Monday, June 4, 2012

5 Ways To Secure the Long Term Health of Your Writing Career


What's going on when you're writing? Are you slumped over the computer or slouched in bed with the laptop and a few... ok, a packet of Tim Tams?

Some of you know I suffer from migraines which I try to keep under control with a gluten-free/dairy-free lifestyle. Over the last three years, my writing time has increased to the point where my body is starting to rebel. It not only demands good nutrition, it's been crying out for the right posture and exercise. After a few weeks of sore wrists last month, I chatted to a dear chiropractor friend about the steps I can take to prevent the injuries associated with repetitive hours at the computer. Here's what Dr Alissa Buda shared with me.

1. Look at your posture. Are you hunched over your work? Do your forearms rest on the table or are they too high? Your chair should be high enough that when your feet are firmly on the floor, your hips should be about 15 degrees to your knees. Computer screens should be at eye level.

2. Minimise inflammation in your body. There are a few ways to do this. Take a daily liquid fish oil supplement (which has a higher EPA count than capsules and therefore, more effective for this purpose), minimise grains in your diet, and exercise daily. Even just a 15 minute walk is better than nothing.

3. Learn to move on purpose. Sitting for too many hours is horrible for you health and increases your risk of chronic diseases, so get up and move. Rotate your shoulders when sitting for long periods. You may even want to investigate Pilates, as it has a strong focus on posture and core strength. Take regular breaks, even when you're in a writing groove. Stand up for 30 seconds and stretch.

4. Stretch even when you're sitting. Place your right arm in front of you, elbow extended and palm down. Bend your  wrist toward the floor and pull your hand slightly with your left hand, increasing the bend. You should feel the stretch on the outside of your forearm. Next, bend your wrist toward the ceiling and pull you hand slightly with your left hand, increasing the bend. Now you should feel the stretch in the inner forearm. To increase the stretch, slowly curl your fingers. Repeat with other arm.

5. Jump on a magnesium and calcium supplement which is great for muscle spasms.

These hints are only a starting point, and individual cases should be discussed with a personal physician. I've found the stretching hint very helpful and even in this wintery rain, I'm trying to take more walks.

How about you? Are you with me?

What are you doing to ensure the long term health and future of your writing career?

********************

Dorothy Adamek writes Historical Romance. She lives in Melbourne with her Beloved and their three teenagers, drinks coffee with rice milk, and is not a great fan of walks in the rain. She loves to sift through all things yesteryear and writes about it at Ink Dots.  


(photo source - love reading and writing)


29 comments:

  1. YAY! great tips to good health of writers.
    I love love love that pic on top.
    Recently, I installed Fitbolt.com every 30 mins, I get an alert to stretch or exercise - you can set it to only stretches or only exercises or both (which last 1 min or less) - I am loving it.
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle, that sounds AMAZING! I will be looking into that right away. Thanks for adding to the tips :)

      Delete
  2. I'm with you, Dorothy. I suffer from significant scoliosis (curved spine). I have various levels of pain everyday. However, there is a lot that I do to counteract this - some of the things you mentioned like stretching and walking helps. But I do need a reminder to take my 'Writing Health' seriously.

    Many Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a touch of scoleosis too, Rose. Being deliberate about my posture doesn't come easy, but I have to work at it like you.

      Delete
  3. Hi Dorothy,
    Loved your title! Yes, securing the health of our long term writing careers is vital, I agree. I found I do all of the things you mention (or mostly all) - and funnily enough it had nothing to do with my writing career. Being mindful of good health, I have read lots over the years on how I can maximise my family's and my health..... so all of your apt suggestions have been worked on.

    Thanks for the reminder - I started moving my arms and legs as I started reading it..... LOL! :)

    Thanks Dorothy for setting us writers on the right (Write?) track! :)
    Blessings,
    Anusha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anusha, you're right about it being good health habits, vital for anyone. :)

      Delete
  4. Hi Dorothy,
    That's really sound advice for us all because, after all, we can't keep up the writing regimes if we're too sore with strains and RSIs. I'm generally OK in one position on computer for awhile but when I get up to do something else, I get a bit stiff at times, reminding me that I'm not a teenager any more :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Paula. It's the RSI I am more concerned about. And shoulder problems which run into headaches. You made me laugh with the teenager comment. After sitting at the computer too long, I look like an old lady as I go down the stairs to the kitchen, balancing my empty tea cups and getting the knees to co-operate. ;-P

      Delete
  5. I'm surprised about the advice to minimise grains. I thought that grains were a great source of all sorts of nutrients that we're supposed to have. Of course, they taste terrible so eating them is probably bad psychologically. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peter, I think it has something to do with the insulin spike we get from too many cereals which causes inflammatory responses, as well as the high omega 6 count they produce which, if our omega 3 count is low, can also lead to inflammation. I think Dr Alissa might pop in later to unscramble my backyard medicine!

