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Discussion: How to run down stairs quickly ?

in: Orienteering; Training & Technique

Dec 19, 2019 1:58 AM # 
I wonder: what's the fastest way to run down stairs? Taking every step, every second, or just jump down 4-5 and hope you land on a step without twisting an ankle?
Does anyone have an idea, or a special technique?

Dec 19, 2019 2:01 AM # 
When I was around 20 I lived on the 5th floor, always took the stairs 4 at a time, up or down. That was very efficient at the time, but would not be feasible for me now. 2 at a time would be faster than 1, for sure.
Dec 19, 2019 2:02 AM # 
I'll only take two at a time unless there are only 4-5 in total in which case I might jump the whole lot. Doing that multiple times on a staircase risks a misstep and serious injury.
Dec 19, 2019 2:03 AM # 
How do you go up four steps at a time? I struggle with two, three at a pinch (not for an extended period) - maybe you are taller than me.
Dec 19, 2019 2:21 AM # 
The fastest way, outdoors, is to hit the top step at full speed and land beyond the bottom step, assuming the drop isn't enough that you break a leg.

Otherwise, it depends on a lot of other details.
Dec 19, 2019 2:35 AM # 
Charlie has the advantage of height and the long legs that accompany it. I think that might have helped.
Dec 19, 2019 2:44 AM # 
Not sure if this is an answer but if the staircase has a cement wall on either side (most do), then jumping up onto this and running up or down this tends to be faster for me if there's a lot of stairs. It acts as a sort of ramp which is much faster than stairs in the long run unless it's slippery or there is a guardrail or if the ramp is just way too steep.
Dec 19, 2019 4:09 AM # 
I initially read that as parkour style, running perpendicular to the wall or maybe bouncing from one wall to the other.
Dec 19, 2019 6:11 AM # 
That might be how Spiderman does it... :)
Dec 19, 2019 6:18 AM # 
I find this thread funny. A very, very long time ago a British TV host divulged how he entered the stage down the steps through the audience at such a rapid rate. Angle your favoured foot at the same angle as the stairs.... just land the other one. It allows your eyes to see where you step. It works. Fell Race, Urban, Sprint, catching a train..... its like magic.
Dec 19, 2019 9:34 AM # 
Dec 19, 2019 12:23 PM # 
Height may have been a factor. Being 20 was pretty critical, though.
Dec 19, 2019 12:31 PM # 
Neat link ndobbs. How the heck could you find a four year old post on an obscure website?
So I have an idea. Let's all click on that link and leave them a quirky post. It'll have them wondering what suddenly got them all that traffic. I've done my part. C'mon tRicky it's right up your alley!
Dec 19, 2019 12:58 PM # 
Funny you say that, I had been about to leave a post when I first clicked on it but couldn't think of anything witty at the time. Now you've motivated me to come up with something!
Dec 19, 2019 1:34 PM # 
As a serious answer to the initial question...
Option a) run beside the stairs (assuming the stairs are on runnable hillside)
Option b) This really depends on the steepness, depth and height of the steps, etc. but I have always found that turning your feet sideways so you can land with your full foot on the step makes a big difference. You'll probably end up almost facing sideways to the stair and doing a half run half side shuffle down the stairs but it can give you the confidence to take the steps several at a time.
Dec 19, 2019 2:42 PM # 
Dec 19, 2019 3:56 PM # 
but I have always found that turning your feet sideways so you can land with your full foot on the step makes a big difference

Yes, I do this on wide stairs where you can run down at an angle.
Dec 19, 2019 4:09 PM # 
Sliding down the bannister works in some circumstances. In others, having a hand on the bannister allows you to go at speeds that would be crazy without it. But it requires the right kind of bannister.
Dec 19, 2019 4:11 PM # 
"The fastest way, outdoors, is to hit the top step at full speed and land beyond the bottom step, assuming the drop isn't enough that you break a leg."

That's what I did just before the finish at a sprint at West Point. Unfortunately, the spikes in the shoe on my landing foot stuck in the well manicured grass beyond the bottom step, while the rest of my body kept going forward and I got a high ankle sprain.
Dec 19, 2019 10:32 PM # 
Regarding Canadian's option b above, I broke my right ankle when I was 17 and the right foot ending up pointing out more than it used to, and I broke my left leg badly when I was 21 and the left foot ending up pointing in. So for the last 54 years both feet have pointed to the right. Anyone who has seen my tracks while running in the snow can attest to this.

I had never realized that the general comfort I felt running down stairs at speed was due to this. It seems there needs an option c that is the best -- both feet point to the (same) side while the body stays aimed straight ahead. And then just let loose.
Dec 19, 2019 10:57 PM # 
Reading this thread = can't cope. Can only see disaster. Glad my 6'3" orienteering son isn't on AP. I've seen him go down steep bush hills. It felt like he put one foot at the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom of a 25m incline.
Dec 20, 2019 3:39 AM # 
I have massive feet (15 US/49 EU) but I've always been a good stair runner both up and down. What worked for me when I was young and crazy:
- run down at an angle (feet and body at 45 degrees to the right or left of direction of travel).
- 2 or 3 stairs at a time
- jumping 4 or 5 stairs of the last flight
- work on your ankle strength and flexibility. I used a wobble board a lot when young
- I think being fearless helps. I don't try and grab the rails just keep moving forward and in control.

With my huge feet I've occasionally caught my heel on the top of the stair above the one I intend to land on. No problem because my ankle can flex enough so my forefoot still lands safely on the front of the lower stair with my feet angling down I've never fallen (touch wood).
Dec 20, 2019 1:50 PM # 
For years I’ve done stairs 2 at a time going up and have found that it really helps with running uphill. At home I have the opportunity to go up and down numerous times/day...mostly due to a waning memory and the “what did I come down here for?” situations. I used to do 2 steps going down but lately have been holding back unless there is a railing. Have gotten strange looks when Linds and I have raced up 5 floors to visit my mother in the hospital.
Dec 20, 2019 7:50 PM # 
Was really hoping someone would mention a weird sideways flying techninque, where you hold on to the railing on one side with both hands, and then "fly" down 10 steps at a time...

... though the "gliding" technique by the TV host sounds cool too - something to practice. Wonder if that'd work with spikes...
Dec 21, 2019 4:06 AM # 
Am I the only one to suggest running down one stair at a time. The time lost is a small price to avoid costlier medical bills.
Dec 21, 2019 5:15 AM # 
Dec 21, 2019 5:48 AM # 
Richard, did you purchase the full video on how to safely walk up stairs? I'm sure it has exciting bonus features, such as what to do when you get to the top.
Dec 21, 2019 6:50 AM # 
Just reminded me of being told off in the Rio Tinto office in Brisbane for not having 3 points of contact walking down a flight of stairs.
Dec 21, 2019 10:59 AM # 
This is interesting to watch. Skateboarding, but he does a test jump on from the full height on foot, though beyond the stairway. Also, his friend skips a lot of steps going down the steps sideways in celebration at the end.
Dec 21, 2019 11:23 AM # 
And, a parkour guy front flipping down the same stairway:
Dec 21, 2019 1:25 PM # 
Maybe they should try it with a map in hand.
Dec 21, 2019 4:01 PM # 
That parkour guy seems to have broken his ankle so not that great a technique!
Dec 21, 2019 7:59 PM # 
Is there any correlation to running cadence? Fast runners use shorter strides and a faster cadence. Does that correlate to single or double steps not triple or quadruple?

I’m a fan of looking at the stair sides for runnable slopes. Also running Short stairs at an angle.
Dec 22, 2019 1:55 AM # 
After testing some suggestions today: the fastest was to angle the feet at about 45 deg. to one side (both to the same side), and then jump/run down 2-3 steps at a time while loosely holding on to the railing for guidance and safety.
This was actually surprisingly fast, and way faster and safer than any frontal technique.
Dec 22, 2019 2:01 AM # 
@andrewlee thanks for the video! The "angled" technique of the guy running down the stairs is indeed very fast!
(Compare to the frontal technique of other guy coming down the stairs behind him)

Here' s the link with the video starting at the right moment for those who want to watch it:
Dec 22, 2019 3:12 AM # 
Stairs are a lot faster on a bike ...
Fabio Wibmer - Urban Freeride Lives 3
Dec 22, 2019 5:10 AM # 
Aussie elite Rob Bennett is creating a series of sprint training videos, and talks about stairs at around 12 minutes in the first of the series. He mentions that Finnish orienteer Topi Syrjalainen takes stairs very quickly, sometimes a whole staircase at a time, sometimes 5-6 stairs at a time.
Dec 22, 2019 6:28 AM # 
Is a whole staircase 38 or 40 +/- 1?
Dec 22, 2019 10:50 PM # 
Aside: keep us in touch with Rob Bennett's videos will you Simmo? Can't find any more at the moment.
Dec 23, 2019 4:48 AM # 
Here's the 2nd one.
Dec 23, 2019 6:16 AM # 
Loving the recent burst of comments on the old HelsinkiIn story that ndobbs linked to. All in familiar 'tone' and starting around about the same time as this thread. Purely coincidental, I'm sure.
Jan 3, 2020 6:19 PM # 
Just jump 4head

This discussion thread is closed.