Monday, April 5, 2021

Oh, My Aching Back

 Q: Sitting typing isn’t what we evolved to do, no matter how rewarding it might be. At your desk and/or away from it, how do you counteract the physical toll a writing life takes on your body?

- from Susan

My particular problems stem from my inability to look at the screen while typing, which also means I can’t see typos until I stop typing and look at the screen in horror. The dismay is in part the result of my three-finger typing [I had to retype the word “typing” 3 times to get it right, by the way]  - left index and middle finger, right index finger. The faster I do my magic, the more mistakes I make, hence a start-and-stop process that adds hours to every session at the computer. How I make it through manuscripts of 70,000+ words I don’t know.

The computer is a laptop, which means the keyboard is higher and the screen lower than illustrations of proper ergonomic positions. Using a little tablet only makes it worse since I have to hunch even more and my fingers hit the right little keys about fifty-percent of the time.

So, I have issues. My neck cants forward, a little old lady effect I got before I was officially a little old lady. My back and shoulders suffer. I sit forward in my desk chair so my fingers in their vertical punch positions can find the keys, which doesn’t help my legs. My fingers cramp. 


YOGA, although I’m only now getting the space back to roll out the mat (see my recent post). There is nothing like some asanas to remind me I have muscles and ligaments that deserve more respect than I give them at my desk.

HEAT, which used to mean a hot tub when I lived in Sausalito but now, alas, means only a hot shower or those seed-filled cloth things you can drape around your neck. 

MOVING AROUND, easy to do as long as it means I can run downstairs and forage for snacks, which create their own issues, or distract myself from the writing task by doing laundry.

POSTURE AWARENESS, which means not looking at the sidewalk when I’m out walking, but keeping my back straight, my shoulders back a little, and my neck balanced on my shoulders. It was natural when I was a kid and since the sidewalk doesn’t move, why I drift into looking down when I could be enjoying the view I don’t know. 

Before COVID, there were massages, expensive but at least temporarily, excellent remedies. Before COVID, our community pool was open for swimming, which stretches out the muscles beautifully. Before COVID, there were more energetic walks because my grandsons keep up a good pace and tempt me up hills. 

I have one ace up my sleeve, and it's called Kauai. I have a trip planned for later this year and the Hanalei Beach from one end to the other is two glorious miles long. A round trip walk every morning, looking at the water and the mountains and the waterfalls and the fruit and flower trees will be more than enough to counter the couple of hours later that I'll be trying not to hunch over my laptop working on the next book. There's enough aloha in my corner of Kauai to set me up for the next twelve months!


1 comment:

Catriona McPherson said...

Yes to all of this! There's a mirror/window combo in my house via which I see myself from the side every day. I weep for my posture.