Friday, July 25, 2014

Training Tip: For Writers and Other Laptop Warriors

Yup. Tom Cruise in 1984. Just because.
Who would have thought thirty years ago that most of us would end up with jobs staring at tiny little screens all day. And if wasn't part of our job, it'd be part of our past time. (Know anyone under fifty who doesn't spend at least an hour a day on the computer?) It's been fascinating to watch AMC's, Halt and Catch Fire, if only to see this process play out as a narrative, watch these people from the eighties dream about what we have now.

And hey, on so many levels, it's pretty great. We can contact our friends and family more easily, we can access a world of information, including the latest sports or entertainment news (or whatever you're into). We can share funny kitten videos with each other. Bomb our news feed or twitter with too cute family pics, and let everyone know that our life is not only THE COOLEST, but that we have proof!

Yeah, yeah. There are a few issues. Neurologists have suggested that the technology has changed the way we process information, our attention spans have shrunk to the size of -- "SQUIRREL!" -- ten second bits of flashing colours (Sooo pretty!) and despite the access to information, we're actually getting dumber as a society. There's also the issue of segmenting information so that any moron can find backing from somewhere on the internet legitimizing their bigotry or racism or sexism or any other -ism. And oh yeah, hate and trolls and stupidity by the bushel. (Really, if you read the comments on any article, you'll regret. I count this as a major thorn in the side of living a Kind Life. Comments expose you to the lowest humanity has to offer. DON'T DO IT!)

But still, the games are SO much better now. And Facebook. And live sports anywhere! And writers publishing their own books and actually making a profit. Did I mention the games? All of this is great, but whether you're a writer or a techie or a businessman, keyboards create a few physical issues.


Most people slump forward when they're working on a computer. They do this without thought, the shoulders roll forward and rotate internally, creating a hunched back. This creates tension in our necks, particularly our Trapezius muscle. (That's the muscle that connects your neck and shoulder, the one that gives body builders a "bull" neck.)

Every muscle can be stretched, but our traps are particularly hard to get. Here's the easiest way to loosen them.


1) Get a baseball or tennis ball (A medicine ball works the best if you have one), and find a bare wall.

2) Hold the tennis ball against the back of your shoulder and lean against the wall, squeezing it into place. Roll the ball by moving your back until you find the most painful spot.

3) Use your body weight to lean into the ball. Yes, it will hurt. The more it hurts, the more your traps have locked up. The muscles have "knotted," and the only thing that will release them is direct pressure. (This works like a self sports massage)

4) Hold it for 60 seconds (or as long as you can) and switch to the other side.

As a trainer, most of my clients were/are Laptop Warriors (lawyers, business people, etc...). This was a helpful exercise for them. Believe me, there's nothing like back pain when our traps seize up. Just remember, when you're on the computer, keep your shoulders down and your chest out. Good posture will help keep you working.

Okay. Now that your neck feels better...

Writers, get back to the desk! You got work to do.