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How to Fix Knee Pain With Stairs

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We get it a lot in the clinic, “My knees kill me when I’m going up and down the stairs”. What could this possibly be from and how can it be fixed? In this blog we are going to discuss different types of knee pain, causes, signs/symptoms, and ways to get rid of this annoyance so stairs can stop being a pain. Aside from stairs this pain can start to spread throughout your daily activities. Knee pain can be the reason you are unable to run, ski, hike, compete in a local CrossFit competition, or even play with your kids or grandkids. There are many forms of knee pain both serious and more commonly not so serious. Getting some advice from a knee pain specialist can help you to start the path of learning and understanding of what to do.  Depending on what the nature of the injury was you may be in for an easy road ahead or a slightly longer need for help. Getting an understanding on what the signs and symptoms of your pain are can help you/us to determine what is causing your pain and help determine the best ways to alleviate the pain. To help you understand the different types of injuries that can occur at the knee joint, let’s first discuss what the knee involves. 
Signs and Symptoms Common in Knee Injuries

  • Stiffness
  •  swelling/inflammation
  •  redness/warmth
  • clicking/popping
  • Decrease range of motion (unable to fully bend or straighten)
  • Weakness

Common Knee Injuries

  • strains/tears of the ligaments (ACL, MCL, LCL, PCL)
  • Patellar maltracking (instability of the knee cap causing excessive motion)
  • Muscular injuries surrounding the knee joint 
  • Damage to the cartilage
  • Potential injury to the joints above and below that affect the knee
  • Arthritis 

Ways to Help Reduce Pain with Going Up and Down Stairs

  • Use bigger muscle groups (hamstrings, glutes) rather than dumping everything in to the knee and using just your quadriceps muscles
  • ​Lead with your body rather than your foot (plant your foot on the step lean forward with your trunk (shoulders), and push off the foot
  • Make sure you push your body up towards the sky and not just push your knee backwards as you climb the stairs
  • Place your heel on the step before you step up (if you place your toe down this will put more pressure on the knee)
  • ​Make sure knee is aligned over 2nd toe

Quick Fixes for Knee Pain
It is important to note that seeing a specialist will be the most beneficial way to diagnose your knee pain and start a plan of care to erase it. A specialist will be able to advise you in the right direction so you can start taking the steps to get back to the activities you love, or continue them without pain. Surgery and injections are one form of treatment but they should be used only as a last resort to alleviate the pain. Physical Therapy is the preferred method for knee pain in all but the most severe cases and would include hands on manual techniques, dry needling (if needed and wanted), soft tissue work, joint mobility work, stretching, strengthening, kinesiotaping (if needed), likely working on the hip and the ankle, and whatever else you needed that would get you better. Getting relief won’t take long and many people leave feeling better the first day.  Even if you didn’t leave feeling better the first day it would only take 1-2 more visits max to start noticing improvements. However, starting that first day you would feel better right away knowing what is wrong and having a plan to fix it. 
Other general ideas that can sometimes work are listed below: (Remember without knowing exactly what is wrong you can’t exactly what to do to get rid of your pain.)

  • Foam rolling the quad muscle (front of the thigh can help temporarily) make sure to avoid pain and only roll for about 30-40 seconds. 
  • ​​Stretching the quad muscle: make sure you’re holding on to something for balance, grab the back of your foot with the same hand (or use a stretching strap) pull towards your bottom, stand up straight and hold about 30 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times. 
  • If you notice knee pain that is more acute (just recent in the past few days or month) you can ice the knee joint to decrease inflammation *Do not heat.  If you just ice and don’t move it the knee may become stiff so if you can move without making the pain worse some gentle movement can help. 

If you would like more information on how we might be able to help you get rid of your knee pain please click the button below to schedule a time for a FREE 20 min discovery visit where you can learn what is wrong and what you can do about it to get rid of the pain and get back to everything you need to do.  If you know you are ready to get some help right away you can call us at 720-651-0674 or email at

If You just want some more information on ways you can ease your knee pain then consider downloading our Free Ebook “7 Ways To Ease Your Achy Knees From Stopping Your Favorite Activity” by clicking on the image below. 

The 7 Ways To Help Your Achy Knees

KinetikChain Physical Therapy

We Help People In Denver Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active In Their Favorite Sport/Hobby, Continue Exercising, And Get Back To What They Love To Do.


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