Difficulty standing from sitting position

Rise Up: Tips To Make Standing Up From a Seated Position Easy

Sit and Be Fit TV host, Mary Ann Wilson, RN

For many people, the simple act of getting up from a seated position can be a challenge. The ordinary activities of standing and sitting are so basic that we take them for granted…until the day when we have to push, and push, and push again before achieving “liftoff”. Difficulty in standing up from a chair can be due to a combination of reasons:

  • weakness of the legs
  • stiffness in the back
  • poor balance
  • fear of falling
  • lack of flexibility in the ankles
  • lack of range of motion in the knees
  • tightness of the hamstring muscles on the back of the thighs
  • improper technique

Here are some easy tips to practice to help you rise up from a seated position.

  1. Slide your bottom all the way to the front edge of your chair.
  2. Now that you’re at the edge of the chair, sit up straight.
  3. With your knees bent, pull your feet back under the front edge of your chair underneath you.
  4. Place your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.
  5. If you have armrests on your chair, place your hands near the front of the armrests. If you don’t have armrests, place your hands beside your thighs at the front edge of your chair or on the tops of your thighs.
  6. Lean forward from the hips, keeping the back straight. This step is very important! If you lean forward far enough, gravity can actually help you stand up! Your head should move forward during this step.
  7. As you are leaning forward, press your heels into the floor as you push yourself up with your legs and with your arms.
  8. Straighten your legs. Lift your head up to straighten your hips. Now you’ve done it! You’ve achieved liftoff!

Another easy tip to help you stand up from a seated position is to consider the type of chair you sit in. Switching from a soft squishy chair to a strong, firm, armchair will give you more support as you stand up.

Use the same technique outlined above when getting out of or into a car. Again, the step that most people have trouble with is leaning far enough forward. By bringing your feet back underneath your body and leaning forward, the body’s center of gravity shifts toward the front of the feet. This allows gravity to help you rise up from a seated position.

A good way to help increase leg strength is to practice standing up and sitting down as an exercise 5 times at every meal. It’s also very important to do exercises for back, leg and ankle flexibility.

Related Blogs:

Sit to Stand Training to Help Achieve Lift Off

Sink Exercises for Leg Strengthening and Balance

What is the best thing for stiff joints?

Most people will experience joint stiffness at some point. Age is a common cause of joint stiffness due primarily to a lifetime of use. When age is the primary reason for stiff joints, any number of joints may be affected.

Common causes include:


Share on PinterestResting a joint affected by bursitis may cause any stiffness or pain to pass.

Bursitis develops when tiny, fluid-filled sacs in the joints called bursae become inflamed. The inflammation causes pain as well as stiffness.

Bursitis can happen in nearly any joint, but it is most common in larger joints, such as:

  • shoulders
  • hips
  • knees
  • ankles
  • elbow

It is also common in the big toe.

Bursitis usually heals by itself with rest. A person should typically:

  • reduce activities that move the joint
  • rest the joint for long periods

Resting the joint allows the bursae to recover, causing the pain and stiffness to go away.


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative type of arthritis that affects nearly 27 million people in the United States. This type of arthritis is due to wear and tear and is, therefore, more frequently seen in people over the age of 65.

Osteoarthritis often affects:

  • fingers
  • hips
  • knees
  • back
  • neck

As it progresses it can cause:

  • swelling and pain
  • cracking noises with movement

Treatments usually center around relieving pain and reducing swelling in the joints. People whose osteoarthritis is particularly painful and debilitating may require surgery.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Share on PinterestArthritis is one of the most common causes of joint stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another common arthritis that affects about 1.5 million people in the U.S. RA typically appears in younger adults between the ages of 30 and 60.

RA is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack otherwise healthy joints. People with RA will experience pain and swelling as the body attacks the joints.

There is no cure for RA. Treatments focus on slowing the progression of the disease.


Lupus is another autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, such as muscles and joints. When lupus attacks the joints, symptoms include:

  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • pain

Lupus is often difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to other medical conditions. There is no cure and symptoms will get worse over time.

Treatment focuses on treating the symptoms. Available treatments tend to be effective in helping people find symptom relief.


Gout is a sudden onset arthritis that tends to affect males more often than females. Gout is a condition that develops quickly, with symptoms sometimes appearing overnight, often in the big toe.

Symptoms include:

  • severe pain
  • severe tenderness
  • stiff joints
  • swelling and increased warmth of the joint

Gout can develop in any joint. Gout will typically appear for a short period and go away. People with gout often get symptoms on and off throughout their life.

