by Roland Denzel
I have two kinds of writer friends. Those who want to write forever, and invest in perfect, expensive, ergonomic equipment to improve their writing posture. The other friends cringe at the costs, do nothing, and put it off until later.
Good news, bad news. Bad first. No matter how amazing your equipment is, you still might not be doing what you need to do to write forever.
The good news? Taking care your writing health isn’t as hard as you think. Done right, it can actually increase your productivity and let you write more!
In my last column I gave you three simple steps to improve your health immediately: walk more, start your meals with protein, and swap some of your sitting for standing. Those are a great start, just being healthier will let you write longer, but I know you want more. Something specific to writers.
Hello, Turkey Head
Many writers, myself included, love to write at the local coffee house. Are you at Starbucks now, not writing? Excellent. Take a quick look around and notice all the laptops, tablets, and phones. Now look at the people using them. Notice their heads, jutted forward like the head of a turkey?
No big deal, right? True, our bodies are highly adaptable, so craning our neck forward to see something up close is a plus, not a minus. But highly adaptable goes both ways, and when we spend a lot – or even most – of our time craning forward, your whole body changes to support that position. Soon enough, it’s hard to get back to ‘normal.’
While there’s no one normal posture for all of us, there is a range of normal that tends to be healthiest. Stray too far from it and you might notice an increase in neck and jaw pain, headaches and migraines, and other aches and pains that are triggered there at the top, and work their way down as the rest of your body struggles to compensate.
It’s not just postural, either. All these bends, twists, and turns in the neck can lead to poor circulation in major arteries, poor swallowing, and even poor breathing. Lack of concentration, digestion issues, and poor sleep are just a few of the major barriers to a writer’s productivity!
Your head and neck area are home to many vital systems, as well. Your balance, hearing, and vision depend on the optimal positioning of your eyes and ears, relative to your body, and to the ground. Cranial nerve pathways enable your sense of smell, proper gland function, speech, balance when walking, and even how your fingers translate your thoughts to your keyboard.
No matter how many great ideas you have in your head, in order to get them out and into the world, you need to take care of that noggin!
Goodbye, Turkey Head
First, if you’re not sure you have “turkey head,” the best way to check is to have someone take a picture of you while you’re writing or using your computer. It’s best when you aren’t expecting it, so tell them to snap the pic when you’re in your own little world.
Ok, now that you’ve seen the picture and know you have “turkey head,” it’s time for the easy part. Time to do something about it. It’s a simple exercise called “head ramping.”
- Take a seat with your spine tall.
- Tuck your chin back so that your ear is straight over your shoulders.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, then out.
- Treat your neck as if it were made of something precious, like an Arya Stark bobblehead.
- Bring your head back with the least amount of effort necessary. Never force it.
This would be a great time for your friend to take another picture for comparison!
Easy, but now you have to remember to do it, so set a reminder on your phone or computer to check your neck position every couple of hours.
Try this for a week, and notice how much easier it is to hold the healthier position. If it’s helping, keep it up! Be sure to have your little spy take pictures of you every once in a while, so you don’t slip back to old habits without realizing.
I’ll be speaking about more simple ways to improve your writing health at the 3rd annual BeWell Summit on October 15th, 2016. The BeWell Summit is a free event, so please join me! In the meantime, enjoy the writing productivity that comes from lack of pain and the lack of turkey head!
I’ll be back next month, and if you want to be an indestructible writer, so will you!
What else have you done to improve your writing posture?
Roland Denzel is a weight loss coach whose first client was himself! Overweight his first 35 years, he lost over one hundred pounds in 2003, and has kept if off ever since. Along the way, Roland developed a passion for health, fitness, and nutrition that’s not only kept him slim and healthy, but allowed him to help others just like himself through his writing and coaching.
Roland is an IKFF trained kettlebell coach, a personal trainer, and a sports nutrition and weight loss coach through Precision Nutrition. He and his wife, Galina, have a health coaching practice, serving local and online clients, in Orange County, California. They write and podcast regularly at EatWellMoveWell.com, and have coauthored six books together, including The Real Food Reset, Man on Top, and their latest, Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well – 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week.
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