How to get up from the floor (after a fall) – MacGyver style!


A significant number of people who experience a fall in the home have difficulty getting back up again. They find themselves trapped on the floor for hours, or even days, no toilet, no food, no water – no good. With this video, I want to teach you how to ideally get yourself back up on your feet – in minutes. More precisely, I am going to teach you how to get yourself up from the floor “MacGyver style”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with MacGyver, it wasn’t an action adventure TV series in the ’80s, featuring a character, named MacGyver, who was able to take common everyday items he found around him and use them in unconventional, creative ways to get himself out of all kinds of crazy predicaments. With the eyes of a therapist, I can look around this living room, full of the typical household items and see many things that people can use to successfully get up from the floor. In this video we will explore some of those possibilities. Now each of you out there is going to have different ability levels and different things available for use in the environment. Therefore everything shown in the video will not work for everyone. But one of the most important things you’ll come away with is how to use inventive, MacGyver style thinking, to help rescue yourself in the event a fall does occur. In the case that your injured, your first step may not be to be to try and get up on your feet so hang tight to the end of the video where I’ll also show you what to do in the event you experienced an injury during the fall. I’m going to start off by showing you a basic fall recovery technique and then we’ll advance to the truly MacGyver style techniques. We’ll begin with a basic fall recovery technique. This is a great one to have in your repertoire in case you do find yourself down on the floor. Begin by simply drawing your knees upwards and reaching your dominant arm across your body to the opposite side. Place your hand down on the floor and push down through that hand while pulling the other elbow backwards underneath you. Extend both arms and come over onto your knees and then crawl to a stable surface. Raise your strongest leg and push down through your hands and that leg and simply turn and sit down. and once seated remain seated a few moments to make sure you’re OK. If the basic technique doesn’t work for you, here’s another one you can try. This one is called the Tipping Point. With this technique you simply extend your elbows and lift your bottom just a few inches off the floor. Until you find that nice tipping point where you’re able to lean your head and your shoulders backwards onto the couch. And once your weight is supported on the couch you simply walk your legs to the side lift your feet up on top of the couch, roll over onto your side and drop your legs over the edge And push yourself upright. If both of these techniques don’t work Here’s another one you can try. This is called the Hip Hike. When your hand is on the same side of your body it’s difficult to get enough height to get up on top of the couch. The trick is to reach your hand across you body, lean your head forward and push down through the arm on the right and the elbow on the left while lifting your hips on top of the couch. If none of those techniques work for you, then it’s time to start to scan your environment for something else that can help. In this case I found a nice pull out mattress below this couch. And I’m going to use that as a halfway transition point or a step to help me get up. I’m going to combine it with the hip hike that we used last time. And just to review simply push down through your elbow, through your arm on the right and lean your head forward while you hike your hips up on top the couch. By applying a little MacGyver style thinking, there are many things that you can use to create a step to help yourself more easily get up from the floor. In this case I grabbed the stereo speaker down from the shelf beside me, which makes a great halfway point. And from there it is much easier to transition backwards onto the chair. And of course back to normal activities again. What if there isn’t a couch or chair nearby, this next one gives new meaning to the expression “Get a Leg Up!” In this one you can see I flipped over a common coffee table, I am going to grab the speaker down just like I did last time you can grab anything nearby you think will make a nice step I’m also going to grab the second speaker, because I now need to make a little bit higher transition point to be able to stand up from, since I don’t the couch or chair behind me here you’ll see I work my way slowly up the speaker steps, and once I reach the top the good part now is that I have these great table legs that I can use for balance and to help to push myself up. And here you see me, happy to be back on my feet. Once you’ve turned on your MacGyver style thinking, you’ll be able to find steps everywhere. In this next clip, I found a great set of steps on the back side of this chair. All I needed to do was remove the cushion and flip the chair upside down and ah! a great tool to use to help me get up from the floor. However, once I reach the top step I realize I am still a little too low, and I don’t have armrests to push up but I am not going to give up, all I need to do is turn myself to the side and use the bottom of the chair and I am happy back up on my feet again. And last but no means least, my favorite MacGyver style fall recovery technique is the Book Tower. For this one, all you need to do is lean your hips slightly from side to side and tuck a book under the opposite side and continue doing so until you reach a height where you are able to stand up Try to build your Book Tower near something you can use to hold on to to stand up In this case I use the edge of the book shelf. You can also consider building a shorter Book Tower and placing it in front of a couch or chair. The couch here gives the Book Tower a little more stability and it’s easy to move from the Book Tower on to the couch. Likewise, you can consider building it in front of a window sill, or somewhere else with good hand-holds. Now what if you were injured during the fall? In this case it might not be wise to get back up on your feet. Especially if you hurt a back or a hip during the fall. And trying to drag yourself can be completely exhausting. I have another trick for you. This one is called the “Glute Scoot”. also known as “butt walking” With this one, all you need to do is lean yourself from side to side and as you do so, lift and scoot the opposite hip backwards and this takes very little energy, and I can go backwards, and I can also go forwards. And the goal is to try to work your way across the room either to a telephone or the front door where you can call for help Now if you’re injured to the extent that you can’t even sit up? And as we said, trying to drag yourself around can be exhausting. In this case, I have one last trick for you. This one I call the Sideways Inch-Worm. Begin by drawing your knees upwards and pushing down through your heels as you lift and scoot your hips sideways. And at the top, you want to push down through your elbows as you lift and glide your shoulders sideways. and using this sideways inch worm technique, you want to incrementally work your way across the floor ideally to a telephone, but if you can’t reach the phone, then you want to make your way to the front door, where you can remove a shoe or grab any nearby object to help you make as much noise as you can to get someone’s attention to come help you as soon as possible.

