5 Bad Habits You Must Stop That Are Causing Back Pain

By Sherwin Nicholson, Honours Bachelor of Science, Author and Back Pain Specialist, SN Health Resources, Lowbackpainprogram.

SN Health Resources | Updated Dec 7, 2020

If you’re in pain right now, it may not be clear to you what may be the reasons.  Whether or not you why or if you might have specific issues (such as an injury or medical condition) it is important not to make it worse.

The fact is that most of the time, you are repeatedly doing something every day that is straining your back.  It can be by doing something obvious such as lifting a heavy object with very poor technique.  Doing that will lead to chronic muscle and disc injury.

Most of the time you’re doing something everyday with your back that you may believe is harmless or low risk.  It’s too common to take risks on your back and your body won’t warn you until an injury is imminent. You’ll most likely notice it as a back spasm.

I am here to clear up some of the more obvious risks but many of the less obvious ones.

Bad Habit #1.  Sitting For Too Long (way too long)

Yes. Sitting is very unsafe for the back.

We ALL sit for far too long, but did you know that sitting is the single most unhealthy habit for your overall health?  It’s even worse for your back and is most likely the reason you’re reading this article.

is your pain from adaptive shortening?

I challenge you to try to do something healthy while sitting.  I don’t think you’ll be able to come up with many.

Sitting destabilizes all of the muscles necessary to keep your spine in a neutral posture. All of your upper body weight ends up overloading your discs and straining the smaller inter vertebral muscles that are supporting your spine.  Your hips and hip flexors tighten up, adding to the problem.

It is the equivalent of relaxing all of your neck muscles and allowing your head to lean to the side unsupported. To anyone this would obviously cause neck injuries, but it is not so easy to believe that your spine would suffer the same way.

So even though it feels as though you are at rest, you really are not.

Although we now know this, we still need to sit.  It’s part of life.

The habit that you should stop is for HOW LONG you should be sitting for.

For the majority of people, it’s not a big deal so they can afford to push the limits of their body a bit more.

But if you’re in pain now which means you need to take care of yourself now.  You must limit it ASAP.  The pain is literally your sign to stop the habit.

Rule of Thumb – Obey the 15/1 principle

your bad back habits at work

For every 15-20 minutes of sitting, you’ll need to stand, walk, lie down or exercise for about 1-2 minutes.

You don’t have to do anything that physical, you’re just trying to move around to reposition your posture and improve the circulation to your legs again.

This may seem like a pretty frequent interval and it is.  But it’s necessary right now so that you can avoid hurting while you’re at your desk, driving, eating, socializing, watching media or anything similar.

Most of situations that you spend your time sitting will allow for this accommodation so take advantage of it.  There is no shame in letting others know that you need to move around more for the sake of your health.  You’re on your path to re prioritizing your physical needs so you can be more productive wherever you need to be.

When you can’t avoid sitting

When you have to sit or drive beyond the 15/1 rule, you’ll need to ‘compensate’ by reducing or eliminating other time where you’ll sit for an extending time.  Shall I say less screens? 

Also, sit without relying on the backrest of the seat and just focus on sitting with a neutral posture unassisted.  Like how a pianist sits.  The term backrest is an oxymoron.

Rely on a timer instead of waiting it out

So put a timer on your device and set it at 15 minutes to remind you to get up. It may be inconvenient at first but you’ll get used to it and find more efficient ways to work around this adjustment period.  You’ll also feel a lot better so you’ll enjoy what your doing even more!

Don’t wait until you feel sore again to decide that it’s time to move around.  This is still too passive.  It’s better that you decide the limits rather than your body do it for you.

So now that you’ve reached the end of this article, please do the following:

1: Get up and moving around for at least 1 minute! You need it.

2: Read about the next bad habit below.  There is a lot more that you can do to help your back!

Next: Bad Habit #2 you must stop

More help for your back:

An important tip for pain you should follow

Take the 5 minute test for back pain

More on why it hurts when you sit

Simple exercises when it hurts to sit