Stair climbing is an excellent way to burn calories, lift your bootie and get ready for that short skirt you've been eying. Before you throw in the towel due to sore leg muscles, it's important to know if the soreness you're experiencing is normal or requires a doctor's attention. You can burn approximately 500 calories per hour with stair climbing for a loss of about 1 pound per week when you use the stair climber daily.
Stair Climbing Considerations
Take time to see the doctor before you begin a new stair climbing routine. Before you step onto the stair climber, warm up your body. A five- to 10-minute walk or an equal amount of time spent marching or jogging in place helps to prepare your leg muscles for more vigorous activity. Once you get on the stair climber, start out slowly and increase your pace every five minutes. After 20 minutes on the stair climber return to just about your starting pace, and work your way up to a faster rate again. Slow down for the last 10 minutes so you're moving at a pace that's more relaxed than your starting pace -- so your breathing and heart rate can return to normal.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
It's normal to feel some muscle soreness and stiffness within the first 24 to 48 hours after using the stair climber, especially if you haven't exercised or used a stair climber in a while. This type of muscle soreness -- known as Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness (DOMS) -- is felt predominantly in the muscles used during stair climbing, such as your glutes, quads and calves. As your muscles become more familiar with stair climbing, you'll be less likely to develop DOMS. Within 96 hours, your sore muscles will feel better, but you can continue moderate cardio activity even while your legs are feeling stiff.
Muscle soreness from DOMS generally affects your muscles bilaterally, meaning that if you worked both quads, both quads will feel sore. You know you've got problems, for example, if only one quad is sore and the pain is acute. This kind of muscle soreness can indicate a strained muscle or some other leg injury. When you feel this type of soreness or pain, it's time to see your doctor before you continue with your stair climbing routine.
Dealing with Sore Leg Muscles
DOMS can be an inconvenience, but it doesn't need to be an excuse for ditching the stair climber for good. Ice your sore leg muscles three times per day for 15 to 20 minutes for the first couple days. Take a day off from exercise, if you feel you need it, but it can be just as beneficial to engage in moderate cardio activity such as a leisurely walk. Do light stretches, such as quad stretches, lunges and calf raises, to loosen the muscles. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds without bouncing.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.