Stair steppers are cardio machine that specialize in a low-impact workout, but they can still contribute to joint stress. Knee pain can be common if you aren't careful. Use these machines at a low intensity to help prevent knee stress. When used correctly, these machines are an excellent tool in your fitness journey.
Part of the reason stair steppers have a capacity to cause knee strain for women is due to physiology. Multiple factors add up to a greater likelihood of knee injury. Women have wider hips than men, so repeating movements can disalign your kneecaps. Weak quadriceps and hips also contribute to knee strain. To mitigate the effect of weak hips, do exercises such as side-lying leg lifts.
Causes of Knee Pain
Stair steppers contribute to knee pain through repetitive movement and anatomy. Your knees are your body's largest joints -- this makes them more susceptible to injury. The repetition in using a stair stepper stresses the ligaments supporting the knee and wears down the meniscus, which cushions the knee. These injuries can happen to anyone, but women especially should be careful. Women are more likely than men to suffer from knee injuries, which makes correct use of the stair stepper more important.
Reduce Knee Strain
Stair steppers contribute to knee stress, but can still be used safely. Maintaining correct posture, erect spine with shoulders back and torso aligned with hips, reduces the stress placed on your knees. Progress through your workout slowly to give your knees more time to adapt to the repetitive movement. Put your weight on the front of your foot as you move -- moving your foot inward contributes to knee stress.
There are preventative measures to take when using stair steppers. If you have recently suffered a knee injury, avoid stair steppers. Repetitive movement aggravates knee injuries. The presence of pain when using a stair stepper is a sign to cease the exercise. Older women who have joint issues should also avoid stair steppers to prevent further injury. Being aware of your body will help alert you to its signals and keep you from creating or exacerbating injury.
S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.