Butt in Chair without an Aching Back

This week is our Third Blogiversary! That’s three years of “butt in chair” commitment to writing, illustrating, blogging, and all the other activities that keep us at the computer. At the May critique group meeting, one member’s comment about writing and back pain sparked a lively discussion about what we’ve tried, and especially what’s worked, to treat and prevent the aches and pains of writing. As our Blogiversary gift to you for 2016, we share our favorite solutions. Maybe one will help YOU keep butt-in-chair without hurting your back.

Marti Johnson sitting in her knee chair.
Marti Johnson sitting in her knee chair.

Marti Johnson – I have back pain caused by non-writing related activities. Sometimes it is just too painful to put the butt in the chair and maintain my daily writing regimen. My solution is a knee chair. It takes away the compression on the spine and allows me to sit comfortably at my desk. It also helps to lower the screen when I switch to this chair, but not significantly.  The one drawback: it is easy to slouch and that doesn’t do the spine any good. But, it’s easy to slouch in any desk chair.  Good posture everyone!

 

 

Norris demonstrates Wendy Leiserson's workspace setup.
Norrin demonstrates Wendy Leiserson’s workspace setup.

Wendy Leiserson – I was surprised and frustrated when my body started to complain – loudly – about my writing. Norrin the Bear demonstrates the solutions that I found work best to quiet my body. The key components to my workspace are: a Logitech ergonomic mouse and a gel wrist rest to replace my track pad; a comfy, height adjustable chair; an adjustable foot rest from Relax the Back; a water bottle; and a HappyLight sun lamp to keep my spirits up when facing a snow-white page in a New England winter.

 

 

Nicole Strangman – I’ve not yet had a problem with back pain (knock on wood). However, I’ve had Carpal Tunnel symptoms in the past, which led me to closely examine the ergonomics of my desk set-up. I have a pretty standard office chair but I also have a tilting footrest. This lets me keep the chair high enough that my arms are at keyboard-level and still have my feet on the floor. These changes were sufficient to resolve the tingling in my wrists, but by improving posture, the footrest may also be helping to prevent back problems.

Alison Silverglad –Sparks darted from my fingertips but I was no superhero. I was attempting to draft my first middle-grade novel. After weeks typing at a desk, I had a herniated disc. This called for a revised approach. Physical therapy helped, as did temporarily switching genres. Picture books are no easier to write, but I can compose them by storyboarding from my futon. Another solution is a special stretch. You’ll need a foam roller and a clean floor. I stretch before and after drafting, and when I have writer’s block, the stretch relieves my spine and my mind.

Alison Silverglad demonstrates her before-and-after writing stretch.
Alison Silverglad demonstrates her before-and-after writing stretch.
SitSmart
Marianne Knowles sits up straight using a SitSmart. (Not Marianne’s B.I.C.)

Marianne Knowles – After several months of spending almost every waking hour at the computer, my lower back was so stiff that I had to be careful just getting in and out of bed, to avoid a spasm. I was ready to try anything, so when I saw a SitSmart seat at Target, I bought it. A SitSmart cups your seat better than a chair does, and that encourages you to sit up straight. That may not sound like much but it makes a big difference. It works so well that I bought a second one to leave at work. I also treated myself to a deep tissue massage!

Alison Potoma – Writing with a laptop gives me freedom of mobility, which can be helpful when finding a comfortable position. In addition, my new MacBook is a whopping 2 pounds (under 1 kg), and doesn't get hot in my lap. Writing at a desk or table hurts my neck and back, so I tend to write in a reclined position. Sitting on the couch with my feet up is best. This is my favorite place to write.
Alison Potoma writes with her feet up and a computer in her lap.

Alison Potoma – Writing with a laptop gives me freedom of mobility, which can be helpful when finding a comfortable position. In addition, my new MacBook is a whopping 2 pounds (under 1 kg), and doesn’t get hot in my lap. Writing at a desk or table hurts my neck and back, so I tend to write in a reclined position. Sitting on the couch with my feet up is best. This is my favorite place to write.

Carol Gordon Ekster – I’m grateful to have only experienced a few twinges here and there, but have not had lasting pain in my back that prevents me from working long hours on my computer. It might be due to consistent chiropractic visits or good genes, but as Marianne reminded me, it is probably due to my daily yoga practice.  I start every day with an hour of breathing, which gives me the focus to write later in the day, and a body that is grateful for my stretching and caring for it. So if you haven’t tried yoga yet, make it a goal to do so. Your writing journey will thank you for it. Namaste.

Does writing hurt sometimes? What have you found that helps?

Related Posts:

W-Pain-free-Writing-1Pain-Free Writing and Art by Joyce Audy Zarins

Writing/Yoga ConnectionUttanasana by Carol Ekster

15 comments

  1. These are great suggestions, Marianne. I agree with the Pilates, though I only do the mat class and that’s helpful too. The foam roller sometimes comes into play and balancing one’s spine along that roller feels so very good. I think I need to get one of those adjustable footstools! It would help the posture and the fact that my legs are too short! Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing the additional tips Marianne! Seeing a chiropractor is also great your back and overall wellness. I’ve discovered that even a visit once a month makes a big difference.

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  3. I just made some calls and am going to pick one up today. I have a horrible back and will try anything! Thanks for passing this info along!!

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  4. Crazily enough, b/c it keeps me OFF my feet, writing has actually given my lower back some relief (SI instability, herniated disc, etc.).
    I do a lot of exercises too though; besides PT, mat pilates classes are key (and affordable, unlike pilates on the reformer).

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  5. Yes! I found out several chapters in to my first longer work that my back was revolting against my new regimen. I use many of the techniques described here. Also, I sometimes sit on a large ‘balance ball’ which is both fun and pain relieving. Every so often you can just loll back across the ball – great stretch for your whole back!

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