Stretching It Out: Keeping Your Body Healthy

Stretching It Out: Keeping Your Body Healthy
November 7, 2016 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice Nancy E Miller

ourwriteside-com-2Hemingway was known for putting his typewriter on top of a dresser and writing while standing.  He was the exception to the rule. Normally, writers sit a great deal.  I can sit for hours hooked into my writing but that isn’t healthy. Extended time in a seated position can create circulation issues in the legs, pain in the lower back and shoulders, reduced core strength, and possible weight gain which carries a whole new set of problems.

I know ALL the reasons/excuses for not exercising, walking, or going to the gym.  I do not like to sweat, hence the reason I do not live in Florida anymore.  But exercise for writers is more stretching than sweating. I’ll leave the jogging to those more able than me.

I am fully aware that when you are on a roll with a story, the very idea of breaking away is distasteful.  The characters might be down-right bossy about not wanting to stop, threatening to break concentration and story line, or even just walk off and pout leaving you with abandonment issues and a colossal writer’s block.  They simply must accept that for the writer’s comfort and health, which will assure a longer overall lifespan for all, care of the writer’s body is essential.

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This graphic, which was on Pinterest, (with credits) illustrates twelve basic stretches which shouldn’t take up more than a few minutes.  Stretches are not quick, jerky movements.  They should be done slowly and deliberately, making sure to get a good extension on the particular muscle group they are focused on at the time.

Let’s take them one at a time, examining the muscle group as we go.

  1. We all do this one. Scoot back from the desk.  Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms out in front of you.  Hold 10-15 seconds and repeat. This is often accompanied by a yawn in my case.  The shoulders and arms are the workhorses of the writer.
  2. Now stand, keep your fingers interlaced, and stretched upward with both arms for 10-15 seconds. If, like me, you have to do this one with hands apart, do so. The idea is to stretch, not choke yourself or cut off circulation.
  3. Cross your arms over your head and stretch to each side 6-10 seconds. If it feels good, do it again.
  4. Return to position two and repeat.
  5. Drop your arms to your side and shrug up and down. 3-5 seconds with 3 repeats.  (I also suggest you do a series of three shoulder rolls to the front and three to the back.
  6. Clasp your hands behind your back. Gently tilt your head to the left then to the right for 10-12 seconds. GENTLY.  Nothing with the neck should ever be snappy.  A muscle pull in the neck is, well, a pain in the neck.
  7. Next, put your hands in front of you, about mid-chest, palms together and press down (see graphic). Hold ten seconds. Relax but maintain the position.
  8. Now roll your wrist to where your fingers are pointed away from you. This is working on your forearms, a part we often underestimate until you fall down your back steps and kill off your left forearm and wrist.  Yes, ouch!
  9. Before you sit again, try a little walking in place or around the house. Shake out those legs.  Now sit down and reach for the sky, 8-10 minutes on each side.
  10. Number ten needs the graphic but it is basically a twist to one side with the top half of your body and the opposite side with the lower. Repeat on the other side.
  11. Scoot forward a bit, hands on small of back, and pull your elbows toward each other like your are trying to make them meet.
  12. Lastly, shake out your hands. Maybe put some lotion on them and rub in like a massage.

There you are: relaxed, refreshed, renewed. Ready to take on the world. So, get back to work.



Nancy E Miller Nancy E. Miller, romantic suspense author of Shark Bait and Crystal Unicorns, lives near St. Louis with her husband and three dogs, pygmy goats, chickens and a cranky rooster named Ketchup. Her degree is in Psychology and Sociology. She has worked in education and mental health as a case manager and crisis counselor.

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