“Why do you go up with the good and down with the bad?”

This question is asking about ascending and descending stairs.

Sometimes, looking at the search terms that were used of how people ended up on my blog is a great way to give me an idea for a new post.  This exact wording was put into Google(or maybe a lesser-known search engine)….”why do you go up with the good and down with the bad?”   Somehow my blog came up in the results, my site was clicked on and the rest is history.

So, back to the question.  Why indeed?  Hey I know why!!!!  Here’s why……(in case the first time around your question was not answered)…..

I’ll explain this using the example of a sprained ankle, think of an orthopedic injury that requires you to put less weight through one foot when walking or it will hurt like a m-f’er.  When it comes to the weird gait patterns after a stroke, sometimes honestly this won’t apply.  It did not apply to me for the first couple of years after my stroke. It didn’t work for me.  Because of the tremor and ataxia in my right leg, I had to do the opposite of this gait pattern for quite some time when negotiating stairs.  Going down with the bad didn’t work for me because my “bad” leg had a mind of its own for a while and I had zero control over it.  I wasn’t able to direct it and tell it where to go.

Ok, back to the question.  Pretend your right ankle is messed up.  So the right leg is the “bad” leg.  When going up stairs, the entire weight of whole body must be lifted up to the next stair.  You wouldn’t want to put all that weight through your messed up ankle.  So, when you go up stairs, you “lead” with your left leg, using that leg to do all of the work lifting your body, and bring your right leg up to same step to meet it.  That way, when climbing a step, all the weight being lifted is on the “good” leg, you wouldn’t want all that weight put on your messed up ankle.

Going down a flight of stairs is the exact opposite.  Again, you don’t want all that weight on your “bad” leg, so you would put your “bad” leg down onto the next, lower step first, which will transfer all the body weight to the left “good” leg and it can then do the job of lowering your body down without using your right leg at all.

Try it, go down a step, put your right leg first on the step below, you should feel your left side tense up a little as it prepares to perform the act of lowering the body to the next step down.

That’s why.


Categories: Health, Recovery, Rehab

Tags: , , ,

9 replies

  1. This is why I think you’re the best. I’ll puzzle you with this question. Why can’t I jump off the ground? I have enough strength in my left leg to lead with it going up steps.

    • The best I can say (cause I really don’t know the answer) is that sometimes muscular strength doesn’t translate at all into functional strength. I can’t jump, either.

  2. It’s funny that you address this today, I was just reminding myself this same thing when stepping on and off of the bus today. I remind myself “UP with the GOOD things in life and DOWN with the BAD things in life”. But it is a hard habit to break sometimes. There are times when I go to lead with my right (bad) leg and it just doesn’t have the strength to hold me up and I realize it about half way up and by then I am in deep doo doo. Like when I thought it would be a great idea to take my walker on the store escalator instead of waiting for the elevator from he*& and it got caught on the top lip of the escalator and I did a nose dive, a 10 pointer even, over my walker and landed on top of my walker on the floor right in front of several shoppers. Talk about embarrassing. But then having to figure out how to stand up from this lovely position I now find myself in. My brain tells me to use my hands to push myself up with but as any of us know we don’t work the same way we used to, so that didn’t work, then I tried to stand using my right leg to stand up on.. ha ha ha .. that must have been a funny sight. This poor fat old lady can’t even get up off the floor. That old TV commercial started playing in my head. HELP I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP!!

    Luckily some very nice people came to my aid and we figure out how to get me off the floor. I had bruises and bumps and a sprained ankle but thankfully no broken bones. But I remember to not put my weight on my bad leg because I know It won’t hold me. The funny thing is I am just as “strong” on my bad side as I am on my good side. I have a hard time coming up with a word that fits, my hubby came the closest today at the Dr when he said “spongy” When I step down with my bad foot the feeling is spongy and not solid like when my left foot hit the ground. Sorry, Amy I think I have rambled and wandered a bit here. I hope I stayed on point enough though.

    • Thanks! My husband showed this to me too. It’s ridiculously expensive and it doesn’t claim to completely eradicate the migraines, just make them less frequent and/or intense. Those things are great but that’s not enough for me to shell out that kind of money. Whether insurance would pay for it or not. I’ll wait until it’s been on the market for a few years and see what people have to say.

  3. Amy… yet again you are on a hot topic for me!

    I am going to have a hip replacement this Friday on my Right “used to be good side”. I have had a prehab meeting with a physiotherapist and the other day I met with the hospital physio at my pre-op appointment. Wow, that went badly!
    I have 5 steps into my house. Apparently, I am doing everything wrong. HA. I hold my cane in my solid right hand… no should be in my left (where I can’t lean on it with wild wobbling. ) I still do steps one at a time. Now let’s just try and get me to step down with my right surgery- to-be leg. and step up with my left brain injury leg! OMG too scary and frankly I kind of froze. The girl ACTED like she didn’t know if I was that stupid that I didn’t know left from right or just this hardest to manage uncooperative patient ever. She handed my HUSBAND a pamphlet about how to arrange to get an expensive ramp installed at my home since apparently, we are dealing with some serious long-term disabilities that have not been addressed. grrrrrrrrrr


    Ps — this is almost 10 years to the day from my hospital mismanagement acquired brain injury!

    • Oh dear. A cane might not be the way to go for you after your surgery because of your messed up left side. You might need to use a walker for a while. If you meet with that PT again or any PT in the future actually, definitely emphasize the point that your left side is bad too. It can’t be considered your ‘good’ side after your hip replacement.

  4. Hi Amy

    Thank-you thank you thank-you!

    I’m in hospital day3 after hip replacement and just worked with the physio and her student.

    Again it was being a challenging experience so I used your phrasing that the weak left side didn’t turn into a good side after10 years just because the right one had surgery! Like a miracle! I think I saw a light bulb go on over the physios head. Things got a lot more productive and flexible .

    I absolutely can’t lean on the cans with my weaker hand even though that is the opposite side from my surgical leg. And — try as I might I can’t make my weak stroke leg lead for a step down. Just won’t go. Period.

    Thankyou you just saved me a lot of unnecessary stress!

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