Step-ups are an exercise that involves stepping on a box or other elevated surface. They’re often used in physical therapy to improve mobility and strength. They are part of the “lunge pattern” of movement.
Why Do They Work?
Step-ups are a functional way to train your muscles. When you step up, you challenge the muscles of your trunk, hips, thigh, and feet/ankles. Depending on the angle of your knee, you can bias your thighs or your hips. In addition, you can increase the challenge with adding weight. Simply hold a dumbbell or kettlebell will increase the resistance of your step-up. If you add repetitions or adjust tempo, you can also improve your cardiovasular fitness.
How Can I Do Them?
To perform step-ups correctly, start by standing on both feet. Then, place your other foot on top of an elevated stable object. We recommend using a plyo box or a step-up board, but any stable surface will do. Next, bend your knee forward. The more forward your knee, the more you will bias your thigh muscles. The more vertical your knee, the more you will bias your hip muscles. Finally, drive your front foot into the box and stand upright again on your elevated object. Then simply reverse the process, and return to your starting position.
Step-ups can be a great exercise to strengthen your legs. However, they may not be the best exercise for you if you have pain or lack the strength to perform the movement properly. In this case you should address the underlying causes of your pain and develop foundational strength before adding step ups to your exercise program.
When Should I Do Them?
If step ups are painless, you should incorporate them into a lower body training routine at least once per week. Alternatively, lunges are a more challenging version of this exercise pattern.
How Long Will it Take to See Results?
In the beginning, many of our clients experience improvements with strength on a weekly basis. After the first few months of regular training, rapid improvements will begin to taper. You will then need to be strategic with your sets, reps, and intensity to see continued improvements in strength.
With a strategic plan, performing step ups are possible even if you’ve been pain for years. However, ignoring pain and/or performing step ups with poor form can result in a further decline of your joint health. If you’re worried pain with step ups, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to help you.
We invite you to request a consultation with one of our specialists. This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your pain, and foster confidence that we can help you. If you’re certain that we’re a good fit to work together, you can decide on the next step.
If you’re in pain but unsure about what you should do, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.