100 Replies to “How to get up from the floor (after a fall) – MacGyver style!”

  1. Only 2 days after watching this video I actually tripped over in a car park and fell full length. I asked my partner to get the esky out of the car and was able to easily get myself upright by using this. Thank you

  2. Wish I saw your video back in march when I fell in the bathroom was there almost 8 hrs..Next time I'll know what to do…thanks so much..

  3. Thanks this really helped! if only i had seen this last monday when i tripped over an ant on the floor, i was down for 18 hours

  4. This was truly helpful. But I fell in the garden and struck my head on a block of concrete. Nobody at home but my 15 year Newfoundland a life saver who looked at me from the kitchen and barked. The door was closed and even if she was solid on her hind legs she couldn't open the kitchen door. I lay unconscious as the shock was severe. It was last year I was 68years. I dont remember how I got up, there was nothing to grip on to but grass, had a broken arm and head injuries. The only Doctor I had was my dog who comforted me. I still have my broken arm but my dog "closed her eyes" a few months later.

  5. I agree on most methods u show,but I have 1 replacement knee,am over 80 yrs,cannot use my knees as support or leverage,any suggestions.Think some of your methods could be adapted ? Rene in London UK,many thanks anyway.

  6. What do you do when you have nothing close to get upon, bad knees, and weak hamstring and forearm muscles that cannot support you?

  7. I'm laughing at all you posters who are giving different scenarios: WHAT IF….I have no legs or arms, my chin is weak, I'm pinned down by a car, and there are hurricane winds? LMAO

  8. These procedures are good if your young enough and strong enough and are near items that can be useful, but for the elderly and very frail people this won't work.

  9. Some of these methods remind me of the Bobath method of moving patients. They don't teach it anymore but it was so great because you use your own weight to move! Thank you for this common sense approach!

  10. Have had 4 knee replacements & a broken back. I do the butt scoot a lot, the inch worn. Will try the tipping point the next time I fall. My bed is pretty high up so I'm pretty much out of luck there. Thx for your Technics.

