairs. Two of the most common are chondromalacia patella (overuse injury) and arthritis.
One potential cause of knee pain when climbing stairs, but not when walking is chondromalacia patella, which is the breakdown of cartilage on the underside of the kneecap. Another possible cause is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), which is characterized by pain under or around the kneecap. Osteoarthritis tends to cause knee pain when climbing up or down stairs.
Tips to go up and down stairs with less pain
- Make sure you step onto the stairs with your whole foot and not just your toes. Stepping with just your toes can compress your knee and cause pain.
- Address underlying causes of knee pain when climbing or descending stairs. Often, pain indicates a misalignment, weakness, or injury that is manifesting in knee pain.
- Strengthen your leg muscles. Leg raises are a simple way to make your muscles stronger. Lie on your back with one leg comfortably bent at the knee. Lift your straight leg about six inches off the ground, tighten your thigh muscle, and hold the lifted leg for a few seconds before lowering it back to the floor. Repeat several times, then do the same exercise with your other leg. Your physician or physical therapist can suggest other exercises to target and strengthen your leg muscles.
- Avoid prolonged sitting. When you spend hours at your chair in front of a computer, your knees can become stiff. This makes it even more difficult to tackle the stairs.
According to Doctor Moral Nazrul Islam, "those who have weak knee and weak muscles in thigh or those who have arthritis or knee pain should not climb stairs under any circumstances. However, if a healthy person climbs the stairs, zero point 16 calories of food energy is burned at each step. It may not be appropriate if you have balance problems or pain, weakness in your shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, or feet. If you have heart or lung disease, you should speak with your doctor before starting any type of stair climbing routine."