Writing Life

On Writing & Health Habits: Watch Your Form

Health is one thing I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about. I mentioned it briefly in a recent post, but I think I only just scratched the surface. I’ve been writing this blog for what feels like now a very, very long time – has it been four years? Maybe.

And I’ve also had carpal tunnel for about four years. Now, I know carpal tunnel isn’t such a big deal. For that reason alone, I don’t talk about it much. The reason I’m bringing it up now – I have carpal tunnel entirely because of some bad writing habits.

So what did I do to give myself carpal tunnel? (Hint, hint: it wasn’t just from typing.) For years, I assumed it was from typing. I talked to doctors. I was recommended to wear all kinds of hand contraptions to help improve how I held my hands and to take regular breaks. But the carpal tunnel’s pretty much never gone away.

Though one day, I went to get a massage (and I NEVER get massages) from a massage therapist. She took one look at me and asked, “Do you have scoliosis?” I don’t. But apparently, my spine was crooked!

The massage therapist spent the next hour trying to get it back into alignment and I walked out of there with a list of treatments and exercises. I later looked up what exactly was wrong with my back and apparently it’s  a lot more common than I thought. Remember: I’ve talked to multiple doctors about my carpal tunnel. I’ve even had both arms shocked multiple times for one specialist to check nerve health. I was told I type too much. Really though, my problem is bad posture.

Bad posture? That sounds ridiculous! Honestly, I laughed when I heard it, my posture isn’t great, but it’s not particularly bad. Not like back pain bad. And actually, I’ve never had especially bad back pain in my life, or at least I didn’t think I did. What I noticed instead was carpal tunnel – or really the result of poor circulation from a bad back.

I started stretching and doing different exercises for spine health and I noticed an immediate difference. The carpal tunnel mitts I had to wear day and night I suddenly could take off for the first time in years. I still have bad posture when I write, but I’m a lot more cognisant of it and try to correct it as much as I can.

What is good writing posture?

  • Sit upright in a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor. I always crossed my legs, which is not good – and a big contributor to my messed up spine.
  • Have your computer or laptop at a height an angle that you can see without tilting your head too much. Many writers hunch over their screens and that will amount to back pain eventually.
  • Wrists should be above the key board and not leaning on anything when resting, that also cuts off circulation.

I also love to write in bed – just like my idol Edith Wharton. But it’s not especially great for good posture. I try to do most of my writing at a desk now if I can help it. This isn’t the only way to have good posture, but it’s a few things I’ve heard a million times and I know that it helps.

This is not a glamorous post, but I wouldn’t be talking about it if I didn’t think it was important. I’ve met multiple writers with the same issue and it’s completely preventable. Now, I’m constantly stretching, I take breaks often, and I’m better for it.

So, this is just one facet of writing-related health, I know. It’s the first one I wanted to cover because it’s something I’m actively dealing with. If there’s a topic I haven’t mentioned that you want to see a post about, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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