WSA: Writer’s Service Announcement: The Importance of Posture

“Stand up straight!  Don’t slouch!”

How many of you heard this from your mom or grandmother growing up?  I know I did.  And actually I am not a sloucher when I’m standing.  I’m short, so no reason not to stand straight, shoulders back, etc.

That doesn’t mean I have excellent posture for the, oh, twelve to fourteen hours a day I’m at a computer.  Anybody who’s been following me on Twitter this week knows I’ve been having some back problems.  Got a massage on Monday.  That didn’t fix it.  So yesterday I made my first ever visit to a chiropractor because the inability to turn my head without excruciating pain on the eve of my vacation kinda sucked.

So…that red line is the way my neck is SUPPOSED to curve.  In fact I have three curves in my neck.  It starts out right, curves back the other way, then curves back forward correctly.  I was informed that this is the kind of thing that leads to spinal degeneration and all sorts of unpleasant consequences.  And that it is the most common thing he sees. And it’s going to take a while to fix.

Awesome.

The culprit is lousy posture at a computer.  Given that all of you probably do exactly the same stuff (we’re writers…what does anybody expect), I figured I’d do a WSA on proper posture.

So this is how you should be sitting if you work at a desk.  I’m actually pretty decent at this.  Not as good as I could have been, but in a great stroke of irony, my new fancy pants ergonomic office chair that we ordered like six weeks ago actually came in while I was at the chiropractor yesterday.  So yay.

But this is not actually my big problem.  No, it’s the laptop and the hours I spend slouched on the sofa or hunched over looking at it while it is…you know, IN MY LAP.  I did not find a lot of good information for how to properly use a laptop in your lap.  Pretty much everything suggests having a separate keyboard and mouse so that the laptop can be put on a stable and higher surface.  Which totally defeats the purpose of a laptop.  As I do not work at a desk at home and will not be starting, I am in the market for a good lap desk to raise the level of the laptop so I’m not looking down.  I’m thinking about this one.  Do you have a favorite?

Lap King Lap Desk from Amazon

If you also write from the sofa or a chair, I suggest you invest in a lap desk too before you wind up giving YOUR local chiropractor a crapton of business before you start resembling the tortoise straining forward with your neck.

In the meantime, I can actually turn my head without agony, and I’m off on vacation.  Wish me luck on the 9 hour car trip.

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10 comments

  1. I am SO glad you went to the chiropractor. That lapdesk (hahahaha the name is cracking me up) looks pretty good. Will it raise your laptop up enough to make a difference? It doesn’t have to be pretty. You’re already married, after all. It just has to be functional. Like a washing machine.

  2. Hm…also a laptop user. Most of my writing is done at the desk in the corner of the dining room, and I just checked the angle of my elbows and that part is good. I don’t have a proper desk chair, however, cuz one of those wouldn’t match the decor *snort*. I do look down too much. But like you, I question having a laptop if I’ll need a separate keyboard and mouse anyway. Grrrr.

    Hope you survive the long car ride, and have a fab holiday!

  3. Oh man, I’m so sorry. Back and neck pain is always awful. I have one of those laptop desks and the bottom is like a big bean bag that conforms to my lap. But moat of the time I take my laptop to my desk to write. It’s much more comfortable. Also no TV to distract me.

  4. Agh, I am so sorry to hear this, Kait! 😦 I’m glad you went to the chiropractor, though, and yeah, the fancypants chair should help. And thank you for reminding us all about posture! I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately because I, too, have the bad habit of working on my laptop either while sitting on my bed or on the couch, and I end up hunching forward so my shoulders are like curled over like a hunchback’s. I think this is primarily because I am, ahem, large-bosomed, so they sort of magnify the natural tendency to hunch over one’s laptop by about tenfold. As much as I love writing on the couch or whatever, your post has really kind of freaked me out because I don’t want to end up with any sort of bad -ism or -acy. Now it’s just about finding the right desk/chair combination. The chiropractor might not get my money, but some furniture store will.

  5. Kait, I was in the same place after NANO last year. I’m still having problems. The chiro will help, massages will relax muscles if you can afford them the two work together well.

    It took 6 months to get back to normal for me. Since then I take a lot of breaks, move my head side to side. In my old comfy chair I would write with my legs tucked to my chest. I don’t do that anymore. I bought a cheap chair at ikea that fits me but not all of me.

    I try not to use my laptop on the couch because I can’t find a lap desk that works. I have a small computer table (also Ikea) but that’s just like sitting at my desk so I don’t use it anymore.

  6. Glad you found some relief. I was sitting in a bad position at a job, hunched over the computer, and I acquired a “deranged sacroiliac joint.” (AKA, broken butt syndrome.) Really messed me up. Chiropractor, neck and back exercises, trigger-point massage, acupuncture, biofeedback, icing, ibuprofen… All these things helped. I now push my recliner up under my desk and pull the keyboard down on a board on my lap. I try to get up and stretch frequently. It’s not a pretty set-up, but it’s mostly pain free.
    Hope your vacation is pain free and relaxing.

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