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Physiology Question: Walking Vs. Stairs


firewatcher
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For a few of us, walking uphill is very do-able, if not helpful, but we can't do stairs! I grey-out completely by the top of a single flight of stairs, but I can walk on an incline on a treadmill. Put me flat and ask me to run and I will see nothing but stars after 30 yards/meters. :D

What is the bodily/physiological difference? What muscles engage in incline walking that are not engaged in stairs or running?

Are there OTHER activities that are like this for you?

p.s.---WHY does the same thing happen when I raise my arms above my head?

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I would say its because the incline is more gradual...but the stairs if you go to fast you leave your stomach/head on the last step, causing severe dizziness. Plus stairs are much choppier, hills are smooth. For me going up stairs is harder than up a hill, but down stairs is easier than down a hill. Such silliness!

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The arms thing I believe is because it raises your heart rate since you body has trouble pumping blood up there, so your blood pressure drops, and your heart starts to race.

I felt really dizzy one day as I was taking a bowl down from a high shelf, so I put on my BP cuff and raised the other arm just like before. My BP was 173/149!!!!!!!! But yes, my heart does start to race too. :D

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I was thinking that's it because when you go up stairs, the blood gets cut off to your leg for a second while you're reaching to climb up the next step. This never happens going downstairs or on the treadmill ...

Have you noticed that if you go up one stair at a time and rest in between with both legs on the same step, that going up isn't a problem ?

This would allow the blood to get back into your legs and provide the nutrients it needs ... Yes, it's slow and anyone behind you hates you but it works ...

My PT taught me that if I rode the recubent bike slowly it would give my body a chance to redistribute the blood / aka nutrients and I could ride longer ...

BTW. Do you all get winded easily ?

And do you have times, as in days or weeks that you're perfectly normal ? I landscaped my back yard about 2 months ago when I had a good month ...

I was thinking this could be from the muscles contracting so hard too ...

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so wierd you mention it...I recently discovered that, on the days when I can't make it up the stairs of our building to access my apartment, if I just lean back against my husband and walk up (like I'm tilted against gravity so it's like walking on a flat surface rather than upward), then I can make it just fine. (By the way, this works bc my husband is about twice my wieght...don't recommend it if your companion is lighter than you...you'd probably both end up falling down the stairs!) But once I need to lift my thigh up, like the motion used for climbing stairs, I'm gone. Don't know why.

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I do get winded easily too, steps are tough and the worst is getting ready in the morning. Seems like mornings are always worse anyway and then to have my arms up for drying and curlig hair really gets my heart going. I've had to go and get a bar stool to sit on for getting ready in the morning when is really bad.

Jen

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I do get winded easily too, steps are tough and the worst is getting ready in the morning. Seems like mornings are always worse anyway and then to have my arms up for drying and curlig hair really gets my heart going. I've had to go and get a bar stool to sit on for getting ready in the morning when is really bad.

Jen

The morning problem could be from hypoglycemia. I find somedays I'm ok to shower before eating breakfast but most days I'm not ... Prior to going on the Paleo diet, I was so weak that I could hardly function in the morning. So there's been some improvement here ...

I use a bar stool sometimes when I'm cooking too ...

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Do you guys think this is dangerous? When I go up a flight of stairs I completely black out (though don't pass out) and I feel like I am going to DIE - my heart pounds so hard and so fast. I worry that doing this over and over is dangerous to my heart muscle, the way too much exercise can be dangerous for someone who is out of shape. My other symptoms -- heart racing when standing in line, for example -- are different because although my hr goes high, my heart doesn't pound so hard that I can't breathe or anything. The combination of really fast AND really hard worries me that I will do damage to my heart over time. My doctor keeps telling me there's nothing wrong with my heart, just my autonomic nervous system, but I don't want something to BECOME wrong because I'm stressing the muscle so much.

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Do you guys think this is dangerous? When I go up a flight of stairs I completely black out (though don't pass out) and I feel like I am going to DIE - my heart pounds so hard and so fast. I worry that doing this over and over is dangerous to my heart muscle, the way too much exercise can be dangerous for someone who is out of shape. My other symptoms -- heart racing when standing in line, for example -- are different because although my hr goes high, my heart doesn't pound so hard that I can't breathe or anything. The combination of really fast AND really hard worries me that I will do damage to my heart over time. My doctor keeps telling me there's nothing wrong with my heart, just my autonomic nervous system, but I don't want something to BECOME wrong because I'm stressing the muscle so much.

What I was told is as long as your HR comes down sometime (when you sit or at night) your heart will rest and be OK. It's only when the heart beats that hard all the time that it's a big deal. If you've had a cardiac stress test with an echo and been told that your heart is fine, it probably is.

When I go up a flight of stairs I used to grey-out completely! My heart would start pounding by the third stair and I couldn't see at all by the top! Building up my fluid volume has helped the grey-outs tremendously, but I still get the breathless, heart-pounding! (I must be in love!)

I don't know if it the sudden-ness of the exertion, or the muscles used, or maybe that in us we are creating a "blood-vacuum" in the trailing leg as we go up (since there is a sudden release of contraction in that leg before it goes to the next stair?)

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Oh how I wish I had seen this on 2 days ago!! I was just recently diagnosed with dysautonomia and am still learning what aggravates my condition. So I had no idea what would happen to me when I had to carry a screaming child up four stairs of a parking garage. I thought I was going to die right there. My HR quickened and was pounding in my ears. I could hardly breathe. And once I got to the top, I had a weird cough for at least 3 hours and had to stay still on the couch. It was horrible!

Has that happened to anyone after walking up stairs? What alleviates the symptoms?

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OMG I get the weird cough, too!!!! I've been thinking I was crazy for this.

This has been interesting for me to read, because for me it's definitely not a question of exertion. On days when I'm feeling ok, I can cross-country ski -- not super fast, but still, it's true exercise and I don't get out of breath. But going up stairs ALWAYS makes me gasp for breath. It's definitely qualitatively different than just regular exertion.

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Guest tearose

4ever, it may be, as I found in me, if your heart goes high enough for a while and you do not do a counter maneuver, you can trigger SVT or PSVT if you have that propensity. That would explain the need for a longer recovery time.

Before I was able to move to a no stair home, I would go up the stairs and sit half way up or once up, sit down or lay down right away.

Wearing compression will help but I still have times even in compression when my rate will climb as I climb a "necessary" stair.

best regards,

tearose

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