  11. Videos like this one helps put ideas into the mind of people who otherwise feel very helpless. Of course not everyone is as fit or slightly built as this person but having an idea how to help yourself in a situation like this means even if it takes a long time putting any of these methods into practice it is better than just lying where you have fallen and doing nothing. Also now, before any fall, is the time to look around in the home so see what is available to help or indeed purchase something which can help. For example most speakers available currently won't take the weight of an adult human so maybe purchase a footstool or even a sturdy decorative ladder (like those used for towels or a pretty blanket) for help proving purchase to raise body height or even to reach a phone or a doorknob. Even tying a rope with knots (or a silk cord if a rope is too ugly) to a door knob or create another anchor point with a hook attached firmly to the wall – either will help lift someone up from the floor.

  12. Consider putting Echo Dots around house. You can then make phone calls via Alexa. There is no charge for this.

  13. This makes you think ! Now my mind goes into thinking ahead. Strength goes downhill the older we get. But if you don’t use it, you will lose it. We must do Some strengthening exercises for our own sake – and living alone- that idea with the Echo buttons around the house with an Alexa from Amazon OR those emergency necklace around our neck , always ready to activate the emergency response agent.
    I have fallen 3 times in 3 years. A broken toe, fractured a wrist bone And the big one – a busted end of my collar bone . I was able to get up from these, but why does it happen ? Each time I stubbed my toe and it sent me flying . Working with our body like a Mind/ Body connection is exercise too, mindful of our body, and coaxing the strengthening side of it

  14. Hi there, great video and thanks. I have a new right knee which hurts if i kneel on it. My left knee should be replaced to but not yet. I haven't fallen but if I need to be on the floor, how do you suggest to do that without causing a great deal of pain in my knees. I have a way that I have been doing this by using the piano bench, but if you have any other ideas, that would be great. Thanks again, Gary

  15. Thank You! I just shared this with my HOA. I learned many clever strategies from you and hope to see more of your vids!

  16. If your hearing is going, many times your balance will be affected also . Elderly people fall all the time.

  17. That was really excellent. I'm a modified yoga instructor and the average age of my clients is 57-89 years young. Many have had serious falls. Fallen face down, and broke her jaw and teeth, several others fell and broke hips, foot shoulders. I have done small seminars to explain how to get up. Well done. So many great ideas. I love the book tower! Ingenious! The upside down chair is phenomenal if they have some arm strength. Where are you located?
    201-970-9340 Katheryn (yogakat)

  18. I've done a couple faceplants in the yard. What I've found is that if I go barefoot or in light slippers my toes help my balance. My clod-hopper orthotic shoes are actually the worst for uneven ground.

  19. None of these work for a person who doesn't have arm or leg strength. My mom is weak and can't do any of these.

  20. Thank you for this video and your articulation of instructions. Very helpful. I am 75 with COPD which has affected my ability to exercise, thus my leg and arm strength. I have fallen several times and have great difficulty getting up. Today was an example. My dog's leash wrapped around my legs sending me into the bushes. As typical, I couldn't catch my breath, so couldn't get up for the longest time.
    Your suggestions in this video are very helpful for me to reexamine today's situation and know what I can try next time. Thank you!!

  21. I just want to say that you need to be cautious about putting your weight on things like a speaker. They might break, and create sharp edges.

  22. A fellow tenant ( 80+ years) who uses a cane for walking, fell in his apt. He damaged a shoulder and broke 3 ribs. He couldn't move and laid on the floor overnight until his daughter visited the next morning. A LOT of the older people I live with have no muscle strength and are not able to crawl around on the floor or even get up off the floor. They have also probably lost some body balance. It's always easy to watch some 30 something do some activity and think and older person can also do them with a slight variation. They can NOT. Older people have to do appropriate exercises in advance of something awful happening.

  23. It would be a proper instruction if she had a 70+ lying on the floor, instruct him/her what to do and see if that works.

  24. This is a very informative video. Fortunately I have only been unable to get up from the floor one time. The worst part for me was the fear and realization that this could happen to me. I was actually cleaning a spot on the floor. I was also having an RA flair and was surprised when I couldn't get up. Both my legs and arms were too weak to work properly. Finally I was able to crawl to a chair and get myself upright. Humiliating but done. Needless to say I now take my limitations more seriously.

