This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Generations Magazine.

Knee pain, while descending stairs is often due to the force on your kneecap (patella), which studies show, is 3.5 X your body weight. If you weigh 140lbs, the force on your patella can be as much as 490lbs! That is a lot of stress on your knee, and the pain will be magnified if you have weak muscles or degeneration of the cartilage in the joint.

Strengthening the hip and knee, specifically, the larger gluteal and quadriceps muscles will help absorb the force that travels through the knee. Stretching tight muscles at the side and back of the thigh, as well as the calf, can help prevent tracking problems of the patella.

This exercise will help reduce pain when going downstairs, as it uses the proper mechanics to build the correct muscles.

  1. Begin by standing tall on a step or platform sideways, holding onto a stable object.
  2. Slowly lower one leg over the outer edge and squat down, touching your toe to the ground.
  3. Keep upright, knee aligned over your first and second toe.
  4. Sit your bottom back when squatting, with more weight on the heel of the bent leg. Return to standing tall.