Treatment focuses on reducing the severity of the symptoms and lowering levels of uric acid in the blood.

1. The Squat

Photo by Antonio Diaz/Getty Images

It’s never anyone’s favorite exercise, we know. But it’s efficient—and very effective. “In the test, you have to lower yourself to the ground, so the descent from standing into the squat is an effective way to improve your descent to sitting,” says Ratliff. “Also, over time, you’ll be able to increase the depth of the squat while still maintaining an upright torso, and your hips will become more flexible, which will allow for a smoother transition from standing to sitting, and from sitting to standing.”

Stand with your feet just wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Keep your arms at your sides and your shoulders back toward your hips. Engage your abs, shifting your weight back into your heels, then hinge at the hips, shifting them back and down. As you lower your hips, your knees will bend and start to shift forward; try to prevent them from traveling too far forward past your toes. Keeping your back flat, lower yourself until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position by pushing your feet into the floor through your heels. Your hips and torso should rise together. Repeat 10 to 15 times for 1 set. Work up to 3 sets, 3 times a week. To add difficultly, hold some light dumbbells in each hand.

2. The Glute Activation Lunge
This move is the Neil Patrick Harris of exercises—it does everything, building strength even as it improves balance and flexibility. “By crossing the front leg across the body and twisting in the opposite direction, you’re activating your outer glute more than you would in a traditional lunge,” says Ratliff, “and that will help you build the strength to stand from a seated position on the floor. The rotation also improve flexibility in the opposite hip, boosting your range of motion there.”

Stand with your feet together and arms raised in front of you to shoulder height. Pull your shoulders down and back toward your hips. With your right foot, step across your body to the 3 o’clock position. Lunge from this position by bending at the hips until your right knee is directly over the second toe of your right foot and your left knee is bent and your left heel is off the ground. As you lunge, rotate your arms and torso in the opposite direction of the lunge movement. This increases the load on your glutes. Finally, push off with your front leg, activating your thigh and butt muscles to return to your upright, starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg to complete 1 rep. Do 10 to 15 reps. Work up to 3 sets, 3 times a week.

3. The Push-Up

Photo by Mitch Mandel

It’s a classic, sure—but what does the push-up it have to do with sitting down and standing up? It boosts trunk strength. “And as your trunk strength increases, so does your overall stability, which you need when you’re getting up from the ground,” says Ratliff. (If a standard push-up is too difficult, start with an elevated push-up instead.)

Lie on your stomach with your hands directly under your shoulders and your fingers facing forward. Engage your abs and flex your ankles, tucking your toes toward your shins, then slowly lift your torso and thighs, keeping your torso and legs rigid. Next, lower your chest toward the floor, then push back to the start for 1 repetition. Work up to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps, 3 times a week.

4. Contralateral Limb Raises

Photo by Mitch Mandel

“When the muscles of the upper back, low back, and glutes are strong, posture improves and so does overall stability of the body,” says Ratliff. “And when you’re moving from a seated to a standing position and vice versa, stability can be the difference between a crumpled core and a successful longevity test.”

Lie on your stomach with your legs stretched out behind you, arms stretched out in front of you. Keep your head aligned with your spine. Exhale, and engage your abs to stabilize your spine and slowly float one arm and the opposite leg a few inches off the floor. Keep your arm and leg straight and avoid any rotation in either. Your head and torso should not move, and avoid any arching in your back. Hold this position briefly, then inhale and return to the starting position. Switch sides for one rep. Repeat 10 to 15 times for one set. Work up to 3 sets, 3 times a week.

MORE: How Strength Training Can Save Your Life

Trouble Rising

Q2. Upon arising in the morning my legs and back muscles are extremely tight and it’s somewhat difficult to straighten up while walking to the kitchen or bathroom. After 20 or 30 minutes I am okay. Could this be arthritis, or do you think I just need to stretch more? Thank you.

—Susanne, California

Stiffness can have a variety of causes, and treatment varies accordingly. Arthritis can certainly cause stiffness, but it also causes pain, and it is virtually impossible to have arthritis without pain. There is a condition of congenital insensitivity to pain, but I can only think of one arthritis patient who had it.

