Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Writing May be Healthy for the Mind & Soul, but for the Body?

Dear fellow writers,

As idealistic as it may sound, working from home and writing poses its dangers and challenges.

I was recently scolded pretty harshly by my chiropractor for having high muscle tension, headaches and backaches. He said, “You’re in the prime of life and shouldn’t be having all these problems at your age. Imagine what will happen when you’re middle age like me. It’s all about developing good habits now." I felt like I was in 5th grade being scolded and lectured to.

With less than a 30-second commute to work and 5-8 hours a day sitting at the computer, your life can easily become sedentary, especially if you have no kids to chase around or carry. If you're not paying attention, good posture goes out the window and work tension and stress gets caught in aching back muscles and tight shoulders. My question is, as a writer, is it necessary to sacrifice the body for writing? What do you do to balance the hours you spend sitting at the computer with activity? What are your strategies for stretching, exercising and relieving muscle tension?

I would rather not take my need for a chiropractor as a sign to get a different career, although it may mean making more time for my hobby of ballroom dancing, which does wonders for strengthening your core muscles, increasing circulation (which helps you think better!), and improving your posture. 

I’ve been trying neck stretches (bend left, bend right; bend forwards, bend backward; look left, look right) and using a microwavable heat compress to relieve back muscle tension. Of course, a daily exercise routine or at the very least, getting up at intervals and walking helps. The best method I’ve used is to prop my laptop up on the kitchen island and work standing. My brother, who also works from home, recently built a surface across his treadmill machine, so he can walk miles while getting work done. That’s genius!

Is it necessary to sacrifice the body for writing? Please share your tips as I am desperate to know what they are!


  1. Hi Christina - we're totally in the same place... I spend way too much time sitting. Before Christmas, I moved our treadmill in from the garage and added a walking desk to it, so that's helping some. Of course I can only walk very slowly while typing, but it's broken up the sitting and I actually really enjoy using it. Great topic!

  2. I've had chronic back pain for years. Six months ago I moved my work computer to the top of a book shelf so I could stand while writing. Now I have sore ankles!

  3. This has really inspired me to make sure I renew my membership to the Y. This past year, as I was beyond busy, I was rarely able to get to the gym. Living in North Dakota, there aren't a lot of great options for walking around most months, so a gym membership has been key. I've been going since my kids were little and it provided them time to air things out while I did the same. :) It is not just good physically, but mentally and emotionally too, I think. Not being able to do that in the past year definitely took a toll and it one of the reasons the balance was way off, and I realized I had to do something about that if I wanted to keep doing what I loved.