Do you have a ‘desk job’? Do you sit behind your desk for hours every day? And have you been doing that for years?

If so, it is probably time you do something to mitigate the damage that is occurring to your spine because of your excessive sitting before your back starts to hurt. If you are already at the unfortunate point where your back hurts after a day of sitting, it is high time you modify your sitting habits.

A good place to start is to avoid these three things:

First, avoid sitting for more than 50 minutes consecutively without standing up. Prolonged sitting, especially when sitting in a slouched position, strains your back and will lead to spinal damage. The longer you sit, the more extensive the damage will be to your spine. Therefore, take a standing break at least every 50 minutes. Take 10-20 seconds to stand tall, do some neck rolls and arm windmills, and then raise your arms overhead and push your hands up toward the ceiling while taking 2 or 3 deeps breaths. If you have a ‘bad’ back, you will want to take a break every 20-30 minutes.

Second, avoid sitting during your lunch and other breaks. Your back needs and thrives from variety. Your lunch and other breaks are the perfect time to give your back some variety. Instead of sitting during your breaks, get up and move around. Go for a brisk walk. Your spine, as well of the rest of your body, will thank you for it.

Third, avoid sitting on a gym ball all day at the office. Sitting on a gym ball all day instead of on a chair isn’t ‘good’ for your back. Not because gym balls or sitting on them is ‘bad,’ but because sitting on a gym ball results in increased activity of your core muscles compared to sitting in a chair with a back rest. This increased activity results in your spine being unnecessarily compressed all day, making it more susceptible to injury.

Since there is a relationship between sitting at work and back pain, it is important to be proactive to avoid getting back pain. Three important ways to do that are to get up from sitting at least every 50 minutes, to avoid sitting during your breaks, and to sit in an ergonomic chair instead of on a gym ball.