Ah, the beauty of writing is how flexible it can be. Whether it’s remote from the cozy comfort of your bedroom or in a niche cafe with a mocha latte by your side, the ability to do your favorite thing absolutely anywhere is what makes it so great. Honestly, I’m taking a bubble bath with one of my luxurious smelling Lush soaps as I write this, and I’ve never felt so relaxed and motivated.
But, writing isn’t always so great for me. Most of my free time is spent hunched over a laptop for hours and hours on end after spending 8 hours at work hunched over ANOTHER laptop. For someone with chronic neck pain, not exactly fun after the second hour. The nerves start to bunch up. The pain infiltrates my senses. When I start to rub my neck in hopes of soothing it, that’s when I know it’s all going to go down hill even if I put a neck contorted ice pack on the spot.
Having chronic neck pain as a writer is absolutely awful and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone, but I have figured out ways to curb the pain. If you don’t have chronic neck pain YET and you are new to writing, you could fall victim to a pinched nerve or a slipped disc if you don’t learn how to write without inducing it.
1. Get a supportive chair
Seriously, this tip is ESSENTIAL. Even if you’re dishing out hundreds of dollars, this could prevent serious damage if you are sitting in the same place for hours. If you work in an office, request a better chair from your employer or buy it on your own dime. Make sure the back of the chair either reaches your neck or goes above your neck so that you don’t have a reason to slouch your head in a way that would impact your posture. It’s all about having straight posture as much as possible. You can’t really control the seating in a cafe, but make sure to sit up straight and avoid slouching. I’ve learned that taking the arms off of a chair can reduce the urge to slouch left or right. It forces you to sit up or you’ll fall over.
2. Don’t look down at your phone
I’m doing it right now as I type this and I just had to remind myself to hold my phone in front of my face. My chiropractor told me that one of the leading causes for chronic neck pain is due to the digital, social media age we are in. He finds an influx of younger people in college are coming to his office, hoping for a cure so they aren’t in pain while they tweet. You might not remember to do it all of the time, but holding your phone right in front of your face with your arms up, and keeping your neck straight can help reduce the risks of chronic neck pain. Don’t let your iPhone ruin your spine. It’s a hard thing to break, but if you are aware you are looking down instead of forward, fix your posture.
3. Get proper computer glasses
I have to admit that I haven’t done this yet because we’re in America where healthcare isn’t free for all, and I don’t have eye insurance. So basically, I can’t afford speciality computer glasses. If you can afford them, have a good plan, and need them… don’t hesitate to get them. Buying proper vision-wear for the computer, if you need it, can prevent the urge to slouch to see better.
4. Don’t work all through the night if you’re tired
You’re probably saying, WHAT?! Night-owl writing is a writer’s life. Deadlines are never ending and the absolute need to write that one chapter because it’s formed in your mind is of 100% importance. Think about this: if you feel like you are on the verge of neckpain, it may be because you’re tired and you’re unaware that you’re slouching. Go to sleep! But, if you really need to stay up and meet a deadline, move to your bed. Hopefully it’s against a wall or there’s a headboard. Stack pillows behind your back and your neck, between the headboard/wall and you. And sit up straight. This provides proper support for your posture and will reduce strain. Lastly, don’t bend your neck to look down. Simply look down with your eyes. Or, if that doesn’t work, prop your laptop with your knees. Use other body parts to avoid bad posture. I’m sure your knees won’t mind.
5. Get a contoured ice or heat pack
Personally, I prefer ice over heat, but whatever helps the strain on your neck not so painful will do the trick. Correct your posture and slap on one of those bad boys, and write away.
Now, all of these aren’t permanent solutions to possible next problems. If you have already gotten to that point where you’re experiencing it often, maybe it’s time to go to the doctor. Try physical therapy. Try acupuncture. But whatever you do, don’t let it get worse and always try to correct yourself when you’re aware of bad posture.