Writing can be fatal. Humans are not designed to sit. With sitting, there’s more pressure on the shock-absorbing discs in our necks and backs than during a slow jog. Sitting too much eventually gives us assassin fat (sneaks up on us from behind), diabetes, and then a heart attack.
This is how I deal with the physical demands of the writing lifestyle:
1. Each morning I pick ten minutes of music — The Berlin Concert by Simone Dinnerstein is my current favourite — and go through a stretch routine. I also use the relaxation books/CDs of psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn.
2. An ergonomic set-up helps. I like these instructions: http://ergonomics.about.com/od/office/ss/computer_setup.htm
3. If we slouch, it doesn’t matter how well the chair and computer is set up. Lessons in Alexander Technique have helped me with my posture. Check out http://www.canstat.ca/ for information and accredited teachers.
4. Stand. Get a drafting table. I’m ordering a Geek Desk that adjusts up and down.
5. Walk. For 30 – 60 minutes a day. I get inspired and type into my iPod when I’m not crossing the street. Get, or borrow, a dog.
6. Lie down. I take a break on the floor with my legs propped up on a chair or triangular support cushion for ten minutes a day — or if my back starts to ache. This family medicine web page shows a good rest position: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/pain/treatment/117.html#ArticleParsysMiddleColumn0008
Karen Shklanka is a poet, a family physician and, with her husband, an Argentine Tango dance instructor. She received the top mark in Canada from the Canadian College of Family Physicians and spent 18 years practicing rural and emergency medicine in small and medium-sized Canadian communities. She currently serves as a Clinical Instructor in the Faculty of Family Medicine at UBC. Her poetry was included in the 2004 chapbook anthology, Letters We Never Sent, edited by Patrick Lane. She was twice a finalist in ARC magazine’s international poem contest, in 2005 and 2006, and has been published in numerous other literary periodicals. She is the author of Sumac’s Red Arms (Coteau), a book of poems.