Monday, January 26, 2015

Does Writing Give You a Pain in the Neck?

by Patricia Bradley

One of my goals this year is to step out of my comfort zone and what better way than to write a blog about neck exercises and use myself as a model. Scary thought.

Because these exercises have helped me so much, I wanted to share them with other writers or anyone who sits behind a computer all day. As you know writing is sedentary work, and can result in neck, shoulder and back pain. That's where I was a few years ago.

Before I continue, I am not a physical therapist, and if you have any doubts about doing exercises, consult your doctor. 

Burning pain under my shoulder blade and through my neck resulted in a visit to an orthopedic doctor who sent me to a physical therapist. She gave me a set of exercises that stopped the pain and allowed me to get back to writing. 




The first exercise is a stretching exercise for the neck. Sit in a chair, (can be your office chair) and place one hand on top of your head and the other behind your back. Make sure you are sitting tall. 

Disregard all the kitty toys in the floor and the flower coming out of my head.





Next, pull your head over like you were trying to smell under your arm. Hold this stretch for a count of 20. Be sure to focus on letting those muscle relax.  Go ahead, try it. I'll wait.

Doesn't that feel good! 

Now do the same thing for the other side. I do ten of these every morning after I get out of bed. This is after I've stretched my hamstrings (before getting up). If you have tight hamstrings, you probably have back pain. Tight hamstrings = shorten muscles that support your back. And this can cause pain.

The next exercises I do are head rolls and shoulder rolls. For the head roll, I sit straight, and look as far as I can to the left for a count of 10. If I'm looking to the left, I put my right arm behind my back. This gives more stretch.  Then I look forward and press my finger to my chin, pushing it in and stretching my neck. I hold this for a count of 10. Be sure to repeat the first exercise by turning your neck as far to the right as you can. 

The shoulder rolls are just that. Rolling your shoulders, first one way, then another. 

When I started these exercises, I set a timer and did them about every 4 hours. Now I only do them first thing in the morning.

I really want to encourage anyone who sits at a desk all day to find some type of stretching exercise. These just happen to be the ones that have helped me to stay pain freer...if that's a word. At my age, pain and I are old friends. But I believe in exercise. I was facing knee replacement surgery later this year, but since I've been doing a 100 leg lifts with 5 pound weights on each leg, the muscles above the knee are doing their job and surgery has been cancelled. 

What exercises do you do to feel better?

18 comments:

  1. Patricia, Thanks so much for these great tips. I've been having knee pain the doc says is arthritis. I had stopped walking every morning because it hurt. He said start again and to do stretches before I go, that exercise will help. The head rolls for neck and shoulder are awesome pointers.

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    1. Okay Roz. Dr. Pat here. lol. The orthopedic doc said I needed knee surgery, but we would give exercise a try. I've done leg stretches for years so I started out doing simple leg lifts. Then I added 1 1/2 lbs weights. I'm up to 5 lbs on each leg and 120 lifts that I do 3 times a week. Not even considering surgery any longer. I still have the arthritis and almost bone on bone and bone spurs, but the quadriceps are now doing their job and I can walk, climb stairs do all the things I couldn't do before. And if I have to have surgery eventually, at least my quads will be in good shape and I'll recover so much faster..

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  2. Wonderful examples. My favorite exercise is walking.

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  3. Swimming and biking are mine, Marion.

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  4. Patricia! I feel as though my guardian angel woke you up this morning and said, "Blog this for Muriel!" I have a terrible time with neck and upper back pain. I begin my day with good posture, but when I get lost in the story, I'm hunched over the computer and probably tense. Ron says he expects me to one day disappear into the screen. Thank you, thank you! I walk, walk, walk. It takes care of so much, but doesn't do much for your neck.

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    1. Muriel, set a timer for at least 4 hours, but 2 would be better, and do these exercises. I promise, it will help. :-)

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  5. Thanks so much for these exercises, Patricia. I don't think my office desk chair is set up to be ergonomically sound, and like Muriel I'm hunched over the screen, so by the time I finish a writing stint the back of my neck feels stiff and burns. I've been meaning to add stretches to my treadmill and (sometimes) light weights routine. These are perfect.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this! My neck is a problem, and I kind of ignore it. I love walking, but have an iffy hip; however, I've been doing the Silver Sneaker workout at the gym and I like it a lot.

    Good picture of you, too!

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    1. Thanks, Liz. It was the 2nd set--after I looked at the first ones, I changed into a black because the others made me look so fat. lol

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  7. Thank you for this great post, Pat! I tried these and they are great! My neck feels better already. I'll share with hubby too. He works at the computer a lot at work. Especially like the one where you get to pretend you're smelling under your arm. LOL Good to know about the hamstrings too. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I could have sworn I'd left a comment here days ago! In any case, great post. I think physical therapists are amazing. I saw one for knee pain, years ago, and I do the exercises to this day. Very effective!

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    1. Rula, my knee exercises are keeping me out of surgery! When I don't want to do them, I think about that. lol

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  9. Thank you for sharing your exercises. Writing is truly a pain in the neck in so many ways.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your exercises. Writing is truly a pain in the neck in so many ways.

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  11. Those massage exercises are really fine, welcome and necessary. Our muscles can endure a lot, but they also aren't meant to carry too much. Your post should be a fine reminder on what it takes to really make our body and mind work well. Thanks for sharing that, Patricia! All the best to you!

    Derek Sparks @ Forgey Chiropractic

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  12. While I am a new writer and have not yet started experiencing neck pain, I applaud your effort for helping me proactive with issues that may occur in the future. I'm a part time content writer, so I am appreciative to the tips you've provided that will help me and many others.

    Agnes Lawson @ Pain Relief Experts

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