      Delete
    2. I was like Peter thinking grains were good, not that I can eat too many as I am gluten free so I was interested to read that and your reponse to Peter.

      Delete
    3. I'm gluten free too Dale. As well as dairy and soy :( Makes life interesting, doesn't it?

      Delete
  6. Like Rose I have a form of scoliosis which causes significant pain. To combat this, I use a chair with an exercise ball as the seat. Brilliant idea, as it takes pressure off my lower spine and tail bone.

    I found rice/almond milk great in coffee. (Wonder who put me onto that idea?) It also depends on the cup I'm using as to whether it dissolves properly.

    Thanks for the tips and advice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you're enjoying the rice milk. Goes well with all those banana chips we polished off :)

      Delete
    2. Ah, banana chips. Love them. They're a weekly necessity in my shopping basket now. Another great thing you put me on to. :)

      Delete
  7. Great tips--thanks for the reminder to stretch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rita :) Just did my stretching then. Always good to get a reminder, isn't it?

      Delete
  8. Great commonsense post, Dottie! So sorry you and some of our other writers have to cope with these things. Maybe I shouldn't get frustrated when I get so many interruptions as it means I'm not sitting in the one position for hours. I also heard that scrunching up our core makes us vulnerable for all sorts of nasties happening to our very finite bodies. And after just going through a coronary angiogram I'm becoming more aware of living a more healthy lifestyle.
    Now if I can just get my husband to agree to that!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is a fragile thing, this body of ours, isn't it Rita. I think we all need encouragement and inspiration to continue with healthy living. Good luck getting your dear husband to agree to 'healthy living'. Poor things, I think they fear we will take away all the 'treats' in the pantry!! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do love my early morning walks - except this morning when the howl of the wind made me shudder without even stepping outside. And in planning my day today, I was thinking, write for a while, vaccuum, write for a while, mop, write for a while, bake something ... etc. :) It is definitely important to break it up and keep moving. Thanks for the tips.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree Amanda. Housework needs to be done anyway. Why not use it as a stretch break and kill a few birds along the way. I'm sure your baking will chase away the winter howls. :)

      Delete
  11. I have planned to go on early morning walks, but it's too cold and I like to catch up with US friends on line.
    With my desk I have to have my feet on a small box, (I have short legs) as I can't reach the floor with flat feet. but I do stretch and move a little, I should probably do more. But you have inspired me to go for a walk. Maybe not the morning but some time. And I better go today as rain is forecasted for the rest of the week.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love the box, Melanie! I can just see you perched there at your computer! It is harder to walk in this weather. Glad to have inspired you. Gave myself a wake up call too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good practical post, Dorothy. My husband and I were fortunate in getting out for a walk before the wind came up and it turned so cold. We try and go most days. Otherwise I walk around inside the house which confuses our dog no end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dale. You had me chuckling with images of your poor dog, following you around the house like a real lost puppy ;/

      Delete
  14. Dotti, great post! I've heard RSI can become a big problem for full-time writers. I go to the gym 3-4 times per week. I'd love to fit in a 5th day but my schedule doesn't usually allow it :( Exercise for me is as important as eating and drinking, and I find I'm more productive as a writer when I exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. I think I have the reverse problem, in that I happily prioritise exercise over writing, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lol, Narelle, you sound like a gym-junkie! Must be all those wonderful endorphins. I hear they're addictive! You've inspired me to prioritise exercise. I'm told writing flows when we have more oxygen to the brain - something exercise provides for free. xx

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great ideas, Dotti. Thanks for sharing these health tips. I had to laugh when you said, "look at your posture"...sure enough!

    ReplyDelete