How to Safely Get up From a Chair

caretaker helping senior woman stand up from a chair.
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It is important to learn how to get up from a chair safely to prevent injuries from falls. With the aging process, we lose strength in our hip muscles and knee extensors (the muscles that help straighten our legs). We rely on these muscles to walk, to climb stairs, and to get up from a chair. For this reason, older people may have difficulty standing from the seated position. Sometimes, impaired balance after injury or surgery may make rising from a chair difficult as well.

Often the aging population will attempt to "pull up" to standing by grasping objects to make up for muscle weakness. This is a common, yet very unsafe, practice. By grasping unsteady objects, falls may result. If you are having difficulty rising up from a chair or from a seated position, check in with your doctor, and then visit your physical therapist who can teach you how to properly and safely rise from a seated position.

Learn below how to get out of a chair safely. Make sure you practice a few times with someone nearby who can help steady you as you rise up. Remember, be sure that you are safe first, and then rise up. Never try to simply stand up on your own, especially if you are having a difficult time rising from a chair and standing.

Steps for Safely Rising From a Seated Position

  1. Move your bottom to the edge of the chair.
  2. Place both feet firmly and flat on the floor.
  3. Place both hands on the armrests of the chair. If there are no armrests, then place both hands on the edge of the chair.
  4. Lean forward so that your nose is over your toes.
  5. Push down through your arms as you help unload your weight off the chair.
  6. As you are pushing down through your arms, begin straightening your legs.
  7. Let go of the chair and finish straightening your legs.
  8. Stand up nice and straight.

Tips for Getting Up From a Chair

  1. Never grasp unsteady objects - like a quad cane or walker - to pull up.
  2. Make sure you move your bottom to the edge of the chair.
  3. Don't forget to lean forward with your "nose over your toes."

Difficulty rising from a chair can be a sign of muscle weakness. Your physical therapist can work with you to improve your lower extremity muscular strength. He or she can prescribe exercises to strengthen your hips to make rising easier. Knee exercises may also be prescribed as part of your home exercise program to make rising from a chair a little easier.

Once you are standing up, you should be able to hold your balance safely. If not, specific balance exercises may be done to help improve your balance and safe standing ability. An assistive device may be necessary for safe standing and ambulation.

Rising from a chair sounds like a simple thing to do, but so many people have difficulty after injury, illness, or surgery. Muscle weakness as part of the normal aging process may also make rising difficult. If you are having trouble standing from a seated position, visit your physical therapist to learn the proper way to stand up from a chair and to strengthen those muscles that are needed to safely rise up.

Edited by Brett Sears, PT.

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