Monday, January 11, 2010

Writing Can Be a Pain in the Neck

Writing can also be a pain in the shoulders, the back, the knees, and the wrists. We need to be very careful not to sit too long without getting up and stretching.

It's hard to make myself get out of my writing chair and exercise when I'm on the home stretch of a novel's first draft. Time evaporates. I'm stiff and sore before I realize what's happening. Since I have a bit of arthritis and also experience occasional fibromyalgia flares, movement is absolutely necessary. A regular stretching program helps. Working out and weight training is useful. Yoga is also excellent.

One of the most helpful things I've learned how to do is a series of positions and stretches created by Pete Egoscue. Some of the program is similar to Yoga, but most of it is easier than Yoga. I'd recommend going to a clinic if you have one nearby, but the sessions are pricey and probably not covered by most writers' insurance. However, there's an easier and cheaper way to find out what the Egoscue Method is like.

Much of the theory and an illustrated guide to the program can be found in Egoscue's excellent book, Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain. Your library may have a copy or might be willing to order it. I'm a firm believer in the method and always feel better when I'm following the program daily.


Jemi Fraser said...

I try to walk home from work most days to get in my exercise. Not quite as easy in the winter however :)

Stretching is so important and I don't do nearly enough of it!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Good advice. My husband, who is in IT, is also having some issues with carpel looks like those of us who are on computers really get some issues!

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Jan Morrison said...

This sounds good. I'm not so good with regular exercise except walking and that is because I have my personal trainer - my dog, Hoagy! He keeps me fit.

dirtywhitecandy said...

I used to be a martyr to RSI and had acupunture, tests and other medical torture for a year. Then I discovered the gym. Some RSI problems are caused when nerves are compressed by wasted muscles, and I found that doing upper body exercises with weights sorted this out.

I know two writing bloggers who have treadmills at their computers!

Michele Emrath said...

Interesting and true. My new regimen requires I change positions every 20 minutes. Thank you fibromyalgia! But even before I knew I'd still have to stretch and move like you suggest.

This will be very helpful to me! Thank you for the link.

Do Beautiful Things

The Old Silly said...

Timely post for The Old Silly to read. I was just thinking I need to get up from this chair, do some stretches and take a walk becuase my neck, shoulders and back are getting stiff and sore!

Marvin D Wilson

Karen Walker said...

Thanks, Patricia. Will definitely check that technique out. Exercise is my least favorite thing to do, but I force myself.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I don't so much get up out of a chair now as I do slowly unfold, reaching an approximation of vertical after about ten shuffling feet.

Best Wishes Galen.
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for visiting -- now everyone stand up, lift your arms, stretch to the left, stretch to the right, touch your toes, and walk around the room three times. Okay...carry on.

Roz -- I love the idea of a treadmill in front of the computer but I'd get dizzy trying to read and type while walking. I've been thinking about buying a recumbant bicycle to put in front of the television though.

Galen -- I didn't know about the problem with having ten feet. I'm clumsy enough with just two. :)

Ann said...

I practice yoga. I find it helps, but I do still suffer from neck and upper shoulder ache when sitting at the computer too long. Will definately check out Egoscue. Must stretch!

The Old Silly said...

Good "stuff" here. Liked the "self-doubt" post. I don't have much of an issue in that arena, but the advisements are worthy. Then there is also the "fear of success" believe it or not, that keeps some peeps subconsciously unable to succeed.

Marvin D Wilson

Anonymous said...

Patricia, I'm so glad you found Pain Free helpful! Sitting for long periods and writing can be painful - but it doesn't have to be (neither does running, walking, swimming, or any other acticity) - it all depends on what your body is doing. If you have good posture and alignment then you can do anything without pain; but if you posture is compromised anything from running to bending to sitting to sleeping can become painful. The great thing is you can change it quickly by doing a menu of e-cises like you have to change your posture. All our clinics offer free consultations and many offer free introductory workshops that can be very helpful if your readers need advice on what to do to become pain free again. A list of the clinics can be found at and your readers can also find the book at any library or bookstore in the country. If we can be of assistence, let us know. Keep up the menus and stay pain free! Matt Whitehead - clinic director of Egoscue Portland