Activity, Lifestyle

Tackling the dreaded steps!

Hey Supporters!

I am on vacation this week!  For the last 25 years, my family has rented a house at the beach in Nags Head, NC.  It is an amazing tradition, started by my grandmother that just allows us all to get together, catch up, and create awesome memories.  This year, we have 20 of us coming from 5 states and my sister is coming from Europe!

Because we have grown so much as a family, we needed a bigger house this year.  So as I walked in with my suitcase the first thing I noticed was STEPS, STEPS, STEPS!  This house is THREE STORIES with different rooms on different levels.  My room is on the second floor, the kitchen and living room is on the 3rd floor, the game room and beach access is on the 1st floor. And most importantly, the bar is on the 1st floor!  There are steps outside to get in the house as well  So our family is still trying to figure out where to put everything so we don’t have to go up and down over and over again.

Some of you may be cringing at the thought of this scenario; being stuck in a house for a week surrounded by stairs!  But it inspired me to write this post because I know how challenging that is for some of you.  So I’m going to tell you my secrets of how I teach my patients to get better with steps!

Don't let stairs defeat you!
Don’t let stairs defeat you!
  • Start small.  I start my patients with a very small step.  Sometimes even 2 inches high if I have to.  We practice mastering that level until they get strong enough and their pain decreases to move to the next height.
  • Make sure you aren’t cheating!  It’s very easy to use the other leg to help you bounce up to the step, especially if you have pain.  Try and hold your toes up on the foot that you aren’t stepping up with.  Sometimes that helps you make sure you are only using the step up leg.
  • Gradually build.  Once you master the small step, increase it by 2 inches.  As you get stronger, it should continue to get easier.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!  In order to build the strength in your muscles, you have to do lots of repetitions.  Start with 10-15, then work up to 25 at a time.  Once you can do 25 with not a lot of struggle or pain, then it’s time to up the size!
  • Don’t forget to work on stepping down.  Stepping down is usually harder than stepping up.  That’s because it’s a different type of strength.  I often have patients that are very strong with stepping up, but struggle stepping down.  When stepping down, you have to work on controlling your knee bend when you are lowering.  Same concept though, start with a low step and work your way up.
  • Put it all together.  Once you work on each leg individually, then work to put it together by going up and down the steps, alternating each foot.  Focus on stepping up and down equally with each leg.
  • If it’s still painful, seek some help.  You may need some additional exercise and stretches to help you.  Physical therapy can be very helpful in reducing your pain, improving your strength, and increasing your mobility.

So there you have it joint supporters!  My secrets in surviving and tackling stairs!  I hope that some of this information will help you get stronger and keep going.  I want to hear from you!  Please let me know how you’re doing at

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