Stanford University

Breaks and Microbreaks

The human body is always at work. Even while seated, postural muscles are working to support the upper body and head. If these muscles, or others, face prolonged exertion, fatique and even injuries could develop.

Your workstation setup and activities may force you to maintain an awkward posture or expose you to compressive forces for long periods of time. Inappropriate postures and compression can impede the flow of blood, impinge nerves, and injure soft tissue.

Rest is essential to ensuring a healthy musculoskeletal system. Taking frequent breaks will help to lower the risk of ergonomic injury.

Break and Microbreak Suggestions

  • Avoid strain from completing repetitive tasks (such as typing or pipetting) for long periods by taking short breaks (about two minutes) or switching to other tasks at least every 30 minutes.
  • Take microbreaks (approximately 30 seconds to one minute) every 10 minutes to rest the upper and lower extremities, back, neck, and eyes.

Ideas for taking short breaks:

  • Position your printer in an area that requires you to stand up and walk to get each printout.
  • Stand up when taking phone calls.
  • Go to the restroom or get a cup of coffee or water.
  • Break up continuous computer time by checking phone messages, reading reports, etc.

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