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One of the biggest things contributing to your back pain is sitting — a seemingly innocuous thing we all do every day.

A simple solution we suggest to patients in pain is to take frequent breaks during the workday. For example:

  • Set an appointment on your calendar at least once every hour to get up and stretch.
  • Every time you get a phone call, take it standing up.
  • Drink a lot of water so you’re forced to take frequent bathroom breaks.
  • Take a walk around the block during the workday to increase blood flow and flexibility in your back.

A study released last week by Baylor University reaffirmed some of our advice — and provided even more specifics about the best way to take a break.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, involved 95 employees who work a typical 5-day week. The employees spent that week documenting the time, length and nature of their breaks.

What the study found:

 

1. YOUR FIRST BREAK OF THE DAY SHOULD BE IN THE MORNING

Conventional wisdom is you work through the morning and take your first break early in the afternoon for lunch. That may be waiting too long. The Baylor study shows taking a break earlier in the morning is more likely to keep you motivated throughout the day.

2. “BETTER BREAKS” ARE THOSE INVOLVING SOMETHING YOU ENJOY

Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean your breaks have to be work-related. A brisk walk around the block can be rejuvenating; so can going across the street from your office to grab some tea (rather than sipping it in the drab break room).

According to the study, doing what you like makes you a better, more motivated employee when you return to the office. A bonus: Getting up and moving around is great for loosening up your back.

3. TAKING “BETTER BREAKS” MAY MAKE YOU HAPPIER AND MORE PRODUCTIVE AT WORK

According to the study, better breaks won’t just make you a better employee, they reduce the chances you’ll experience headache, eyestrain and low back pain.

4. SHORT, FREQUENT BREAKS – TAKEN MORE OFTEN – ARE PROBABLY BETTER THAN LONGER BREAKS

Think of short breaks as like a mental power nap. A quick one here and there can be restorative. Take too long a nap and you feel sluggish. The same may be true of breaks.

We couldn’t resist this quote from the Baylor University press release about the study: “Unlike your cellphone, which popular wisdom tells us should be depleted to zero percent before you charge it fully to 100 percent, people instead need to charge more frequently throughout the day.”

Why do we love this study? Because it is all about getting up during that day and moving — something that is so vital for back health.

Besides that, getting out of your chair during the day could extend your life.

Need help with severe or unrelenting back pain? Contact us, online or give us a call 323-319-2897.