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Tips on improving your health

The apples and pears and how to save your knees

Having trouble with your knees?

Coming down the stairs (get it?) is an everyday exercise that if undertaken correctly can mean the difference between having knees potentially lasting a lifetime, or on the other hand, knees that can get sorer and sorer. And, at the same time, your quadriceps muscles get weaker and weaker which compounds the problem.

It's hard work on your knee joints coming down stairs - it's so much harder on them than going up stairs.

Coming down stairs, your kneecap or patella (lat.= little pan) sort of acts like a brake so that your descent does not become an uncontrollable gravity flight to the bottom of the stairs.

To test if you are descending correctly try coming down the stairs slowly. If you can't and you tend to "collapse" your weight-bearing leg just before your other foot lands on the next step, you may be contributing to increased wear and tear behind the patella, future knee pain and other degenerative problems.

To regain the health of your knees and the strength in your quadriceps, try these exercise tips and practise them regularly. Hang on to the hand railing with one hand when practising these exercises.

1) Make sure your feet are  a little less than shoulder-width apart and turn them ever so slightly outwards.

2) Point your knees straight ahead and when coming down the stairs make sure your knees do not collapse inwards towards the other knee or outwards towards the wall.

Incorrect alignment (above)


Correct alignment (above)

3) When lowering your foot onto the next step make sure that the weight-bearing leg lowers your weight slowly and does not "collapse" when your lower foot is almost on the next step. When you are able to control this movement of lowering your foot down slowly you are minimising the wear and tear that occurs every day behind your kneecap and your knees will last much longer and become less painful.

4) TIP: keep your pelvis as level as you can and use your knee more to descend the stairs.

5) An added bonus to this exercise is your balance will gradually improve.


If your knees are painful coming downstairs and you wish to discuss this exercise please phone Southside Physiotherapy and discuss this matter with one of our experienced physiotherapists.



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