Getting off the Floor – without hurting your knees.

It is difficult to sit on the floor. It is even harder if you lose your balance and end up on the floor.. Or you happen to take some yoga classes or Jazz classes for entertainment. While practicing, you find yourself doing some cool moves on the floor. All that is fine, till you can do it or you are not hurting yourself. But the question comes, how to get up from this position, how to come back to an upright position, safely, without pain, without hurting joints??

This question is important particularly to people who have bad knees or hips, have arthritis, or have painful joints. The geriatric population also has difficulty getting off the floor due to age-related changes in flexibility and bony structures.

Why sit on the floor:

On the other hand, though, there are many benefits of sitting on the floor.

If you are a teacher or have a toddler in a tote, you will end up on the floor by default!! As we know, many yoga poses are done in a sitting position, meditation is preferred to be done while sitting on the floor. Some cultures, actually recommend crossed legged sitting for many family activities. Recently, I discussed some pregnancy exercises which involves sitting on the floor even with a cute big belly!

Disadvantages of using improper position while getting up from the floor:

Once you sit on the floor, the question comes, how do you get up safely. As a physical therapist, I am going to tell you that I see people getting up of the floor all the time – the only issue is they are not using correct body positioning. We know that correct body positioning is extremely important to prevent not only those small aches and pain but also keeps you away from developing any chronic issues.

Getting off the floor in a wrong position can put extra pressure on knees, hips or back. This can damage your joints. Use of a wrong mechanism can also speed the process of wear and tear. Moreover, a wrong method can cause loss of balance, which may result in a fall and injury.

So what is a correct method of getting up from the floor:

Here I am going to discuss the step by step position from lying on your back to come to a fully upright position.

Starting position: on your back/ Supine position:

  1. Roll your body to side lying :

When you are lying on your back (no matter on the bed or on the floor), it is recommended that you go to a side-lying position first before you get up.

Here, we are going to say that you are going on to the left side from your back, and we are going to consider your right side being the stronger side.

2.  Push down with your upper hand to come to side sitting position:

In our example, you are pushing down with your right hand and bring your upper body into the side sitting position.


A person with shoulder pain, wrist pain, arthritis in these joints can have difficulty to come to this position. It is because they are unable to push down using arm and forearm muscles.

Also, a person may feel pain in hips or back in a side sitting position. There can be many reasons like arthritis, labrum pain, tight hip capsule, tightness in & around hip and pelvis area can cause this pain.


Below are a few exercises that you can perform to strengthen the muscles and be comfortable in the above position.

  1. Isometric exercises for wrist, shoulder, hips, and back to reduce pain
  2. Strengthening exercises for elbow and wrist
  3. Stretching exercises for pelvis and hip muscles.

3. Pull your legs in/ bend your knees as if you are bringing heels towards buttocks:

This is comparatively an easy task but may cause pain around the knee, or hip area. Also, it is difficult to bend both knees and bring them all the way to your butt with arthritis or swollen joints. You can bring them as close to the butt as possible, or perform the movement in the maximum pain-free range possible. Don’t hurt yourself or overdo it.

Difficulties: Arthritis, limited range of motion in knees can make this task painful or difficult.


Knee exercises for OA

Stretching of hip and pelvis.

4. Getting onto all Fours:

From the step 3 position, get into quadruped position, or on all fours —> bring two wrists on the floor, rock your pelvis and bring both knees on the floor. Knees should be hips width apart and wrist should be shoulder width apart.


Taking some weight directly on the knees and wrist might be challenging for some individuals.


A range of motion exercises for knee

A range of motion exercises for wrist

Strengthening exercises for knees, hips muscles – mainly gules and quads

Strengthening exercises for shoulder, elbow, and wrist, mainly deltoid and triceps.

5. Bring stronger knee forward, so hip, knee and ankle make 90 – 90-90 degree angle with each other.

This is a challenging task. In our example, we are considering the right side to be stronger, so you are bringing right leg up, so your knee is 90 degrees bent, and feet are firmly flat on the ground. Shift your weight to the right side of the body.

Your left leg is behind your body. Knee bent dorsum of the foot on the floor.


People with arthritis or lack of range of motion feel pain or difficulty with this movement. Mainly the first half of this task, where a person takes some weight on the left knee, will be difficult to perform. Once the weight is shifted to the right side, a person should feel comfortable and no pain.


Balance exercises

Strengthening exercises for knee and hips

Wall push-ups, lunges, squats etc to improve the strength of a weaker side.

6. Apply downward pressure with both your hands on to the thigh area of the stronger leg. Use your trunk muscles and leg muscles to gently lift your body up.

This is the main transitioning act of sit to stand. And therefore, can be the most difficult to perform. You push down on the thigh (remember not on the knees) of your upwards leg ( right leg in this example) and stand up. While pushing down, you are using your buttock muscles, leg muscles, and trunk muscles to lift your body in upright position. At the same time, you are sliding your left leg closer to the right foot to come to full upright standing.

This is a tricky stage and needs a good amount of muscle strength. If your muscles are not strong enough, or you are unable to get yourself up, use a steady surface like a sofa or a chair to apply pressure and assist you in standing position.


Weakness in the knee, hip, or leg muscles. Obesity makes this task difficult to perform. Poor balance is another challenge a person needs to work on in order to perform this task.


Balance exercises

A range of motion exercises for hip and knee

Strengthening exercises for hips, knees, trunk muscles

So this is it… You are in standing position, without hurting your joints. Now, I know at first, this task feels harder than what you are used to doing on daily basis. It may take some work and needs some exercises to get used to performing this task. But the end result is saving your joint cartilages, and no difficulty once you learn the movement.

If you are already in a sitting position, skip step 1 to 3, and start from step 4 to come to standing position.

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NOTE: The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.