  25. Do you have techniques for above the knee elderly amputees? I'm my mom's live in caregiver and I find we have to call emergency responders to help me if Mom falls. …. Oh wow! I thought about using books Last night for Mom! She laughed and called me crazy when I said let's gradually stack some books under your bum-bum! Lol! I knew I was right! Lol! I'm going to show her this video. Thank you this was very easy to follow. I would love to know about amputee fall solutions.👍 💞

  26. Thank you for this video. . My greatest fear is falling ..which I did a few months ago and I used the side to side hip to reach the steps. But I had a very hard time bending my knees or even leaning on the knees … I have arthritis so bad in both .. most of these you have to bend the knees or putting pressure on them and that's not happening here and even if I delt with the pain , it wont help because im so swollen that they just wont bend anyway , as far as sitting that i could do but any lower I'm screwed… do you have any tips in my situation. ……

  27. remember that footstools are our friend especially those in our livingroom areas they can help us get up off floor, use what you have to pull or push yourself up for frequent falls get one of the pouches for your cell phone so you can call for help most of all stay calm

  28. When you fall and you're not terribly injured I don't see why you need someone to teach you how to get up. instinct just takes over. You figure it out.

  29. I have a table in my dinning room that very doubt I can flip it over if I fall and cannot get up. Just kidding (but the table is real though).

  30. I have fallen a few times and was unable to get up. I can't bend my knee but a little bite and I can't roll over to crawl because advanced arthritis in both knees. This is not a poor me story. I wanted to reference the book towel method. I had used it several times and found it to be a very helpful way to get up from the floor.

  31. I would think most people who fall & can't get up will be too weak to do any of these suggestions due to lack of strength. Helpful for those who can though

  32. I fell with only wall around me – I had to use method #1 – but it definitely took me awhile due to pain…it might have taken me longer if I was injured anymore and might have had to wait for hours to get help

  33. Excellent job! This video should get some sort of award from YouTube for public service (if there IS any such award).

  34. But what do you do if you are 2x normal weight? One method I saw a big gal once use was to roll onto her stomach and push up at the same time with both arms (palms down) enough to then get her legs (through the feet) to also assist in pushing her up the rest of the way.. This is a variation on this method called "The Spiral", which involves sitting up and slinging your dominant arm first outward and then back across your chest, to induce a spiral motion of your body. With the other hand pressing on the floor, you pivot 180 degrees at the end of the "spiral", and your legs finally assist you in getting to your feet. Saw this demonstrated on another YouTube video.

  35. These are so great tips…thanks for sharing them! About 6 years ago I injured my knee that left me with nerve damage. Some days it wasn't unusual for me to fall 6 or 7 times a day, even while wearing one of those fancy knee braces with steel bars running up and down each side. At first I was able to get up without too much trouble, like just crawling over the couch and lifting myself up. But over time I became weaker and weaker until nothing helped, not even butt scooting. One day I sat on the floor for 8 hours because I was too weak to get up on my own. I waited until my hubby came home from work so he could help me up. After that I never took a step without my cell phone. Twice I had to call for an ambulance. (so embarrassing!). I'm happy to say it's been almost 2 years since I've fallen, but I'm saving this video so I can review it from time to time…and to share with others. Thank you again!! xoxo

  36. Unfortunately none of these will work for a 95-year-old, overweight woman with bad knees and arthritis in her dominate shoulder.

  37. This video does such a great job of emphasizing innovative mindset. I had just fallen 2wks ago while I was on an exercise ball as the ball slipped out from under me. I hit the floor hard directly on my tailbone and was instantly in so much pain. I had to lay there for an hour for me to get "used to the pain" enough for me to decide to get myself up. I used a yoga mat nearby as cushion for my hands and knees to push myself up by folding it to the desired thickness (helpful for those who have knee issues, this alleviate pain from direct contact with hard floors.) I was also able to grab a hand towel nearby, folded it twice lengthwise, and place this under my knees. This allowed me to slide my knees one by one across the room to the couch without having to lift up my knees (I couldn't repeatedly lift my knees to crawl without causing extreme pain from my new injury.) Once I was able to get to the couch, I did a combination of lifting/pushing myself up, whatever it took.

