Training for ADLs by Moving From Lying to Sitting

When recovering after a neck or low back injury, regaining your ability to carry out your activities of daily living (ADLs) involves a number of exercises. Learning how to position a neutral spine and to safely twist or bend your back are key components of ADL therapy.

Your therapist may work with you on movements that include rolling, getting up and down from your bed, chair, or the floor, getting into and out of your car, and more. Becoming proficient at doing these basic actions will help reduce or minimize pain as you resume your normal activities.


Back Safe Rolling Instructions

A woman laying on the ground with her head resting on book

Getty Images / Tony Hutchings

Whether you are moving from your back to your side, your side to your front, or your front to your side, rolling is a handy skill to have. It is often used to change sleeping positions throughout the night.

To roll from a supine position (lying on your back) to your side, you should begin with a neutral spine and then follow with the drawing in maneuver. These two initial steps will help you establish the support you need for transitioning to a different position while lying down.


It's important to roll your trunk as one unit. To do this, you might imagine there's a stiff pole or rod that goes down the center of your body from your head through your pelvis. This rod image may help you keep your ribs, shoulders, and/or pelvis from moving independently of one another as you roll.

It's okay to use your arms and your top leg to help you get over.

You will need your rolling skill for the next exercise: moving from sitting to lying down or from lying down to sitting.


Move From Lying to Sitting

Lie down on your back. Do the log roll so that you end up on your side. ​As you move into this side-lying position, bend your hips and knees and push yourself up with your arms. The entire time, your kneecaps and your chest should face the same direction.

As with the log roll, remember to keep your trunk stiff, especially from your pelvis to your rib cage. To do this, don't allow your spine to twist and bend as you roll. Instead, let the flexion in your knees and especially your hips take the force. Keep your spine supported, but relaxed.


Move From Sitting to Lying

Use your legs and arms to help you support your weight. If need be, place your arms in front of your body and use them as a support as you lower your body down. When you get to side-lying, your hip and knee joints should be bent to almost 90 degrees (right angles).

From the side-lying position, use your log rolling skills to take yourself onto your back or front.

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  • Kinser, C., Colby, L.A., Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques. 4th Edition. F.A. Davis Company. Philadelphia, PA. 2002.

By Anne Asher, CPT
Anne Asher, ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, and orthopedic exercise specialist, is a back and neck pain expert.