Going From Down to Up


I was in a café in the small town of Motley, Minnesota the other day. In the booth behind me were two older women. When they had paid their bill and were just about to leave I heard one of them say to the other, “it’s so hard to go from down to up!”

I wasn’t surprised to hear the woman’s comment. As a professional Alexander Technique Teacher, I am trained to observe how people move. And I see so many people struggling needlessly to get out of chairs, and not just older folks.

As we get older moving from sitting to standing does get more challenging. Balance deteriorates as we get older, as well as our muscle strength. However, with a little knowledge and practice, you can get more skillful and efficient at going from down to up.

Find a chair to sit in and come to sit at the front of the seat. Allow your feet to rest on the floor in front of you.

To go from sitting to standing you basically have to get your head and shoulders from over your seat to over your feet.

So, where are your feet relative to your seat?

They are in front of you or forward of your seat.

Therefore, in order to go from your seat to your feet you have to go forward AND up, not just up.

And that is what I find is most people’s biggest problem with getting out of chairs: they try to go up, not forward AND up.

When they try to go up they usually grasp onto the hand rests, table, or whatever else they can get their hands on and try to push themselves up. That requires a lot of strength and effort. And once they are up they are over their heels and out of balance so then and only then do they allow themselves to shift Forward.

woman struggling to stand up

The arrow indicates my intended direction of movement which is up. Notice how my head is retracted back onto my spine and the back of my neck is compressed.

It will be easier if you:

  • Stop before you want to stand and take a moment to redirect your movement.
  • Remember where you want to go: forward AND up.
  • Think of a spotlight shining from the top of your head. Point that spotlight forward AND up and allow it to move in that direction (realize that you will drop your gaze a bit in order to do this) Your head will move and your body will follow.
  • When your weight is over your feet you can simply unfold your legs to come to standing.


woman standing up with ease

The arrow indicates my intended direction of movement which is Forward and Up. Notice that my head and spine are both moving in the same direction and the back of my neck is not compressed.

So, remember to stop and allow yourself to move forward AND up.

Nose over Toes is another short phrase that can help you remember.

Being able to move from sitting to standing is something you want to be able to do as long as you can in order to live independently.

Stop struggling. Get skilled in the art of going forward AND up.

Image by greissdesign from Pixabay 

2 comments… add one

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  • Joanie Mercer May 25, 2017, 6:42 am

    great article! thanks for your commitment to our profession, Joanie

    • Lauren Hill May 25, 2017, 8:49 am

      Thanks Joanie. You’re welcome.


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