    Instincts take over, but having that seed of innovation planted in our heads is helpful and gets us actively thinking and observing our surroundings.

  38. I am looking for a new assistant for my act. You sure have the "I have fallen and I can get up" thing down. The job is yours if you want it!

  39. Keep a cellphone with you at all times. Wear clothes that have pockets or have someone put pockets in them for you, have a small crossbody bag, whatever you need to carry it with you. Put it in a ziplock bag and have it in reach when you're bathing. You don't have to invest a lot of money in a phone but they can be a lifesaver. Give a trusted family member or friend a key to your house to access it in emergencies and have them on speed dial. Or have a key in a well hidden place outside your house (not the mailbox or under a mat, lol) that you can direct emergency workers to. These moves are great for someone who has upper body strength, isn't overweight or obese, or hasn't broken a hip or other bone. For everyone else, keep a phone with you. Falling in the floor is no joke for anyone.

  40. Two torn shoulders. No way I could pick up stuff or flip anything over from the floor. I would have to get real Macgyvery.

  41. I fell twice in one day and had to have help to get up. I'm in my 70's and overweight and have no strength in my legs or arms. This won't work for the elderly. You have to have core strength which I don't. I used Alexa to call my daughter and she called 911 for me the2nd fall. I was taken to the hospital and stayed there for 3 days. Had to go to therapy for a week.

  42. GREAT Video! I'm a 72yo & had both C3&4 surgeries, plus I do not have good core strength. I'm attending PT now. I've had to butt walk when I fell down backwards while taking a sm step up to our wooden deck & hit concrete pad. I got my breath, identified my condition; just sore, butt walked to the patio, one small step & to the patio door. I was okay, but glad I knew how to butt walk. Take care people…… I was fortunate.

  43. This woman is young and strong in arms and core. Let’s see a video of a person 80 y/o+, thin or overweight, weak in upper extremities and core.

  44. Good video! I'm a recovered paralytic, so I had PT for YEARS…though I never had trouble getting back up, as they say, "to be a master, you have to master the basics."

    Anyway, I can TOTS see this video being looked up on a smartphone by someone laying on the floor, so good on you 🙂

  45. Basically, always stay by your handy couch. I fell out on my driveway- nothing around. Do a video of how to get up if your legs don't work- in my case, polio. You try getting up without using any leg muscle and wear a 150 lb body suit and spikes on your knees that cause pain every time you try to put pressure on them and weak arms- try- figure it out, tape it and show us. Betcha can't.

  46. In spite of being in denial of my increasing decrepitude, I watched this video last time I came upon it. Good thing I did! I tore my Achilles’ tendon recently and I’ve been in a knee high orthopedic boot for the last nine weeks. It’s really thrown off my center of gravity and when bending over to put something away, I managed to literally fall on my face.

    Because I was in a very small space and had this GIANT boot on my foot, AND have had eight surgeries on various joints in my body, it was challenged and took me almost an hour to twist and stretch and crawl and scoot over to the side of my bed where I thought I had the best chance. Once there, it took me only minutes to use a couple things to make “stair steps” and I was safely up on my bed. So glad for this video! Thank you!

    A tip for when you fall in your bedroom – a variation on using the couch. I slid a sturdy plastic box next to my bed and used my arms to lift myself up onto that. Then I pushed my mattress about a foot or so off the boxspring, making my next stair step. One more lift with my arms and I was up on my mattress, safe and sound.

  47. Thank you had seen this before. Used the technic like the books after I fell in the bedroom used pillows instead then pulled on duvet. Had hurt my back but was able to get into bed then relaxed for a while

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