5 Tips & exercises for back pain at work. #5: Break

Sherwin Nicholson | Updated Dec 3, 2020

Continued from Tip & exercise #4: Hug

No time to stop at work when your back hurts?

How long must you remain seated without getting up?

The reason that I have included this idea as one of the 5 tips & exercises is because:

It’s probably why you’re looking for help in the first place.

Generally, you should be able to sit for a long time even under poor seating conditions. You should even experience little back pain but there is a limit to this.

No one can really sit comfortably if they have to sit with next to no breaks. So it matters to be honest here.

The reality is that our jobs and careers can be brutal at times on your back and you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re suffering for someone else. 

COVID-19 has really changed just how long we have been sitting at home.  Many of us are now working from home due to the pandemic. This is making it more difficult to avoid lower back pain.  Fortunately, this series of articles will help you during this time.

You’ve got to take a break. Simple and plain.

If your back hurts NOW and the pain you have is the clear signal to take a break, learn how to take a break here.

It’s about protecting your spine, discs, facet joints, muscles, nerves, soft tissues, existing strains and injuries, your sanity, goals, etc.

Below are the 3 breaks you should must take

Extended, Interim and Immediate


1) Extended (away from work)

This is where you need to use up or find those vacation days to get away from the office and to put your health first. You know I am right about this.  You can literally feel the reasons why.

This is a good opportunity to find out what you can do more about finding long-term treatment.  You’ll at the very least stop sitting for a minimum of 40 hours per week while under pressure that is beyond your control.

See your doctor, any specialist or read what is available on this site.

Don’t go into any ‘weekend/vacation warrior mode’.  That might make matters worse and you’ll really hate sitting this time. Also avoid wasting any of your time off by sitting on the couch binging Netflix or checking Facebook. That just more sitting.


2) Interim (during work)

While you’re at your station or office, you MUST get away from that desk!

This means really prioritizing your break on the job.

How you can do it:

  • Take your lunch break (really do it)
  • Walk on your lunch break (or at least stand for most of it)
  • Take your mandatory 15 minute breaks if available and don’t sit at all
  • Take more bathroom breaks and water cooler breaks
  • Volunteer for those boring/irritating errands so you can get up more often
  • Go for a very short walk (without your device)
  • Physically go to other coworkers to discuss common work related concerns (walking and standing)

Try hard NOT to skip the above suggestions to save time.  In most cases, you’re only saving the boss’s time and not yours.

You really need to change your habits on the job.  You will feel less pain and become a lot more efficient at work.


3) Immediate (at the desk)

This is where you can be creative.  You can take a ‘break’ from the dangers sitting and still productive.

Here’s how:

  • Stand for a few seconds for every ten minutes of sitting
  • Stand when you need the printer, fax, etc.
  • Stand and walk to get around and don’t wheel yourself around
  • Don’t lean to anything on your desk, stand up and go to it
  • Stand when you need to hand write (vs. type) – Just use a higher surface
  • Have a policy of moving around the desk (or away) every 30 minutes minimum
  • Do something other than sitting (after 30 minutes of sitting) for 1-2 minutes

These simple suggestions will help you relieve your back pain much sooner.

By looking for ways to integrate these breaks into your workplace setting, you can still remain very efficient.  No one would judge you for it if you’re getting your tasks and responsibilities done.

Take advantage of a bad situation (your desk chair)

Remember the 5 key words!

Perform, Stand, Kickstand, Hug & Break

These words are for you to commit to for your own health. I promise that it will change your habits and your life.  People will notice the change in you and you’ll really appreciate your time at work.  Just be patient about it.

You can take advantage of the office time to save your health one day at a time.

For more help for your pain:

What are natural painkillers and why are they important?

The hamstring stretch you should be doing instead

How to stay motivated when you’re in pain

10 Tips for your pain