When going up a staircase at work, I recently realized that my heel barely ever touched the surface of the stairs. At first, I dismissed it, figuring that it just made sense to put the entire foot on the stairs, particularly since I have fairly large feet for my size and not all stairs are deep enough that I can get my whole foot on them. I also think that I probably got into the habit when I had to scale stairs quickly in middle-school (three floor building with limited time in between classes) and was essentially launching myself up the steps, and landing on the ball of my feet let me absorb the impact better. However, with my current stride, I feel like my feet are remaining flexed out at all times, knees bent, such that there isn't any shock absorption going on. Is this an inefficient way to climb stairs? Is it potentially harmful if I continue doing it?

On a side note, I've also found that lately, when climbing stairs more slowly, I find it easier to turn a bit sideways so that my feet are angled on the stairs. It feels more stable. Raising my knees directly in front of me to mount the treads makes me feel like it's disrupting my balance backwards. Could this be related?

1 Answer 1


All of what you've described sounds like normal human movement, and unlikely to harm you; however, a disclosure: these ways (fast and slow) are how I ascend stairs, too.

A minor note: I suspect that your feet are in plantar flexion, not "flexed out". This position, coupled with flexed knees, provides more shock absorption than dorsiflexed feet and extended knees; you could try the latter to convince yourself of this.

  • Indeed, "plantar flexion" is what they're doing, with bent knees. I think you are right that there's probably better potential shock absorption, although in actuality, it feels like there's very little actual bending going on. I suppose that I just feel like I'm moving differently from the other people.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 14:19

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