Actually he or she isn’t stomping, but it certainly sounds like it. Start typing “my upstair” into Google and look what you get.


Click on any results you get from Google and all upstairs neighbors swear they’re not stomping but walking regularly. The downstairs neighbors will get annoyed any time the upstairs neighbors moves throughout their unit (which they have every right to do) and soon a contest in passive aggression begins. Having a loud-walking upstairs neighbor is common, but how loud are they? In the five weeks I’ve been living in my second level condo, I know that my upstairs neighbor is loud and also a psychopath–this I’ve observed directly and gathered through eye-witness accounts. But about his walking specifically; when he walks it sounds like he’s stomping, but he’s walking as a shoe has trained him. He doesn’t know his gait sounds like a stomp, and doesn’t know what to do about the complaints.


To you upstairs neighbors annoyed with your downstairs neighbors who claim you’re stomping and who are retaliating by blasting loud music, please read on. To my fellow downstairs neighbors dealing with alleged stompers, this is for you, too.

It’s about heel-strike vs. forefoot strike. Your body knows how to walk and run without shoes. As a baby, the first steps you took were without shoes. You had better balance without them! In fact watch any baby who’s been dressed, and one of the first things he or she will do is remove their shoes. We don’t need shoes to walk. But the modern running shoe, with generous heel padding, encourages an unnatural heel-strike, which causes more impact both on the floor and on your body. High-impact walking is loud. Compare the two running techniques in the video below. Watch how gently the forefoot striking is compared to the heel strike. Which do you imagine is quieter?

If you’re an upstairs neighbor reading this, watch how you walk. You’re likely striking with your heel first. Try walking by striking with your forefoot first and notice how gentle the step is to your foot, knees, back and the floor you share with your annoyed downstairs neighbor. You can only barefoot heel-strike comfortably at a walk, you cannot run barefoot striking with your heel first–because it hurts. In fact sprinting shoes, the ones with spikes, have no padding in the heel, forcing sprinters to run on the ball of their feet, for a faster, gentler run.

Downstairs neighbors: your upstairs neighbor isn’t stomping, he is walking as modern shoes have trained him to walk. Depending upon the level of sanity and empathy of your neighbor (as early stated, mine is a nutcase), you might be able to approach him about the heel striking. Telling him “you’re stomping” or “you’re walking loud” won’t help, because they don’t think they’re doing anything unusual. It’s likely you’re walking the same way he is, but no one lives below you to notice.

You can read more about how our bodies are supposed to run in the phenomenal book Born to Run. Another good resource about going barefoot is Dr. Nicholas A Campitelli. If you’re having lower back pain, knee pain, plantar fasciitis issues, heel spurs, you’ll want to read up on barefoot running and walking, its correct forms, and how it can help your body feel and work better. You may also quell the complaints and end the feud between you and your downstairs neighbors.


  1. Isaac Anderson June 8, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    It has been our family’s habit for a long time to simply take off our shoes when we’re in the house. It keeps the carpets clean and I think would solve this problem entirely. Is it too much to ask an upstairs neighbor to adopt this habit?

    1. Courtney June 11, 2013 at 9:08 am

      I wasn’t exaggerating when I said he was a nutcase. We, the residents, have had many problems with him, some of them legal issues. He’s not a good person, and we think he is capable of violence in retaliation. So yes, it does make sense to take off shoes. But politeness is for the reasonable.

      1. Tom Freeloader January 1, 2014 at 9:45 am

        You do seem to be exaggerating a bit, Your upstairs neighbor isn’t stomping, he is walking as modern shoes have trained him to walk, as you’ve said yourself. Or maybe your the nutcase.

        1. Courtney January 1, 2014 at 1:54 pm

          Hi Tom Freeloader! So if I were a betting woman, I’d say you Googled: “My downstairs neighbor complains about my stomping” and found this blog post… Tread lightly, everyone will be happier.

          Also “your” is possessive, as in “Your use of ‘your’ is incorrect.” If you’re going to insult me, do it properly.

    2. NFG December 19, 2016 at 7:55 am

      I live on the parlor level (slightly above street level) of an 1870s era townhouse in Boston’s South End and have dealt with the upstairs neighbors on this issue. It helps that I maintain a good relationship with them (and that I am the building manager). The shock of a heel footfall from the unit above mine is much louder than normal footsteps, shakes the whole house and can even be heard in the garden level unit below mine. Whenever we get new tenants in the upstairs unit, I print this article out (or email it, if I have their email address). It has made all the difference.

  2. Michele July 25, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Truth be told, we all “stomp” or “walk heavy”. It’s just a matter of who has the misfortune of being on the bottom floor.

    1. Courtney July 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      But we all don’t. Mr. Upstairs has a girlfriend. The other day, he left and she remained at home. I could hear her walk across some squeaky spots, but no where else. We’re not all elephants.

      1. evan_la August 6, 2013 at 12:47 am

        Hear hear. I have two upstairs neighbors, a lovely couple, but you wouldn’t know it because I only hear one downstairs. She walks on her heels. Thud, thud, thud. I’ve tried cookies, wine, charades, and the broom-handle against the ceiling. No change. Both walk barefoot indoors as a courtesy – as do I.

        I think I’ll deliver her a print-out of this blog post. I’ve lived upstairs, and learned to walk quietly, as you describe, and never since had a complaint, over 20 years now. These days I’m living downstairs and I remember why I told myself I wouldn’t do this again. But the apartment is so lovely. *sigh*

  3. Robert February 4, 2014 at 4:50 am

    No, we do not all stomp or walk heavy. We either don’t naturally or we learn not to as a courtesy to our downstairs neighbors. It’s part of living in society. I was the unknowing heavy walker when I lived on the top floor of a triple decker a few years back until my neighbor below very kindly let me know. Horrified, I quickly learned to soften my step and after that, she heard nothing besides the normal upstairs neighbor sounds (boards squeaking, things being dropped occasionally). It’s not difficult to train yourself to do. I currently live in a middle unit and my downstairs neighbor hears nothing (I’ve asked him to let me know), but my upstairs neighbor is a heavy walker. I have a good relationship with him, so I’m going to point his way to this article.

  4. Jeremy March 11, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Miss you, Courtney! Though, you obviously don’t need to live aboard anymore to post interesting stuff, it’s nice to see you around this site with your January replies. My downstairs neighbors don’t mind me, I normally just moonwalk all around. Sure, I bump into things occasionally, but it’s what works for me.

  5. Brian March 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Thank you! Finally someone who understands that it’s not “normal walking” it’s that heel-first walking that’s doing it. My last upstairs neighbor must have weighed over 250 lbs. and there was no problem. Then this new guy who’s probably 160 lbs has been driving me nuts and neither he, the landlord, or really anyone understands–they just say I’m crazy. Being trained in recording engineering and music I know that their suggestions of getting earplugs will do nothing. This is bass when you’re dealing with impacts like this, and it’s felt in my body. The only thing I’m really hearing with my ears is the rattling of appliances and structure of the house with every footstep. Screws even started falling out of the duct work in the ceiling shortly after he moved in but, oh yeah, I’m crazy, I’m just imagining it.
    Man, some people are dumb.