Healthy Back Tips

September 2006

Sit To Stand

Sitting to standing: Sit to stand transitions often aggravate many types of back conditions. The possible reasons for low back pain during sit to stand transitions may relate to: 1 – increased disc pressure after sustained sitting (especially in a rounded or slumped posture), 2 – an increase in facet joint compression when attaining an erect posture and/or 3 – increased activity of the paraspinal muscles without sufficient assistance from abdominals or proper utilization of the legs. The following recommendations are suggested to reduce discomfort during sit to stand transfers:

1) Scoot to the edge of the chair. (See Figure A below.)
2) Place both feet firmly on the ground at least hip width apart. Stagger your feet (with the stronger leg in back) to provide increased stability and balance.
3) Pre-set your abdominal muscles (draw in belly button).
4) Hip hinge forward ("nose over toes") while maintaining your spine in neutral and bending from your hips rather than your back. You will feel a weight shift from your sit bones to your feet. (See Figure B below.)
5) Drive through your legs and push down on the armrests to bring yourself to a standing position.(See Figure C below.)


Car transfers: Getting in and out of a car is also a sit to stand transition with the additional component of twisting. To reduce the amount of twist in your back, pre-set your abdominal muscles then place your feet one at a time onto the ground to get out of the car. Your hips and shoulders should turn together as you do this. Then follow the instructions as above for sit to stand. The same goes for getting into your car – sit down first then walk your feet into the car one at a time.

Figure A: Steps 1 – 3 noted above

Figure B: Step 4 noted above

Figure C: Step 5 noted above


For more information specific to your condition or gardening situation, contact the Atlanta Back Clinic, or call us at 770-491-6004 to set up an appointment with a physical therapist.