Stairs or Elevator?

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Sometimes good choices are obvious.

It seems straightforward that consuming broccoli is better than eating donuts. But in the case of someone who is experiencing an episode of dangerously low blood sugar, a bite of broccoli isn’t going to help.

Likewise, when faced with the decision to take the stairs or take an elevator, it would seem that the best choice is clear. There are countless reasons to walk more and not many reasons to support being sedentary.

However, what if your knee hurts every time you take the stairs?

Or what if your knee doesn’t hurt during stair climbing, but you notice it aches later?

When does being more sedentary outweigh the benefits of being active?

When is it a good choice to take the elevator?

For my clients with knee pain, I often recommend that they temporarily avoid stairs. Frequently, they protest:

“Isn’t it healthy for me to take the stairs?”

“Won’t I get weaker if I avoid the stairs?”

If you have knee pain when taking the stairs-- or if you have pain after taking the stairs-- it means that you do not have enough leg strength.

But if you can perform a partial squat on each leg repetitively--with good form and without pain--then you’re probably sufficiently strong. In this case, taking the stairs is likely a good choice.

When stair climbing is painful and you want to get stronger, you must perform exercises that use less than all of your body weight.

Think about it this way: if you wanted to develop more upper body strength, you wouldn’t struggle to keep lifting a weight that causes pain; rather, you would use a lighter weight--one that you can lift with good form and without pain. And over time, you would gradually use a heavier and heavier weight until you worked up to your goal. The same is true for your lower body. (I’ve written about this previously here.)

If you can’t squat using all of your body weight, then you will need to use a portion of your body weight and gradually increase it. This type of exercise typically requires equipment like a pool or a variable incline plane.

While taking the elevator may not be a good long-term choice, it can be an essential part of preventing pain and injury-- particularly if you’re also performing appropriate strengthening exercises.

Good choices are an essential aspect of active living, but they aren’t always obvious.

For more information on safely strengthening your knees, read How to Grow Strong Knee Joints and Can You Rebuild Knee Cartilage?

For help identifying good choices to support your active life-- and to determine if we may be a good fit to work together-- schedule a Strategy Session by clicking here.

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#strength #choices #exercise #injuryprevention #strengthening

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