You might not be aware, but writing can be hazardous to your health. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome affects millions and is a serious threat to many writers. I had surgery (called a carpal tunnel release) on each hand, one after the other, many years ago. I’m completely recovered but it was a long haul. Here are some exercises that helped me recover.
These five exercises are ones my physical therapist taught me. After those, I’ll pass on five excuses for the author who likes less of a challenge. Any writer can do these hand exercises. They are pleasant, and simple. Performing warm up exercises for your hands can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other maladies.
I am not a doctor or a trained physical therapist, but I am a writer who has dealt with carpal tunnel and lived with the pain it causes. These are suggestions based on what I do myself and what my therapist gave me to do. As with any exercise program, check with a medical professional before beginning, or if you have concerns. I personally do all the exercises below and they work for me. I hope they’ll help you.
Exercises for Writers
Spread your fingers as wide as possible, hold the stretch to a count of five. Make a tight fist and hold that to a count of five. Repeat. Do this at least twice per hand before beginning your day.
With right hand open, place fingers in the palm of your left hand. Press with the right while resisting with the left. You might feel this all the way to your elbows. That’s okay. It means there’s a good stretch. Hold for a count of five. Reverse hands and repeat. Do this twice per hand. I credit my fast recovery from surgery with this kind of therapy.
Holding your hand straight up, keep fingers together and bring your thumb across your palm. Try to touch the base of your little finger. Stretch for it. If this is difficult it likely means your hand is tight. Repeat five times. You can do both hands at once.
Use a small stress ball. Here’s one available on Amazon that is safe, non-sticky, and is said to last a lifetime. This one claims to be safe around children, but use your own judment. http://amzn.to/2tEhEOi Place the ball on a firm surface and place the palm of your hand atop it. Keeping your fingers straight, roll the ball beneath your hand. Stress balls often come with their own suggested exercises.
If you have twin sinks this is easy. If you don’t, try two deep bowls. Fill one with hot water. Make it cool enough to hold your hand in comfortably, but still be considered hot. Fill the other side with cold water. You can float a few ice cubes in it. Plunge your hands in the hot water and hold for 30 seconds. Then put them right into the cold water for 60 seconds. Repeat five times. This makes my hands feel wonderful! I hope you enjoy it too.
Excuses for Writers
We all have days where we just can’t seem to cope. Days when good enough is good enough. For those days, try these excuses. Because we’re writers, these are writing-related.
You’ve worked hard on marketing and writing so take a break. Play Spider Solitaire, Mahjongg, a word search puzzle, or other game. Alternate option: read.
The submission process is stressful, so write in a pre-formatted document. To create, open a blank document and save it as Chapter One. Double-check the formatting. Set a new format to indent automatically five spaces when starting a new paragraph, format it for double lines and name it Editing.
You should be well hydrated before beginning any exercise. Fill your coffee cup, lift, sip, and put it back down. Repeat with the other hand. Do this until the cup is empty. Refill so you can repeat again later if needed.
You should keep to your schedule as much as possible, so check your email and calendar for any upcoming events. Because these tasks fall under marketing, this is an acceptable writing activity.
Writers should use good equipment, including things used for exercise. Double-check the exercise equipment you have on hand to be sure it’s high quality. You might try comparison shopping online. While you’re ordering new items, stock up on coffee, creamer, and sugar. This might be a good time to consider the meal plan for the week.
There you have it. Five exercises and five excuses. Which you use depends on you. Have you faced similar issues with pain when writing? How did you deal with it? Feel free to leave a comment.