Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Physical Hazards of Writing, aka OUCH!

Since it's Hump Day again, let's talk about some of the physical humps a writer has to overcome.

There's Keister Spread, of course. Naturally, when a body part gets a good work out, it tends to grow. And one's keister IS pretty much in constant use while writing. This is one down side* to the rallying cry of writer's everywhere:

"Butt in chair, hands on keyboard!" 

At least there's a cool T-shirt.

Alas, even the cool T-shirt cannot make up for the other down side: repetitive stress injury. I've been pounding the keyboard a bit much lately, and have started to feel the first twinges of the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome.

I'd really like a magic cure, please. If anyone out there knows of one, I'd sure be happy to hear about it.

(And by magic, I mean something where I can still type as much as I want to, without having to jump through too many hoops, like standing on my head, or typing suspended from the ceiling, or, yannoh, giving up my precious laptop.)

Maybe some nice counter-repetitive-stress exercises? Are there such things?

Oh, and while we're talking magic, if you have any good ideas about how to avoid Keister Spread, I'm open to that, too. As long as it doesn't involve sweating a lot. Or giving up chocolate. Or those super-tight Spanx things. Or...

Look, it would just be easier all around if one you were a magician. Come on, let me hear an "Abracadabra!"

* The up side is, of course, eventually getting a book written. Which does tend to outweigh the down side.


A Novel Woman said...

I need that shirt!

Anne Gallagher said...

I know for me, watching old Jane Fonda work-out tapes really makes me feel like my Keister isn't spreading. I can feel my gludius maximus clinch with every deep knee bend she does.

As for carpel tunnel syndrome, start drinking your martinis from a straw, that way the glass can stay on the table and your arm and wrist can relax.

Hope that helps.

Summer Frey said...

I remember before I had my wrist surgery, I told hubby that I was going to type even if it killed, because the doctor could just fix whatever I further screwed up when he went in. :)

I thought I wanted one of those ergonomic keyboards with the keys separated for each hand, but then my brother in law got me a keyboard for Christmas that's even better. It's extremely low profile, like a Mac keyboard, but the keys don't have space inbetween. Each key is a little further apart than on a normal keyboard, so you have to over-reach just a hair to hit them. It sounds uncomfortable, but I love it so much that when I have to use hubby's keyboard, it's like trying to use a typewriter or something. My keyboard is also backlit, which is amazing for the night writing!

As for anti-carpal tunnel, I've not had it, but when I was in PT for my post-surgery stuff, we did a lot of gentle stretching over the edge of a table, using 1-2lb hand weights. Also, play-doh: squeeze it, do finger strengthening stuff with it, etc.

Patty Blount said...

Great shirt! Adding it to my list.

As for carpal tunnel, I have toys on my desk. Slinkies, stress balls, anything that works my hands and fingers while I think about a scene helps.

Also, while typing, resist the urge to rest wrists. Elevate them. Wrists needs to be straight, in line with the hand and arm, not angled up. One thing to try is the bowler's brace.

Good luck!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Oh well, how cool is that? Blogger won't let me add a comment to my own darned blog (keeps putting me into an endless loop of word verification and re-signing into blogger, in spite of the fact that I don't even had the darned word verification enabled on my blog. GRRRRRR.)

Ok, that's out. At least I can comment on your blog as myself, instead of an anonymous, which blogger also wanted to dub me on my own darned blog.

OK, it's really out of my system down. My keister has definitely spread over the past couple years. I like Anne's answer. She says she watches old Hane Fonda work-out tapes. I don't have any, but if I did, I'd go along with that, as long as nobody actually expects me to DO that stuff. Osmosis is my plan of attack.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Ahem, that's JANE Fonda.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I recommend a cabana boy to massage your arm every now and then. Just a thought. He might help with that keister thing, too...

Michele Shaw said...

I'll be watching for that magic cure for keister spread. As much as I hate it, I fight it the old fashioned way, with sweat. I'm totally on board for as easier way...hmm, must get husband MacGuyver to invent something.

Unknown said...

Aw Linda! I hope your fingers are better now! I'll say some abracadabras for you!<3

Jennifer Shirk said...

My fingers are sore too. I need to open and close my fist a lot throughout the day. I feel like my hands will stay in this claw like position forever. LOL

Nancy Kelley said...

I was going to recommend wrist stretches, a brace, and an ergonomic keyboard (all of which I have/do), but then Teri suggested a cabana boy. Hey! I want one of those too! He could bring me fruity rum drinks with the little umbrellas when he wasn't massaging my arm.

Seriously though--the wrist exercises make a difference. If the pain gets bad enough for pills, NSAIDs like Aleve, Ibuprofen, or Aspirin work best.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I like Anne Gallagher's suggestion. Those martinis are killers on the forearms! :D

Soaking in the hot tub with your arm under the jets is good. (Shower works, too.) And in between that -- ice.

Also, you might try writing in a different location -- if you have a laptop that you can move. Maybe a different chair/table/fainting couch will provide a difference in angle that will alleviate the pain.

(I'd really like to see somebody using a laptop on a fainting couch.)

Steph Schmidt said...

Epic shirt.

The best thing I've heard for relieving carpal tunnel is to make sure you're typing with the keyboard at the right angle in relation to your body. My Dad swears by ergonomic keyboards but I have no real investment in a solution. I'm going with the patented I'm Young and Stupid Let's Abuse My Body. So I don't care if my body hurts when I'm typing.