If you actually have congenital insensitivity to pain, or if you have pain that you didn’t mention in your question, here are some possible reasons for your problem:

  • Osteoarthritis (often described as a wear-and-tear condition) of the spine’s facet joints (the joints that link your vertebrae together) is quite common, especially in middle and older age; it causes stiffness as well as pain. Osteoarthritis is classically worse at night and causes stiffness following rest.
  • Another type of spinal arthritis that causes considerable stiffness is ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory condition that leads to fusion of the spine and low back pain. It typically starts early in life (in the late teens to early 20s), and 90 percent of the patients are men. In women, the diagnosis is often delayed until later in life, because the illness is not suspected as readily in a female.
  • A herniated disk of the lumbar spine (slipped disk of the lower back) usually causes pain, muscle spasm with stiffness, and often numbness and/or weakness of the leg if it presses on a nerve root.
  • Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological illness that causes stiffness, tremor, forward leaning of the body when walking, and a near expressionless face.
  • A rare cause of stiffness is the “stiff person syndrome” (or “stiff man syndrome”), where stiffness is progressive and severe, and there are painful cramps associated with it.

The bottom line is that you could use a thorough evaluation by a rheumatologist. If Parkinson’s disease is suspected, you should then consult a neurologist for a definitive diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. I hope this helps.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Arthritis Center.

A simple test that looks at how easy — or difficult — it is for you to sit down on the floor and then get back up may help predict your longevity, a new study shows.

Middle-aged and elderly people who needed to use both hands and knees to get up and down were almost seven times more likely to die within six years, compared to those who could spring up and down without support, according to research.

How fast can you walk 10 feet? Quick tests to see how you’re aging

Oct. 21, 201503:45

Doctors have long used the chair test — where a person stands up from a sitting position — to determine leg strength and lower body fitness of seniors. But the new test is more difficult and can be used with a younger group, said cardiologist Dr. Kathryn Berlacher, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The chair test: sitting to standing without assistance.Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

While the most important factor controlling the ease of getting down and then up is the ratio of muscle power to body weight, there are “other very relevant issues including body flexibility, balance, and motor coordination,” said Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo, a professor at Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro who worked on the study.

RELATED: Take these 4 tests to see how well you’re aging

Ultimately the test gives a quick window into a patient’s ability to function from day to day.

“Moving, for the average person, especially those who are older, and the ability to rise from the floor is very much relevant for autonomy,” Araújo said. “Imagine if your glasses went below the bed. You would need to sit on the floor to reach then and then you would need to rise.”

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

The researchers followed 2,002 adults, ages 51 to 80, for an average of 6.3 years. Sixty-eight percent were men. At the outset, each study volunteer was asked to sit down on the floor and then get up, using the least amount of support from hands, knees and other body parts.

Getting off the floor

The volunteers could score five points if they could sit down without touching their knees, legs, hands, or arms on the floor and another five points if they could get back up unaided.

They lost a point for each body part that was leaned on while getting down or up. So, people who could get down touching the floor with just one knee scored four points. If they needed to touch a hand and a knee on the floor as they were rising, they would lose two points for a score of three. If the volunteers looked wobbly on the way down or up, they lost half a point.

From the floor to standing with assistance. Sorry, that’s minus two points for using a hand and foot!Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

The most agile ended up with a combined score of 10 while those who couldn’t get down or up at all were scored with a zero.

During the course of the study 159 of the volunteers died, with the majority of the deaths in the group that had the most trouble getting up and down.

A person’s score matched well with risk of death.

From the floor to standing without assistance. No hands!Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Are you a 10?

Zero to 3

People with this score were 6.5 times as likely to die during the course of the study, compared to people who scored from 8 to 10.

3.5 to 5 Those who had scores of 3.5 to 5.5 were 3.8 times as likely to die as the high scorers

6 to 7.4 1.8 times more likely to die than those with the highest scores.

10The highest score. “Just two subjects that scored 10 died in the follow-up of about six years,” says Araújo. If someone between the ages of 51 and 80 scores 10, “the chances of being alive in the next six years are quite good,” he said.

No More Reading Glasses? New Implant May Help With Aging Eyes

Sept. 13, 201600:56

RELATED: 7 anti-aging foods you should be eating

The test may be most valuable as a tool for primary care physicians to show patients they need to work on their health, Berlacher said.

“These days most don’t exercise and if you ask them whether they walk up stairs they tell you about knee and ankle pain. So it’s hard to truly assess them.”

The study was published in European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2012.

This story was originally published on NBCNews.com

Difficulty Standing from Chair

Some people are able to stand easily from a seated position but find that their knee is stiff and takes a few steps to loosen up. This is called startup stiffness and is usually a sign of arthritis in the knee. Other people find it difficult to stand up when they have been sitting in a chair or on a couch.

