Knee Wobbles When Climbing Stairs

Ellen Grant
• Monday, 17 January, 2022
• 8 min read

It has many muscles that cross the knee joint to help control its movement while walking, running, squatting, or going up and down stairs. The internal components of the knee include several strong ligament structures that prevent excessive shearing motions.

causes stairs climbing kneepain pain knee difficulty
(Source: www.kneepain.com)


The internal ligaments and structural supports of the knee are the last line of defense against the damaging shearing movements. Rather, it is usually the result of chronic repetitive motions and movements that cause micro tearing and damage to the soft tissues, eventually leading to larger injuries.

These movements place increased stress on the knee and require greater stabilization from all the muscles. Treatment improves strength, endurance, and stability to reduce the stress and strain on the knee.

Knee joint movement dysfunction is increased whenever any of the soft tissues become excessively overwhelmed and injured. Anatomy of the Knee Joint The large femur sits atop the tibia, much like two pillars stacked on top of each other.

At the end of the femur are two large condoles with rounded edges that allow for the rocking or hinging motion associated with knee movement. Several large stabilizing ligaments on the inside and outside the knee prevent excessive forward and backwards movements.

Sesamoid bones act as a pulley system to change the direction of forces, in this case from the quadriceps muscle to the tibia. Over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as recommended by your doctor can help reduce pain and inflammation.

climbing moves knee hook move advanced bar rock
(Source: betatogether.com)

In severe cases that involve multiple joint regions, muscle relaxers or oral steroids can be given. Pain management is not usually required unless stronger medications or joint injections are involved in treatment.

Severe cases may utilize advanced imaging to rule out bone fractures, edema, nerve entrapment, tendon or muscle ruptures. Nerve conduction velocity (CV) testing may be utilized in cases that also involve muscle, sensory or reflex loss.

These treatments increase blood flow, decrease muscle spasms, enhance flexibility, speed healing, and promote proper tissue repair. Iliotibial band Syndrome is common in runners who develop the injury because of weakness and poor stabilization of the leg and hip muscles.

Proprioception exercises help teach the muscles how to work together again to stabilize the knee during walking or running. Class IV cold lasers emit specific wavelengths of energy that enhance the body's healing mechanisms while decreasing inflammation around the knee.

Vibration plates enhance neuromuscular learning throughout the ankle, knee, foot, hip, and back muscles. Additional strength exercises can be found on the hip, knee, and foot strengthening pages.

healthline knee step surgery replacement climbing fast workout
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Our Chandler Chiropractic & Physical Therapy clinic treats patients with a variety of muscle, tendon, joint, and ligament injuries. We work with all ages and abilities of the residents in Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler AZ.

I’ll sing the Hoke poke and change the key on each step. Battles with staircases rage on across households every single day.

And the variations on how to get up and down those steps would make a Texas Hold em card counter spinning in circles. Thankfully, strengthening your knee using a few key exercises can make climbing up or downstairs easier and pain-free.

When your 3-year-old grand baby Emma is cuddling on your lap, she’s resting on your quads. They are also great “hand warmers” after shoveling the driveway this winter.

I’ll give you some hints on how to use your rump for pain-free stair climbing, but we have one more muscle to discuss. Any personal trainer will proclaim “keep your core tight”.

boulder geologist knee
(Source: www.walkhighlands.co.uk)

When you tighten your core you help tilt your pelvis up just a smudge. When you tighten your core, you help tilt the seesaw back toward a neutral position.

This can ease pressure on several of the muscles and nerves that travel in and through your knee. Stay with me, and I’ll teach you a handful of exercises to bring even greater balance to your pelvis but let me address a few common questions about knee pain and stairs first.

When you go down the stairs, you are placing direct stress on a straightened knee joint. If you have conditions like chondromalacia (cartilage under the knee cap that has deteriorated) or osteoarthritis (inflammation inside the joint), it can be especially painful.

Well if you have less cushion inside your knee, the stress from your weight stepping down can cause pain. When you go up the stairs, you place indirect stress on a bent joint.

The tendons and ligaments in your knee have to stretch in order to get into the next step. Isometric exercise can improve symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

(Source: www.myprotein.dk)

And of course, strengthen the entire knee making climbing stairs much easier. I think it might have started with my great uncle Al, but I can’t be sure about that.

Mini dosages of stairs can help you prepare for the real thing. So you are training your body to fire up the right muscles when you practice sideways.

Now that your foot is on the step or phone book, lift your body up. Try to press up while putting pressure on the outer portion of your heel.

By thinking about putting pressure on the outer portion, this will help keep your ankle in alignment and fire up your rump perfectly. Drive your knees outward (more on this in the “Gold Nugget Tips” section below.

So tightening them will help build strength, in proper form and prepare you for “game day” aka, your staircase. Do this exercise in a controlled manner 10 times before switching to the other leg.

ankle sprains climbing sprain lateral exercise prevent bouldering band resistance rock preventing exericse 1a
(Source: theclimbingdoctor.com)

This will help you build strength around your knee and prepare you for stair climbing. This exercise is weight-bearing, so it helps build stronger bone density and strength.

But since it’s an isometric (you are not moving the joint), it puts less stress on the knee. Sit down in a chair with your spine neutral (not slumped over and not arched back).

Push your heels into the ground while simultaneously squeezing your glutes. You’ll know you are doing this exercise properly if it feels like you are about to stand up, but not generating enough strength to do it.

Remember when I told you that your glutes are one of the most important muscles for climbing stairs ? Sit in a chair facing a wall with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle.

This exercise is also an isometric stabilizer, so it is safer on the knee joint but strengthens the all-important quadriceps muscle. Here are ten gold nuggets to help you climb or descend stairs like you were floating on air.

Practice these individually, so you build a habit around each of them and your body will remember to do them like brushing your teeth. Drive with your glutes (aka butt muscle) when climbing up.

Make it feel like your glutes are doing all the work to propel you upward. When climbing upward, feel pressure on the outer portion of your foot, especially your heel.

Secondly, when there is a weakness in your knees, they often “wobble” when you are doing difficult movements like stair climbing. When you focus on your weight distribution to such a small degree, it can help minimize the wobbling of your knees.

As my old gym teacher used to preach, Practice doesn’t make perfect. And this doesn’t come from my weird grade-school gym teacher that used to wear clown hair to be funny.

This is from one of the greatest fitness inspirations of all time, the late Jack Balance. When you exercise, you force your body to make small changes and adapt.

At 70 years young, good of’ Jack swam 1.5 miles in strong currents while pulling 70 people on 70 boats. Oh, and I forgot to mention his wrists were handcuffed and his feet were shackled the entire time.

And soon, you’ll catch yourself opening that armor in the attic realizing you floated up those stairs like you were riding on a feather.

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