Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Writers: Do you wake up smiling? Feeling no pain?

Contributed by Marlene Hibbard

If you can’t say yes to the title questions, I have some reminders of ways to help eliminate aches and pains that can be associated with sitting at your computer for long periods of time.

Ergonomics vs. Pain 

2 Major Mistakes and Solutions for Musculoskeletal Disorder

MSD stands for many things but for our purposes it’s musculoskeletal disorder. And it’s all too common, especially for writers. We sit at the computer for hours. I’m as guilty as you when it comes to disciplining myself to sit properly. Do you carry the laptop to the TV table where there isn’t even knee space causing serious muscle strain?

Even my beautiful new desk chair tempts me to lean to one side with its tempting arm rests. I can’t reach both of them with my arms so I lean on one. Next morning, I feel the strain in the opposite side of my back.

Mistake #1

Positioning and Posture Carelessness

Habitually leaning to one side or bending over the computer places the lower back at risk of injury. Ask yourself if you practice good posture? Or is it head knowledge only? To know the right thing and not practice it brings suffering.  

What to Do Instead

An adjustable chair is essential for good health. Raised or lower it for positioning arms and feet properly. Notice the arms in this picture are not exactly horizontal. Arm rests can usually be removed.

Sit up straight with your back against the back of the chair and a lumbar support if necessary. Feet should be flat on the floor. 

Practice makes perfect. Your back will thank you and you’ll save money for therapists and chiropractors. You’ll wake up smiley without pain.

Mistake #2 

Begging for Eye Strain or Disrupted Sleep?

The manuscript seemed perfect until you left it for a day, took another look before sending it to the publisher, and decided to revamp. You’ll be up until dawn. Deadline. Tomorrow. Your eyes are already strained just thinking about it.

Two of the mistakes regarding eye strain that bring this about are mentioned here.

You’ve read studies spelling out that late night screen viewing disrupts sleep. It could be the blue lights from your computer screen.

What to Do Instead

You can change the light/darkness of your screen. Also, do a search on for eye strain. Some users have claimed that a program called F.lux can help eye strain by dimming your monitor depending on the time of day. Your screen will display an orange-ish color in the evening mimicking nature. I haven’t tried it but I think I might. You decide and let me know in the comments.

Another issue with this is eye strain from not having the screen at proper distance. If you are using the laptop keyboard you probably have your arms too high, causing upper limb strain.

What to Do Instead

Most of these things cause you to wake up in pain but simply paying attention to your posture will solve your problems.

With the extra keyboard and mouse lower than your laptop, you may want to raise the screen. You could place a book or cardboard box under it. Whatever it takes to make you wake up smiling, right?

Please leave a comment to let us know any strategies you use to help alleviate strained muscles or eyes from writing.

I’m Marlene Hibbard, coming to you from the mountains of Virginia and the author of Hideous Health Habits. Visit for more health tips.



The Work of Editing
Your Character’s Smirking . . . or is He? Synonym Pitfalls
10 Bad Writing Habits to Break

1 comment:

Shirley Corder said...

Thank you Marlene. I know these things . . . but to DO them is another matter! And yes, we live to regret!

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