Do Rest Breaks Help With Reducing Lower Back Pain?

do rest breaks help with reducing lower back pain

You may have noticed that some offices have started adopting standing desks or implemented methods to reduce prolonged sitting these days. 

You may have experienced the lower back pain after spending long hours sitting in front of your screen. Won't you agree that the cumulative effects of the back pain can have a certain impact on the quality of your work as well as your daily lives?

While not everyone experiences lower back pain from prolonged sitting, ​it is still wise to adopt the best practices to keep you in top condition.

Will Rest Breaks Help to Reduce Lower Back Pain?​

Earlier researches have often found that frequent rest breaks from seated office work will go some way to reduce the number of incidences where people reported lower back pain. 

However, there is limited consensus ​on the recommendations as to how frequent and how long these breaks should be.

Result from this ​study showed that frequent, short rest breaks from prolonged sitting may help to alleviate the symptoms of lower back pain, but these are only temporary measures and do not prevent clinically significant lower back pain.

What Can We Do Then?

taking a break

The study did examine the effects of different frequencies and durations of rest breaks.

While it may be nice to be resting for 50 seconds every 5 minutes, our guess is that it will probably not going to work out in any workplace.

With mental fatigue peaking after 60 minutes of seated work, it can be safe to say that taking a 5 minutes break every 30 minutes seems reasonable. This may not only help reduce the incidence of lower back pain, it may also help to relieve any eyestrain and physical discomfort associated with prolonged working in front of a screen.

It may not be necessary to convert your workstation into a sit-stand one immediately since there were no significant differences in productivity of the participants in the study. We need to carefully weigh the costs against the potential benefits,  as well as the overall workspace in the office before deciding on the switch. 

​Source: Sheahan, P., Diesbourg, T., Fischer, S. (2016). The effect of rest break schedule on acute low back pain development in pain and non-pain developers during seated work. Applied Ergonomics. 53, 64-70.

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