Updated: Mar 29, 2020
In our previous blog we looked at some tips on avoiding trips and falls.This generated several questions about how do you get back up?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, the most important being whether you were injured in the fall. When in doubt, it’s always safest to call for help or 999 if you are obviously injured.
In this blog we take a look at the extremely tricky subject of getting back up following a fall. We will take a look at the normal sequence for getting up following a fall, things to consider if someone is trying to lift or assist you and finally what exercises you can do to help you train the strength for getting back up.
How do I get up following a fall?
If you find yourself asking this question then it is incredibly likely that you have already lost the specific strength and balance needed to get up from the floor. However, if you do find yourself on the floor and struggling to get back up the following sequence may well help. You cannot avoid using this sequence (you will always have to push through one leg and you will always need to push with the arms) so if you realise you cannot do this, then the latter parts of this blog may be of more interest.
If haven’t broken any bones or experienced a serious injury, head for the nearest bench, step, tree stump, or piece of stable furniture. A chair is ideal.
Slowly roll onto your side and then get onto your hands and knees and crawl to the chair / item. Shuffle on your bottom if your knees hurt to crawl, or drag yourself if necessary.
Get into a kneeling position and place your hands on the seat of the chair.
Choose your strongest leg and move that knee forward to place your foot on the floor. You should end up in a kneeling 'lunge' position with your hands still on the chair seat, etc. for support.
Using your arms and legs simultaneously, push yourself up.
How Do I Help Someone get up following a fall?
This is a more preferable situation as there is a higher degree of success if somebody else is present. The sequence is the same as above but with a couple of simple differences. In this case the second person is not helping in any physical way. It is very common for the 'assistant' to end up hurting themselves or even drop the person who has fallen, so where possible the fallen person does the work, if able.
You do not need to crawl to a chair if somebody can bring one to you. Two chairs are even better as will be seen in a moment.
Position the chair in front of the person and position a second chair behind the person (if required in the way indicated below).
If the persons knees are sore, then pop a cushion or towel beneath them.
Follow the sequence outlined above. The second chair behind you provides somewhere to immediately sit to recover.
What if I need assistance to get up?
This is where things can get really tough and the options are completely governed by your individual circumstances.
It doesn't really matter if this is a case of somebody lending some support to the sequence outlined above, or several people hauling you bodily up to your feet. Here are some essential rules to allowing an assistant or assistants to help you up:
Check you are not injured in a way that would prevent you staying back up on your feet / sitting.
Never allow people to pull you up by the hand or arms. This often results in shoulder injury and dislocation, it also puts the 'lifter' in a position or poor mechanical efficiency which can injure them too.
If hauling somebody up, then getting behind them and lifting under the arms is better as the levers are shorter for everybody involved. However, this is still undesirable as shoulder injury is still very likely.
The safest and most effective place to haul, lift or assist from is the waist or belt of trousers. Several people can also fit their hands here and there is nothing to dislocate.
But I cant get up off my knees, even with pushing on something!
This, unfortunately is where many people find themselves. so the advice above becomes apparently useless, except for the third option of being hauled back up. But to rise from the floor you cannot avoid the action of needing to push up through the leg with the foot on the floor with the other leg positioned with knee on the floor.
This reflects back to something we pertained to in the avoiding trips and falls blog. Many adults do not habitually get on and off the floor on on a regular basis, if ever. The result of this is we lose the strength to perform this action. So here are a few exercise options that can help to rebuild the strength required to get up from one legged kneeling. All to be done on a daily basis.
If you feel you are capable, then place your hands on a chair and reverse the standing sequence by lowering yourself onto one knee using the chair for assistance. Consider having somebody standing by to help you and place something soft on the floor to help protect the knee.
If the above is too much, then only go as low as you currently can. As your strength builds you will find you can gradually get lower and lower.
If either of the above are too much for you then you need to train the individual muscle groups that you would be using.
One of the most effective exercises, that allows you to regain the strength required to work your legs with the knee at or over ninety degrees (which is where it will be when trying to rise from the floor), is to sit slowly into an armchair without putting your hands on the arms of the chair. At first you will find there comes a point where you topple or collapse into the chair, but this will change with practice. The whole lowering / sitting action should take a good ten seconds. We call this slow lowering movement 'eccentric exercise' and it is an extremely effective way of building strength very quickly. An armchair or sofa works because the low seating position takes your knees past ninety degrees. A dining chair doesn't offer that degree of bend and may tip over if you collapse onto it at the last minute.
Another option is to use a Theraband / exercise band to perform a single leg press, which you can do whilst seated. Demonstrations of this can be easily found on the internet.
You will also need to train your arms to push you up. Below are a few exercises that can help. Demonstrations of all of these can be found on the internet:
Wall push ups and their variations
Theraband / exercise band chest press
Theraband / exercise band Press down
Finally we should point out that if any of the exercises are not possible because it hurts your knees or shoulders to perform them, or these solutions do not work for your personal situation, then you will need to seek some form of physical therapy to deal with your particular circumstances. This is where we come in at The Reinge Clinic where we can look into your personal situation and provide workable solutions. We even offer home visits for those who are struggling to get out.