Here’s one simple exercise to improve your writing posture.
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 a recent post, 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!
This is easy, right? But, now that you know how, you still 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!
Oh, and 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 it.
Need more help for your neck pain?
I recently published a new post with a video and simple equipment recommendations for authors with neck pain.
Check it out in the link above!
Want to learn more?
- Don’t Just Sit There – Katy Bowman
- My latest book – Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well
- Erik Dalton, Ph.D. – Forward Head Posture Article