There are many ways to scale stairs: running, hiking, with trekking poles, using handrails. Here are a few technique tips that may help:
Lean, don’t bend
Your posture can affect how muscle groups work together.
Try to maintain posture with a slight lean forward. Imagine an angled line starting from your ankles connecting to your waist. This lean will allow the muscles around your glutes and hips (gluteus maximus, iliopsoas muscle and quadriceps) to do their job. During long stair (or uphill) climbs, it’s okay to vary your posture to fight fatigue.
Bending through the hips, or adopting an overly straight posture is difficult to sustain for long periods, nor it is efficient. You will lose integrity in the muscle connections between your core and lower legs muscles, resulting in muscle groups fatiguing more quickly.
Both abdominal and major thigh muscles attach and connect through your pelvic bones. This link is functionally very important. Keeping your pelvis stable during running and hiking will allow the muscles around the hips to fire properly.
Reduce your stride length
Have you ever tried to move up a step with a tall riser (vertical height) from a distance? It’s much harder if your feet further from the step and it challenges your glute muscles to keep your pelvis stable. Keep this in mind when tackling the stairs at Ultra-Trail Australia.
Reducing your stride length and increasing your cadence will mean that you are always pushing up and forward with your centre of mass sitting above your feet, not ahead of you.
Drive with your knee
When you’re tired, your legs and feet become lazy. Pay attention to lifting and driving your knee with each step. You will need to activate your hip flexors to do this. Otherwise, you will be relying on your calf and foot muscles to do more work. These muscles are not as strong as your hip flexors for this job.
Shift to your midfoot (when running)
If you feel strong running stair sections, try to stay on the balls of your feet. This will shorten time spent on the ground. This does put strain on your calf muscles, so you may need to drop on your heels for a period if you feel that your calf muscles are starting to tighten up.
Use your hands
Handrails and trekking poles can be a saving grace on long staircases. If there are handrails, bring your upper body into the party and pull yourself up with them. Putting your hands on your knees is also fun way to change things, but don’t rely on this technique entirely. Using your hands on your knees for long periods, you will be bending a lot, compromising your posture and putting strain on your lower back.