Can all that walking up and down a staircase possibly cause your knees to become arthritic?

And what about using a staircase or stepping machine for exercise?

“Take the stairs instead of the elevator,” you’ve probably heard or read dozens of times. And after getting sick of the treadmill or elliptical, perhaps the revolving staircase has become pretty enticing lately.

“Most studies encourage more frequent activity throughout the day,” says Jason Dapore, DO, who specializes in sports medicine, Spine Sport and Joint Center, Columbus, OH.

Dr. Dapore continues, “This includes more frequent walking and staying as active as you can throughout the day.

“Stairs are a great way to keep your legs in shape and give you quick bouts of exercise.

“Frequent use of stairs when added gradually to a daily schedule should not lead to osteoarthritis. The key is to allow your body time to accommodate to the new activity.”

Though climbing stairs can be painful to someone who already has osteoarthritis in their knees, this does not mean that frequent going up and down stairs can cause, or increase the risk of developing, osteoarthritis in the knees (or hips).

If you have a staircase in the house, you obviously have no choice but to use it, and you are encouraged to use it electively.

For example, during TV commercial breaks, briskly go up and down the stairs.

Or, every 30 to 45 minutes if you’re at the computer, take a break and spend a few minutes going up and down the stairs.

If your gym has a revolving staircase, try it out. Practice good posture. This means don’t drape your body on the machine.

Few people actually use the revolving staircase with good form, that is, positioned upright, shoulders relaxed, and not holding onto the rails.

Yes, the rails are there, and use them to board and exit the machine.

Once on, set the speed for slow, and begin stepping, and take your hands off the rails.

If the stepping is difficult without holding on, then slow down the stair speed.

A hands-free motion will force you into proper posture and natural hip movement.

Shutterstock/Maksym Poriechkin

The knees will then absorb the movement in a natural way. This is all good for your body.

If you want more of a cardio challenge, speed up the step revolver, but continue keeping your hands at your sides if possible. If not, again, slow the revolving speed.

Every single person who places their hands on the rails exhibits poor or crooked posture.

At the mall, avoid the escalator. Instead, take the stairs…which are never crowded. Wherever there is a staircase, and an elevator, choose the staircase.

Do not worry about osteoarthritis of the knees being caused by frequent use of a staircase.

Dr. Dapore is a fellowship-trained sports medicine physician, providing comprehensive, non-operative solutions for acute sports injuries.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


Top image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions