Step By Step

You’re in an office building, or maybe an apartment complex. You’re running for your life, being pursued by a handful of zombies, the fast kind. You don’t want to risk the elevator, so you head for the stairwell.

stairwell

Complete with weird camera angle

Smart, but now what?

Stairs are slow to navigate safely, and treacherous to descend quickly. It’s easy to slip and roll an ankle if you’re not careful, but take your time and you’ll certainly be overrun by the much faster, reckless zombies. We need a way to go down stairs quickly, without such risk. Fortunately, there is such a way.

WARNING: This technique is high-impact, and will damage tour knees with prolonged use. Understand it, and practice it just enough to become proficient, but ZET does not advocating taking stairs like this all the time. You will wreck your knees. You’ve been warned.

The fastest way to take stairs is to gallop down them sideways. Don’t try picturing that just yet, it’s not going to make sense. Instead, find some flat ground, spread your feet about shoulder-width apart, and shuffle sideways, keeping your feet in a line. Make sure your feet never cross and work on the gallop rhythm: ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.

Now apply that same footwork to the stairs. It doesn’t really matter which direction you turn, but you’re better off facing the handrail, if there is one. Place your front foot two steps below your back foot:

Foot placement when heading down stairs

Also: TIE YOUR SHOES!

Now shuffle your feet like you did on the flat ground. Your back foot should land two steps below the step your front foot just left, followed immediately by your front foot another two steps below that. It’s hard to describe in text or with pictures, but eventually I’ll have a video up to show you. Again, the rhythm is important: ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.

A word on the jump
It’s important that your shuffle have as little bounce as possible. This will minimize the impact on each “landing,” and make your descent smoother, less jarring. Slide your rear hand along the handrail (if there is one) to help keep your balance and control the height of your jump.

If the stairs aren’t too long, that’ll be the end of it: you’ll hit the bottom of the stairs, shift back into a run, and be off. For longer flights or multiple flights, though, you can start to lengthen your jump, so instead of skipping a single step, you’re skipping two, then three, then four. Your actual steps are (back-to-front) are still only two steps apart, but each pair of steps spreads out further and further. So ba-dum, ba-dum becomes ba-dum… ba-dum.
You should only start lengthening your jump if you’re really comfortable with the spacing of the stairs and the rhythm of your own steps.

Taking something with you

Technique doesn’t really change if you have something in your hand: Just hold it in your front hand (remember, your back hand should be on the railing). The difficulty comes when you try to carry a bag. Every time you land you put pressure on the bag straps, and if you’re not careful, you’ll tear the strap where it connects to the bag. The best way to mitigate this is to take the strap out of the equation if possible: Hold your bag by the handles if you have them. If not, figure out some way to hold the bag with one arm, either by bunching up the fabric or wrapping your arm down over the whole thing.

holding a bag on the way down stairs

Again, this is hard on your knees (especially when you start lengthening your jumps), and you still have to be mindful not to roll your ankles, but when you absolutely need to make it down in a hurry, this is the fastest, safest way.

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