Is Running Stairs a Useful Training Tool?


Stair Routines have been a standard of many workout programs for who knows how many thousands of years. Stairs are a tremendous training tool to help develop more power and efficiency in your stride. One of the major limiting factors that runners suffer from is a lack of proper muscle sequencing in their stride. To have an efficient stride it requires the proper muscles working in sequence. The stride should be initiated in the muscles surrounding the pelvis such as the iliopsoas and rectus femoris.

The major benefit of the stairs is that the stimulus it gives the muscular system is to lift the knee. Think of how many different strides you see from the various runners on the street as you are driving around town. The differences in all these strides is in relation to the improper muscle sequencing in their stride. Some runners have legs that make circular motion to initiate their stride while others have more of a shuffle. We could go on for hour about the differences in stride patterns and if you want more info on it, follow this running efficiency link to a post we did awhile ago.

The stairs help force the body to initiate the linear movement of running in your hips. If you have some stairs anywhere near your typical running route I highly recommend that you stop and take a few minutes to take advantage of what they have to offer. Start with simple moves like high knee walking. Use about 20-30 stairs and simply walk up with one foot on each stair, lifting that knee as high as you can before you step onto the stair.

Continue to repeat this now going up 2 stairs at a time, then 3 stairs and keep going until the height of the stair is too much for you to do with correct form. Make sure you keep your shoulders up tall throughout the moves and place your hands on your hips.

No take a similar approach to running on the stairs, start with one stair and then work your way up progressively. If you are not currently doing stairs, take the time to add them to your current running program. It will make an impact by helping to apply the stimulus to your muscles that will increase your overall efficiency.

2 Comments on this post


  1. eric said:

    I think stair workouts are under utilized in most high school programs. Every sport could benefit, especially cross country teams and track teams. It would introduce a new stimulus to the runners and help with the efficiency of their stride.

    A lot of cross country courses have hills at some point and when we trained for hills at my high school we just ran a few hills. This did nothing to force knee drive and very little to improve my stride. I wish we would have done more stairs. I realize it would have been difficult with a lot of kids and some might not understand its benefits.

    November 8th, 2009 at 4:55 pm
  2. Scott said:

    I agree Eric, we try to run Stairs often but we typically go inside the school to do it since where we train currently has little access to stairs.

    November 10th, 2009 at 8:58 am


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