The Proper Posture When Climbing Down the Stairs
Proper body mechanics are very important in everyday life. You should strive to keep proper posture when sitting, standing, walking and climbing stairs to minimize possible injuries to the joints and muscles of the body. Educating yourself on the proper posture for sitting, standing and navigating stairs can help you stay active and reduce the possibility of breaking bones or sustaining an injury that could lead to a permanent disability.
Stand at the top of the stairs with your body in the proper standing posture. You should be able to draw an imaginary straight line through your body that would include the following points: the crown of the head, the neck, the shoulder, the hip, the knee and the ankle. These points would make a straight line if you were looking at your body sideways in a mirror. Maintain this position while going down the stairs by making sure your head is held high, your shoulder blades are pinched together and your chin and abdomen are pulled in toward your body's center.
Count the number of steps in the flight. Knowing how many steps you need to walk down will allow you to keep your line of vision pointed straight ahead, keeping your body in good posture. If you must look down, glance down quickly, but avoid walking down the entire flight of stairs while looking at your feet. This will cause your spine to curve and can result in back pain. Walk down the flight of stairs while looking directly ahead, counting each step as you take it until you reach the bottom.
Grasp the handrail with one hand. The handrail's function is to help keep you from falling if you lose your balance while on the stairs. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, you should not use the handrail to pull yourself up and down the stairs, but rather rest your hand on it lightly to provide yourself with stability.
Point your feet in the direction you will be walking, making sure they point in the same direction. Your feet should remain parallel when walking down stairs. It is important to place your foot flat on the step before lifting the rear foot and bringing it down to the next step to avoid tripping or falling down the stairs. Your entire foot should be on the step before you start to take another step.
Step onto the first stair, then step with the other foot onto the next step in the flight. If the steps are too large, or you do not feel stable enough, you may choose to place the second foot on the same step as the first before moving on to the next step.
Step with the injured leg first if you are descending stairs with an injured leg. Place the uninjured leg on the same step as the injured leg before taking a second step.
Don't try to go down stairs with your hands full. You should always have one hand on the handrail in case you slip or start to fall.
- Cleveland Clinic. Stair climbing with an injured or weak leg. Updated July 24, 2014.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Preventing falls among the elderly. Rosemont, IL: AAOS; February 2018.
- Warwick H, George A, Howell C, et al. Immediate physical therapy following total joint arthroplasty: Barriers and impact on short-term outcomes. Advances in Orthoped. 2019;2019:6051476. doi:10.1155/2019/6051476.
- Step with the injured leg first if you are descending stairs with an injured leg. Place the uninjured leg on the same step as the injured leg before taking a second step.
- Don't try to go down stairs with your hands full. You should always have one hand on the handrail in case you slip or start to fall.
Based in Dayton, Ohio, Sari Hardyal has been writing fitness, sports, entertainment and health-related articles for more than five years. Hardyal holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Miami University and is pursuing her master's degree in occupational therapy and her doctorate in physical therapy. She is a certified personal trainer with the National Federation of Professional Trainers.