How to Stand Up and Sit Down (the Right Way, and Why it Matters)

Standing and sitting seem almost too simple to bother reading about (much less writing). But consider:

  1. How many times you stand up or sit down during the day. If you work in an office or another setting where you are getting up and down from a chair during the day, it adds up quickly.
  2. How easy it is for small things to make a big difference to our overall health. As an example, consider what happens when a muscle is used incorrectly. Over time, the pain and damage from this certainly takes a toll on our body and can take months to diagnose and correct. The little aches and pains we feel on a daily basis are often caused by the little motions that we’ve made into habits over the course of our lives.

It should not surprise us, therefore, that using poor form when standing or sitting, and thus engaging the body in ways that are not helpful for it can prove harmful over the course of time. The good news is that being mindful and making some small changes can reduce that harm and make standing up and sitting down a less painful process.

Often when people stand or sit, they put the burden of their motion into the low back and quadriceps, which affect the knees.

Dr. Hubbell from our office demonstrates proper form when sitting and standing. This method takes the toll off of the low back and quads and puts in into the squat muscles – that is, your glutes and hamstrings – which are designed exactly for the purpose of standing and sitting.

Standing Up

Normal sitting position
Sitting Position
Here is what you should look like before you stand. Note the posture: back straight. Note also that we are using a chair which does not have armrests. While those can certainly make it easier to get up and to control your sitting down, we should always prefer to be able to make our motions without the need for supports if possible.
Scoot to edge of seat
Edge of Seat
Scoot all the way to the edge of your seat. Of course, you may need to scoot your seat back first to do this. As you are doing this, move your feet forward. The goal is to have the edge of your glutes on the chair, and a 90-degree angle in your knees.
Feet shoulder width apart
Position Feet
Ensure that your feet are shoulder width apart. This provides a solid base of support, but is also crucial for engaging the proper muscles. You are essentially performing a squat here. The muscles you use when you squat will vary depending on the position of your feet, so be aware.
Keep back straight
Back Straight
Bend slightly at your low back to keep your back straight and use your squatting muscles (glutes and hamstrings) to push up. Note that your feet need to be farther away from the seat than expected, as we mentioned earlier. Keeping your hands on your back may help you to be more mindful of your body’s positioning.
Check your form, be aware
Evaluate how you did. What muscles did you use? If you felt pressure on your low back standing up then you likely didn’t use your squatting muscles. All is not lost – try again next time. Put a reminder on a Post-It note in front of your chair if you can.

Sitting Down

Place back of legs next to seat
Position Feet
To sit down, place the back of your legs next to the seat. Since you are not planning to sit down on the edge of the seat, but the back of it, your feet will be closer than they were when you were standing up.
Controlled squat
Controlled Squat Down
Use your squatting muscles to lower a bit back and then down. Be sure to not start lowering down first. Also, you should not feel like you bounced on the seat. Control is key. Use your arms to help keep balance if this is too difficult to start.
Seated Position
You made it! Now the battle for your posture begins 🙂

Skeptical? Try it! If you have been experiencing low back or knee pain when standing up and sitting down, this method may be a real help. And if you have any questions or concerns and would like to make an appointment to discuss your chiropractic needs, please don’t hesitate to call.

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