I was talking to my mother the other day and she was telling me all about how she walks on her lunch hour at work and then again at night with my father before dinner. She mentioned that when she walks at work, she goes up the stairs, down the hallway and then up to the next floor until 30 minutes have passed. She said that she feels pain in her knees while going up the steps. I knew it was a usage pattern, so walked her through where her body should be in space and that's exactly what I'm going to share with you in a minute.
Going up the stairs is the same body position as doing a squat. Did you know that? I am all about using your body as much as possible throughout the day instead of feeling like you have to hit the gym 5 out of 7 days a week. If you are one of those people who likes to get more bang for their buck, use stairs to your advantage and hit the gym less. Here are things to think about when you are taking the stairs.
1. Make sure your toes are forward on both feet. Most of us have our toes out to the side to varying degrees. When that happens, we are rotating from the glutes and all the brunt goes to the low back.
2. Instead of walking in your tippy toes, use a flat foot and have your whole foot on the step. Not all steps will cover the space for your entire foot, but step as if they do. When you put all your weight on the front of the foot, the stress immediately goes to your knees. By using the whole foot, the weight can be evenly distributed.
3. Push down on your heels to bring your opposite foot to the next step. If you are really engaging, you will feel gluteus maximus engage. If your not sure, use your hands for some feedback.
4. Keep your torso upright. Just like in a squat, there is no need to lean forward. Let your body work for you and keep your shoulders over your hips.
5. Bring your belly button to your spine. This engages transverse abdominus which acts like a girdle to cinch the waist and support the low back. This will also aid in keeping your torso upright.
Let me know how it goes when you try it out! You could be maximizing your body and your day by taking 10 minutes to walk up the stairs. It's a dynamic exercise that can work most of your muscles when done right. Maybe you can actually use those extra 10-30 minutes you would have spent at the gym to catch up with a friend or enjoy some of this beautiful sunshine in the park. Sending you deep cleansing breaths and a spring in your step!