Running stairs is an effective workout for cardio and leg strengthening, plus you don’t have to fork out money on expensive equipment such as a stair runner. High-impact exercise like running can affect bone health, including your knees. Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PPS, also known as Runner’s Knee, causes stress in the knee when you run frequently. By learning the effects of running up stairs on your knees, you can avoid injuries and improve your health.
Building the major muscles in your legs can help strengthen and protect your knees from injury. Tight calf and hamstring muscles puts pressure on your knees. Weak thigh muscles, or quadriceps, can cause your kneecap to move out-of-place while running. Running stairs helps you strengthen these muscles surrounding your knee, which helps protect them from injuries such as PPS. By climbing stairs, you are propelling your body forward and upward, which engages more of your muscles than regular running on a flat surface.
Cardio activity such as running is high impact and is effective for strengthening your bones, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. However, for some older adults, the impact on the bones is too much and may cause adverse effects, such as back pain or knee pain. Running stairs can put pressure on your knees, applying a force that is equivalent to four times your body weight. If you don’t suffer from any bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis, stair climbing is safe, and can strengthen your knees and help prevent bone disease.
Running stairs frequently can lead to serious injuries in the knees, if you have arthritis in the area. The lack of cartilage in the knees can cause achy, creaky or stiff knees. Running stairs wears out the knees further, which may worsen symptoms. Opt for a low-impact cardio workout such as swimming or walking, if you have arthritis or osteoporosis.
You can effectively manage or prevent several knee-related injuries by taking precaution. Run on cushioned stairs and perform a maximum of three workout sessions per week. Ice pack your knees when you experience pain in the area and rest it for at least two days. Purchase a pair of running shoes that cushion your arches and joints. Replace worn out running shoes or have them repaired.
Frank Yemi has been a professional writer since 2007, and has contributed to several health and fitness magazines. He has worked as a medical fact checker and sports nutritionist in the United Kingdom. Yemi holds a Bachelor of Science in medical physiology, as well as a Master of Science in applied sports nutrition.