Stair Negotiation Physics

Many people with pain in the front of their knee comment that going down stairs is more challenging and painful than going up. Let’s take a quick look at why that is!

In the images below, Dr. Scott compares the forces at work when going up vs. down a step. The yellow arrow indicates the force of gravity and the green arrow is the force placed through the kneecap. A larger arrow = greater force, and as you can see the higher degree of knee bend when going down creates a higher force, and thus more stress, on the knee. This can cause increased pain and make descending steps quite challenging for those with a painful knee condition.

Written by Dr. Scott Newberry

Dr. Scott going up the step
Dr. Scott going down the step

Is Muscle Soreness Normal After Exercise?

The answer is YES! Muscle soreness after exercise is called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This happens when you exercise a muscle that has not been used stressfully in awhile. The soreness results from tearing and or stress on the muscle fibers and as the body repairs these small tears your muscles become stronger. After exercise, you will normally feel muscle soreness anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after the activity. The intensity of the muscle soreness you experience will depend on how intense your workout was and if that muscle group has experienced a workout before of this variety/intensity.

If your symptoms of muscle soreness linger longer than 72 hours and either get worse or stay the same, then you want to consult with a medical professional. The reason for this is your exercise possibly caused a muscle strain, ligamentous sprain, or injury.

How To Make Consistent Exercise Goals That Stick

With the new year upon us, everyone is setting out to start on those New Year’s Resolutions. Every year, exercise and practicing healthier habits are always in the top few resolutions and so we at Harbor PT want to give you some tips on how to make those resolutions into habits and help you create a healthier and happier life!

1. Set realistic goals – while the goal of going to the gym 7 days a week sounds great, it is best to be honest with yourself  and set goals based on your daily schedule and current fitness/health level. Setting too lofty of a goal can sometimes become overwhelming and lead to discouragement or can lead to injury.

2. Join a class- finding a form of exercise that works for you is important and joining a class can make exercise fun, hold you accountable, and teach you safe exercise habits all while being in a group of people with similar interests and goals.

3. Have a fitness buddy- setting fitness/health goals with a friend can make working toward your goals less intimidating and more enjoyable and make you more accountable. You don’t necessarily have to make the same exact goals, but even working toward similar goals as a team can help make the process more effective and enjoyable.

4. Start small- you can set a big goal for yourself, but as stated above, it is important to be realistic and to be honest while setting your goals. If you want to set that big goal, try breaking down that goal into smaller milestones; this will help keep you motivated while making progress. 

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help- starting something new is exciting but it can also be a little intimidating. But there are always people around to help you reach your goals. Whether that be a friend to help motivate you, a dietician to help you make smart choices in changing your nutrition, a personal trainer to help ensure safe exercise, or a physical therapist to help address a current/chronic injury so that you can continue exercising safely, there is always help available, so use it to your advantage.

Written by: Dr. Taylor Ryan, staff physical therapist at HPT