Standing up from a sitting position is quite a complex manoeuvre. You have to have enough movement in your knees to get your feet under the chair, your thigh muscles have to be strong enough to lift your bodyweight, your balance has to be good enough to keep you upright and your arms have to be strong enough to push up on armrests if you have problems with any of the above.

The most common cause of loss of motion in the knee is arthritis. If you are unable to bend your knees beyond ninety degrees of flexion you will not be able to get your feet under the chair to give yourself a biomechanical advantage lifting yourself from the chair. This means that your thigh muscles have to work harder and generally speaking people with arthritic knees tend to have some muscle wasting as well. If you combine this with pain from the arthritis, which also leads to weakness, the result is significant trouble standing from a low chair or couch.

A meniscal tear can also lead to pain and loss of motion which can create difficulty standing from a chair. This tends to respond well to arthroscopic knee surgery whereas the response from keyhole surgery to an arthritic knee is far less predictable.

If you are having trouble then changing your chair combined with a physiotherapy programme may be of benefit to you. Generally speaking higher chairs are easier to get out of than lower chairs.

Always try to sit in a chair with armrests that come all the way to the front of the chair. Armrests help to provide a handhold to push up on when rising from a sitting position. Make sure the chair has strong enough armrests to support your weight and that the legs are stable.

One way of rising from the chair is to:

  1. Place your hands firmly near the front of the armrests
  2. Lean forwards away from the back of the chair
  3. Move your bum near to the edge of the seat
  4. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart. Keep your feet in line beneath your knees or slightly tucked under the chair
  5. Bring your head and shoulders in line above your knees
  6. Push with both arms until you are standing

The first line of treatment usually involves tablets, injections and physiotherapy with arthroscopic knee surgery and total knee replacement being used when other modalities have failed.

What Causes Hip Pain After Sitting? (And What To Do)

Check out this video on how to improve your work station.

For some employees, a standing desk may be an option.

Can A Standing Desk Help My Hip Pain?

The increasing popularity of standing desks can impact your posture and hip pain as well.

“Make sure that you vary your posture by shifting your stance and placing one foot on a small stool for a few minutes and then alternating to the other side,” Helton-Groce said. “Avoid static postures, whenever possible, if standing.”

Posture isn’t the only thing that impact hip pain. Helton-Groce added wearing proper shoes can make a difference in how you feel at the end of a work day.

“Make sure that your shoes are in good shape,” she said. “Consider new insoles if your shoes are older. Oftentimes, hip pain can be magnified from older, worn shoes with little cushion.”

Does Arthritis Cause Stiff Hips When Sitting?

While arthritis in the hip joint can cause stiffness, the way the stiffness occurs is different from stiffness from tight muscles. A hip sore from arthritis typically has more stiffness or pain in the morning. That joint stiffness can generally improve with gentle movement but may be aggravated from vigorous activity.

“The best thing with arthritis, if you’re stiff, is to try gentle walking and stretching to warm up the joints,” Zambon said.

How Can You Stretch Your Hips At Your Desk?

Even if you’re at your desk all day, there are seated hip stretches that can help relieve stiffness in the hip flexors and tight hamstrings. These stretches include:

Seated Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Begin sitting upright in a chair.
  • Move to the side of the chair, extending your leg back backward.
  • Hold onto the chair or another sturdy object for balance
  • Gently rock your pelvis forward to feel a stretch in the front of your hip.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

  • Begin sitting upright in a chair.
  • Straighten one leg.
  • Lean your trunk forward, hinging at your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg.
  • Keep your knee straight during the stretch. Do not arch your back.

Seated Figure 4 Piriformis Stretch

  • Sit upright in a chair with both feet on the ground.
  • Bring the ankle of one leg up onto the knee of your opposite leg.
  • Apply a gentle pressure with one hand on the top of your bent knee
  • Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your buttocks.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and back straight during the exerciseo

What Other Stretches Help Stiff Hips?

If you’re able to close the door to your office or carve out time at home to stretch, these stretches are other alternatives to stretching your hip flexors and hamstrings:

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Start in a standing position, one leg in front of you.
  • The leg you are going to stretch will be positioned behind your body. Rest hands on hips.
  • Keeping your back straight and upright, squeeze your buttock muscles and slowly shift your weight forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of your hip.
  • Your hips and shoulders should face forward. Do not arch your back.

