Do You Get Knee Pain When Standing Up From A Sitting Position?
Many people have knee pain when standing up from a sitting position, especially when they've been sitting a long time. Watch the video to learn simple tips to stand up from sitting without knee pain...
Knee Pain When Standing Up From Sitting Is Common
Have you ever wondered "Why do my knees hurt when I stand up from sitting?"
If so you're not alone.
Having knee pain when standing up from a sitting position is a common problem as people age, especially if you've been sitting for a long time or if you're standing up from sitting on a low couch or chair.
Many people with knee arthritis also get knee pain when standing up from the toilet, which is when the problem really starts to hit home.
Have no fear though.
If standing up from sitting hurts your knees, there is hope to be able to get up from a chair comfortably again.
Why Do I Get Knee Pain When Standing Up From A Sitting Position?
When figuring out why standing up from sitting hurts your knees, there are two main factors to consider:
I'll cover both problems in the sections below. However, keep in mind is that you largely can't change your anatomy, but you CAN change the way your knees function so that they don't hurt when you stand up from sitting.
Anatomical Causes Of Knee Pain When Standing Up From A Sitting Position
The anatomical cause of knee pain when standing up from sitting include:
- Knee Arthritis - wearing down of the knee knee cartilage.
- Chondromalacia Patella - early changes in the cartilage under the kneecap. A precursor to kneecap arthritis.
These are largely features you see on an x-ray where you have cartilage loss in your knee.
The bad news is, there's very little that you can do to change your x-ray. The good news is that there are many people who have knee arthritis that can stand up from sitting without their knees hurting.
That's because the function of your legs is more important than the anatomy in determining whether or not you'll have knee pain standing up from a sitting position.
Functional Causes Of Knee Pain When Standing Up From A Sitting Position
There are two main reasons why you may get knee pain when standing up from a sitting position:
Overuse of the quadriceps muscles
Too much side to side movement
Overuse Of The Quadriceps Muscles
When you stand up from a sitting position, you use a combination of your knee extensor muscles (quadriceps) and you hip extensor muscles (glutes and hamstrings).
You kneecap (patella) sits inside of your quadriceps muscles, and when you use your quadriceps muscles, it can compress the back of the patella against the thigh bone (femur) causing patellofemoral pain.
The longer you've been sitting (especially with a bent knee), the stiffer your quadriceps muscles get. The end result is that it's more difficult to stand up when you want to. If you've been sitting for a long time, you may even get sharp knee pain when standing up from a sitting position.
However, if you use your gluteal muscles more when you stand up from sitting, you don't have to rely as much on your quadriceps. In turn, you'll create less compression of the kneecap on the femur, and you'll have less patellofemoral pain (pain on front of the knee) when standing up from sitting.
Keep reading for instructions on HOW to use your glutes more when you stand up from a sitting position.
Too Much Side To Side Movement
Whatever the cause, keeping your knees straight ahead when standing up from sitting can help.
How Do I Stop Knee Pain When Standing Up From A Sitting Position?
Fortunately, some small changes in the technique that you use to stand up from sitting can make dramatic changes in how much pain you experience.
Use these tips to help you stand up from a sitting position without knee pain
Scoot to the front edge of the chair.
Bend your knees to get your feet underneath of you.
Lean forward to bring your center of gravity over your feet. Your bottom should almost naturally starts to rise up as your head goes forward.
Straighten your knees and allow your pelvis to roll under you pushing your hips forward. This allows you to stand from a sitting position using the strong muscles in your hips rather than your quadriceps muscles in your thighs. Using too much force from the "quads" can cause compression of your kneecap on your thigh bone, causing pain on the front of the knee standing from a sitting position.
Make sure not to let your knees buckle inwards. Keep your knees aligned over your toes, or even slightly turned out if needed. Sometimes I even tell clients to put their elbows between their knees as a reminder. This helps you prevent pain on the inside of the knee or outside of the knee when standing from a sitting position.
Exercises To Help With Knee Pain Standing Up From A Sitting Position
Stretching Your Quadriceps
If you have stiff quadriceps muscles (especially your recuts femoris), stretching your quadriceps and hip flexors is important. Read our post about how to stretch your hip flexors and rectus femoris.
Stretching Your Calves
In order to get your feet underneath of you as described above, you need to have adequate flexibility in your ankle joints and calf muscles.
Having stiff calf muscles is quite common. Most people don't take the time to stretch their calf muscles regularly. Furthermore, of the people who do stretch their calves, most do it incorrectly. Read our post about how to stretch your calf muscles correctly
Strengthen Your Glutes
If your glutes (butt muscles) are stronger, you can use your glutes more and quadriceps less when standing up from sitting.
Just practicing standing up from sitting using the technique in the video above is actually a great strengthening exercise for your gluteus maximus.
Your gluteus maximus, as the name implies, is the largest of the gluteal muscles. It's job is to extend the hip - move the thigh backwards relative to the pelvis. Or, more relevant to standing up from sitting, to move the pelvis forward relative to the thigh.
However, you also have other smaller gluteal muscles (the gluteus medius and minimus), which are responsible for controlling the side-to-side movement of legs.
Two easy says to strengthen the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus include:
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Knee Pain When Standing Up From Sitting On The Floor
If your knee pain is pretty mild, you may do just fine with standing up from sitting in a chair.
However, if you get onto the floor to play with your children or grandchildren, you might get knee pain when standing up from sitting on the floor. If that's the case, these tips might help.
Pay Attention To Your Sitting Position
Sitting in a position that puts less stress on your knees will help when you go to stand back up.
Sitting Positions To Avoid
Sitting with both legs out to one side
Kneeling and sitting all the way back on your heels
Instead, Try These Sitting Positions
Sitting cross-legged ("criss-cross-Applesauce" or "Indian style")
Sitting with both legs straight out in front of you.
Back support helps if you can lean up against a wall or couch, or use a floor chair.
If your hamstrings, aren't flexible enough, putting a pillow under your knees can help
Combining the two above and sitting with your feet in front of you with your ankles crossed and knees out
Use these tips to stand up from sitting on the floor
Just like standing up from a chair, using your body to create leverage can help you stand up from the floor more comfortably.
First, you'll want to roll over into a kneeling position. Then use the tips in our post about stand standing up from kneeling without knee pain to stand up after sitting on the floor.
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Here are some other posts about how to relieve knee pain that you might enjoy:
Do You Get Knee Pain At Night While Sleeping? Check Our our great post on "How To Relieve Back Pain, Hip Pain, & Knee Pain At Night While Sleeping"!
Do You Get Knee Pain When Squatting? Learn to Squat Without Knee Pain!
Do You Get Back Pain When Standing Up From A Sitting Position?
If so, check our our post "Relieve Back Pain When Standing Up From A Sitting Position"