Do you have Writer’s Butt?
Sitting too long on a regular basis creates more than completed manuscripts.
Doing yoga never got me that mythical "yoga butt," but "writer’s butt" definably crept up on me. During the time I was writing Relaxing the Writer I dealt with a sore hip and researched several therapies and therapists and tried a few “props” and techniques.
The "Writer’s Butt” series will first look at the problem and then ways to
make the problem smaller.
Writer's Butt - Part 1
Before the internet, writing included a lot more physical tasks. Writers walked to a stationery shop for paper and ink or a few blocks to a library, drove or took a bus or subway to a large research library, or traveled to a distant city to peruse specialized collections and conduct interviews.
In libraries the writer pulled open card catalog drawers and flexed fingers through the cards, hiked through miles of stacks, stretched up or squatted down, then lifted and carried twenty-pound tomes to a carrel.
Some writers still do old-fashioned tasks, but many more turn on computers to find research materials in London or Tokyo. Others use Wikipedia as their all-night convenience store.
The scariest fact I found in my research was a 2010 study by the American Cancer Society which lumped writers with obsessive TV watchers in the field of “inactivity studies” concerned with health, longevity, and obesity. The study found that sitting time was independently associated with mortality, regardless of physical activity.
Todd Sinett, author of The Truth About Back Pain, says sitting not only lessens blood flow to the discs that cushion your spine (wearing them out and stressing your back), but puts 30% more pressure on the spine than standing or walking. 80% of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. If you don’t already have issues, you need preventative measures.
If that’s not enough, a 2011 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that people who spent a decade or more doing sedentary work were almost twice as likely to develop cancer of the lower colon compared to those with physically active jobs, regardless of all recreational physical activities. Inactivity also may encourage tumor growth due to inflammation.
What’s a writer to do when hours at a gym or track cannot make up for time spent sitting at a desk?
Stand up frequently
Chapter 2 The Ergonomic Writer
"To Decrease Cancer Risk, Stand Up" by Sophie Quinton in the National Journal (November 3, 2011)
James Levine, M.D. PhD, Endocrinology Mayo Clinic in Mayo Clinic Medical Edge Newspaper (November 4, 2011)
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