Stand Up! Strategies for Standing Up from a Seated Position

by Christina Lasich, MD Health Professional

Now that you are seated comfortably with improved posture, how do you get up? The sit-to-stand maneuver is critical for performing activities of daily living like toileting and getting out of bed. Besides, sitting all day is not good for the body. However, muscle weakness and pain can create a serious roadblock to arising from a seated position. With some simple strategies, you might be able to stand up more comfortably.

  1. Create an Adequate Base of Support: Two legs are better than one leg, three legs are better than two legs, and four legs... well, you get the picture. With an adequate base of support, this stable platform can be the launching point for you to maneuver from a seated position to a standing position. While seated, look at both feet and make sure to place them at shoulders width apart. If the legs are too close together, then the two become one and more unstable. Two legs may not be enough for some people. Sometimes, a hand placed on an armrest or a walking stick can help distribute the load and provide more force needed to get up. This three-legged approach to arising from a seated position is only improved by adding a fourth leg. Both hands can be placed on grab bars, armrests, or even a walker, the extra support from both arms may be just enough to make standing up more comfortable.

  2. Slow Down: Try to be mindful of the speed in which you do things. Getting up from a chair too quickly can lead to pain and loss of balance. You need to take the time to ensure that the legs and arms are in the correct position. You need to take the time to scoot forward and place your feet underneath you. You need to take the time to think about what you are doing and do it correctly. Slow down, your body will appreciate it in more ways than one.

  3. Try a Higher Seat: Getting up out of a low seated position is extremely difficult, especially if your legs are weak. Just an inch or two higher can make the difference between being stuck in a chair and the freedom to get up. Look at all the chairs in your environment and choose the one with the seat that is highest from the floor. Another way to gain a height advantage in your house is to obtain a raised toilet seat. Getting off a conventional toilet can be very painful because they can be so low to the ground. Some manufacturers sell higher toilets.

If installing a new toilet is out of the question, a home medical supply company can outfit your bathroom with a raised toilet seat. Don't get stuck in a low seat, sit higher off the ground because then you are half way to standing.

  1. Get some Assistance: Wouldn't it be great if someone was always available to give you a hand to help you up? Well, that is not very realistic. But there are other ways to get assistance and regain independence. As already mentioned, a cane or a walker can be extremely helpful in providing the extra support needed to stand up safely.

These assistive devices improve balance, increase support, and distribute the load. Keeping one handy by your favorite chair can help you maintain independence and comfort. If getting out of your favorite chair is becoming more and more difficult, consider an electric chair that has a lift-to-assist feature (or add a lift to assist device) which helps to lift the torso upright.
Again, a home medical supply company can help you find the right assistive device to help you stand from a seated position.

  1. Consult a Professional Physical Therapist: A physical therapist is trained to help people improve their ability to perform the necessary components of mobility. Transferring the body from sitting to standing can be fined tuned for each individual with the right guidance.

Standing up is just as important as sitting down because mobility is critical for a sense of independence and quality of life. With good support, a slow enough speed, higher height, proper assistance, and professional guidance, arising from a seated position can done more easily with less discomfort.

Christina Lasich, MD
Meet Our Writer
Christina Lasich, MD

Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.