Standing Hamstring Stretch on Chair

  • Begin in a standing upright position with a chair or step in front of your body.
  • Lift one leg to rest your heel on the chair with a very slight bend in your knee.
  • Bend at your hips, leaning your trunk forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your upper leg
  • Keep your back straight during the stretch.

Supine Figure 4 Piriformis Stretch

  • Lie on your back with both legs bent and your feet on the ground.
  • Lift one leg, placing that ankle on your opposite knee
  • Apply a gentle pressure to your bent knee with your hand. You should feel a stretch in your buttocks.
  • Keep your low back flat on the floor during the stretch.

Supine Posterior Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet resting flat on the floor.
  • Slowly bend your low back and tilt your pelvis backward into the floor, then return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Make sure to only move your pelvis and low back and keep the rest of your body relaxed.

Beginner Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet resting flat on the floor.
  • Lift up through your pelvis as you exhale, inhale and slowly lower back down, and repeat.
  • Maintain a neutral spine, and keep your upper back on the floor during the exercise.

It’s important to remember with these hip exercises to keep your back in the correct position, as noted for each exercise.

What Other Steps Can Help Reduce Hip Pain?

Movement can make the difference in reducing hip pain at work. Keep your muscles loose by taking standing or walking breaks frequently.

“I recommend if you are in a sitting job, you get up every hour,” Zambon said. “Walk or stretch your hip flexors or hamstrings and hip joints as well. Even 5 to 10 minutes of walking can help, even if it’s at lunch or after work before you get into the car. At the end of the day, do a good hamstring stretch or hip flexor stretch, as well as some gentle core work.”

Zambon suggests simple core exercises such as pelvic tilts or bridging (if back pain is not an issue) to help stretch those key hip areas.

“If you’re having pain you can’t relieve within 30 minutes after you leave work, gentle stretching on your own should do the trick,” Zambon said. “If you have pain when you wake up, or with whatever you’re doing progresses through the evening, it’s a good time to contact a physician.”

Why getting up out of a chair can reveal how long you have left to live

According to their reckoning, a 53-year-old man who can hold the flamingo pose with his eyes closed for 10 seconds has a greater life expectancy than the man who topples over. Based on studies that started in 1946, the faller-over is 12 times more likely to die in the next 13 years than the chap who remains upright past the 10-second mark. Which elevates this exercise from a gentle gymnasium workout into the equivalent of having a gipsy fortune-teller take one look at your palm and offer you your money back.

So what do my wobbles mean? More to the point, if I’m going to end up in the swingbin of history by the time I’m 66, am I wasting my time paying cash into my pension each month? And please could I have another go at the test, this time with my eyes open? “The whole point of having your eyes closed is that you can’t rely on visual cues,” says Dr Cooper. “You are dependent on your muscles and your natural strength.”

Again, therefore, I repeat the question: what’s wrong with me? “It doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with you,” she replies. “On the other hand, it suggests that even before symptoms become noticeable, failure to compete the test efficiently could be a marker of undetected disease or future disability.”

I wish I hadn’t asked. Perhaps I’ll do better on the next test. This involves sitting in a chair, and then seeing how many times you can stand up and sit down again in the space of a minute. Men with the lowest risk of early death performed more than 39 of the movements in the time given, while the worst managed 22.

While heeding Dr Cooper’s no-warm-up rules, I ask if, instead of looking at my watch, I can programme the kitchen microwave to run for a minute. Its supportive, whirring noise will spur me on to greater athleticism.

And I am proud, dear reader, to report that in less time than it takes to heat a ramekin of baked beans, I manage to complete no fewer than 48 stand-ups and sit-downs. It leaves me breathless, but not so unable to speak that I can’t utter a croak of triumph when it turns out that I’m ahead of the Grim Reaper.

All the same, though, I’m still worried by my wobbling. “The work we have done does show how, if taken in mid-life , these measurements are related to eventual mortality,” says Dr Cooper.

So what’s the point of this early-warning system if all it does is tell you how little time you’ve got left?

“The point,” says Dr Cooper, “is that you shouldn’t wait until you experience a deterioration in your physical capabilities in order to do something about it. These tests allow you to see how you compare with other people the same age as you.”

So does that mean those with the lowest scores should make a point of rushing round to their GP, demanding head-to-toe examinations and organ-scanning? “That’s not what we are advocating, no,” she replies. (GP receptionists of the UK, breathe a sigh of relief). “What does seem clear, though, is that increasing activity just a little when you’re younger could pay dividends when you’re older.”

I’ll take my hat off to that advice. At least 50 times.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *