Movements that we take for granted can become harder with age, weight-gain or injury. The ability to get up off the floor is just one of those.
Regular strengthening exercises and using the right technique can make the world of difference and give you the freedom and independence you deserve.
In this article, we are going to run through:
- The Best Techniques for getting up off the floor and/or out of a chair.
- 5 Best Exercises to strengthen the muscles that should be powering you out of a chair or off the floor.
- Sit-To-Stand / Squat
- Wall Squats / Wall Sits
- Single-Leg Standing
Technique – Lets Get the Basics Right
A follower of PhysioPrescription emailed me last week asking me what he can do to help him get up off the floor and out of a chair better.
Not being able to do simple things like getting off of the floor or a chair without a lot of pain and effort limits our lives.
A lot of people actually just don’t get onto the floor for fear of getting stuck there!
Fortunately, there are some great techniques and easy exercises that you can use to improve these.
First of all, you need to be doing it the right way (which is the easiest and most efficient way).
If you aren’t, you will just be battling away and wasting energy – potentially leading to injury.
1. Sit – To – Stand
Getting up out of a chair is something that is very often done wrong and here are some great tips to improve how you do it.
- Lean forward at the hips
- Look up
- Nose over toes
- Drive up!
This technique utilizes your body weight going froward.
You need to lean forward so that you nose goes over past your toes.
This will start you falling forward, and then all you need to do is push up with your legs to stand up-right.
Remember if you are looking down, you might go down, so keep you chest up-right and focus on the top of the wall.
In the following section you will see how this can be utilized as one of a great exercises to help get off the floor by strengthening your muscles.
2. How to Get up Off the Floor
The main thing here is to:
- Roll onto your side and plant your hands on the floor
- Push your upper body up, so that your arms and straight
- Pivot onto your knees so that your hip comes off the ground – This will get you into four-point kneeling
- From there you need to bring one foot forward and plant it – from there you can drive up with that leg.
Watch the video here for a good demo of how to get both down safely and up again:
Now that we know the right techniques of getting off of the floor or a chair. Let us talk long term and discuss exercises you can incorporate in your daily routine to strengthen the muscles that help you get off of the floor or chair easier.
Strengthening exercises, when done regularly can make so many daily activities a lot easier. And I don’t mean going to the gym and throwing iron around. Theae are some great exercises that you can do at home that will help you get up off the floor or chair easier.
1. Sit-To-Stand / Sqauat
Great functional exercise. If you are finding it difficult to stand up out of a seat, then one of the best ways to improve is practice.
Build up the muscle memory using the correct technique.
Sitting down into a chair and standing up again is almost like doing a good squat.
You can use the same technique to do it right.
Now, I know that not everyone can start doing this straight away, so I have included two levels:
Level 1 (Beginner): Modified Sit-To-Stand
Add a pillow or a cushion to the chair: Here, we make it easier by adding a pillow or cushion to the chair. This raises up the platform and means less distance for you to go up, making it easier on your legs.
Now, I want you to use the correct sit-to-stand technique I taught you above, to do this exercise.
Stand up from the chair, not using your arms (your legs are only going to get stronger by working at it).
Slowly sit back down again using the same technique as when you came up (except in reverse!)
This is a great one for strengthening your posterior chain and is very functional.
Remember to make it easier just place cushions, or solid books etc on the chair seat to raise the platform.
Do 3 sets of 10 – that means do ten sit-to-stands, have 1 minute break and repeat 2 more times.
Level 2 (Advanced): Full Sit-To-Stand
For the advanced level hold a small weight in your hands in front of you, start with 1-3kg.
This the same as Level 1 but without the cushion or pillow to raise it up. You are doing it right onto the chair seat but adding weights to give those muscles more resistance to push through. This will make them stronger in a long run.
Your extensors (Glutes, back muscles, hamstrings etc) are what really drive you upwards and straighten you up at the hip and torso.
This is a great exercise to do to get them working for YOU and the good thing is that it can be done on a firm bed or bench, as well as the ground.
Bridge increases leg strength, glute activation and decreases back pain.
How to do it:
- Lying on your back, on the ground, firm bed or bench, bend your knees up and place your feet on the ground.
- Pushing through your heels and keeping your back straight, lift your bottom off the ground
- Lower down again, in control the entire time
- Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.
Tip: If you get back pain doing this or hamstring spasm, try moving your feet in closer to your bottom – this will likely make it easier.
This exercise builds great control and strength through your hips.
How to do it:
- From a standing start, take a step forward, planting your front foot
- As shown in the picture, bend the back knee towards the ground, keeping your toes on the ground.
- Control this all the way with your front leg – this will be doing a lot of the work
- Only go down as far as you can comfortably and safely
- Push off with your front leg so that you come back to standing
- Repeat 5 times on each side for 3 sets.
4. Wall Squats / Wall Sits
These exercises are great for targeting your quads (thighs), these, along with your extensors help drive you upwards, straightening out your knees.
These are easier than the name lends to thinking but as earlier, there are two levels. This helps for you start where you feel comfortable and don’t feel like being thrown straight in the deep end
Level 1 (Beginner): Squat and Hold
How to do it:
- Lean against a wall with your feet at least a foot out from the wall
- Slide your back down the wall, controlling this with your legs until you are about halfway down
- Only go down as far as you are comfortable with!
- Hold this for 5 seconds and then slide back up again
- Repeat 10 times
Level 2 (Advanced): Swiss Ball Wall Squats
You will need a swiss ball (also called gym balls among other things) for this good little exercise
How to do it:
- Place the ball against the wall and lean against it at the height of your low-back – make sure your feet are out from the wall
- Slowly squat down, keeping the pressure against the ball
- Only go down as far as is comfortable.
- Return back up and repeat 10 times for 3 sets
5. Single Leg Standing
This exercise helps increase your balance and hip control which would help getting off of the floor easily.
Level 1 (Beginner):
How to do it:
- Stand on one leg on the floor
- Don’t let your legs touch each other
- Goal: hold for 1 minute
Tip: if you cannot hold this very well, you can start with one finger on a wall or bench close to you
Level 2 (Advanced):
How to do it:
- Stand on a wobble board, dura disc or bosu ball on one leg
- Aim to hold this for 1 minute or build up to it
- If you cannot afford one of these you can also fold up a towel and stand on that – rolling it up firm to make it harder
It isn’t until we can’t do simple tasks like getting off of the floor or a chair, that we really appreciate how important they are.
Follow the techniques mentioned above and start strengthening your muscles to see amazing results.
As I mentioned above, these exercises are effective if they are done regularly, so make it routine and stick to it.
Aim to do these exercises at least 4 times per week and you will really notice the difference.
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Note: It is always best to consult with your GP first if you have any medical conditions and have someone standing by when trying these exercises. Also take this Floor to Stand Challenge to identify what is the level of effort you would need.