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Guest Author Lynda Bailey: Ergonomics for Healthy Writers

Hurray! Today I get to host our guest Lynda Bailey, a 2010 Golden Heart finalist and therefore one of my fellow Unsinkables!

I’ve been having fun in the last few months reading Lynda’s delicious erotic shorts FULFILLED and GLAD TO BE HOME, and I’m cheering her on with the self-publication this month of her super-sexy first full-length book, BATTLE-BORN LOVE!!

Lynda’s got a gift for hot love scenes (woo-hoo, the hot tub scene in this new one!!), and I loved the sassy, smart-mouthed heroine of BATTLE-BORN LOVE who runs her own repo business and complains that panty-hose make her feel like “ten pounds of dirt stuffed in a two-pound bag.”  It’s great watching Rory find love-sweet-love without giving up her backbone of steel.

In addition to generating heat for her readers, Lynda gets folks’ blood pumping another way: she’s a fitness instructor and all-around expert in living a healthy, balanced, high-energy life. (You can find great tips for good living at her website, lyndabailey.net .)

She’s here today with some great, practical advice for taking care of our bodies even while we write, write, write….

Take it away, Lynda!

________________________________

Ergo—what—tics?

Thanks so much to Elisa and the Ruby Sisters for having me here today. The topic I’m discussing is ergonomics.

Uh. Ergo—what—tics?

Ergonomics. (And no, that’s not economics misspelled.) Ergonomics, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely; called also biotechnology, human engineering, human factors.”

Got all that?

In a nutshell, ergonomics is how we relate to our environment—most specifically our work environment.

Allow me to clarify.

As writers, we spend an inordinate amount of time sitting. We can’t really do much writing, either by hand and definitely not on a computer, while walking or running. (Though one of my goal-gals has been known to do her edits while on the treadmill. WTG, Katrina!)  If your day job is working in an office, you can spend between six and eight hours a day in a chair. Add your writing time and you’re sitting almost more than you’re sleeping. And if your “environments” aren’t properly setup, you can experience increased stress on your muscles, joints and ligaments. In other words, if you’re working within ergonomically incorrect environments, you’ll have discomfort, pain, muscle fatigue/tightness, headaches and general irritability—more so than what’s normal.

You need to have your chair at the proper height for your height in relation to the desk so that, when your feet are flat to the floor, your hips and knees are at approximately 90 degrees. The chair should swivel so you’re not twisting your spine and over-reaching what is a normal range. Additional lumbar support, in the form of an ergonomically designed pillow, will also help diminish lower back pain.

A monitor that’s too low can lead to a pain in your neck and upper back as well as to headaches. The best height for your monitor is at your eye level, about 18-24 inches away, with the top of the monitor no higher than the top of your head.

Got problems with shoulder and neck pain? Chances are your keyboard is too high. I have personal experience with this. When I’d write on my laptop—and my laptop was on the kitchen table—I got this horrible, awful burning neck pain. Wasn’t until DH and son bought me a desk, with a lower shelf for an external keyboard, that the pain diminished. Trouble with carpal tunnel in your wrist? Use a pad so your wrist stays in a neutral position while you type. And make sure your mouse is adjacent and at the same level as the keyboard.

Talking on the phone a lot? Use a hands-free phone set to keep yourself from cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder.

But even with the most ergonomically correct environment, not all stress will be alleviated from your body. If you’re deskbound for long stretches of time, set a timer for 30 minutes and get outta that chair. Go get a drink of water or walk to your co-workers office instead of emailing. Our bodies are built for activity, not inactivity. So move people! (If pain/trouble persists, though, make sure you check things out with your health care provider.)

If anyone has a question or comment, shout ‘em out, but make sure to leave your email in your comment. One lucky person will win a PDF copy of my indie release, BATTLE BORN LOVE. Thanks again to the Ruby Sisters for having me here today!

Stay healthy!
______________________________________________

And now a few words about Lynda’s new book (woo-hoo!!!)

Spirited repo owner, Rory Dawson, agrees to be what she isn’t—the girlfriend of a handsome banker—in order to save her father from a prison sentence. Now Pop is safe, but is her heart?

Kane Williams has made a deal with a most provocative devil in hopes of securing a coveted promotion. All his life Kane has endeavored to be the best, to erase the failure of his father. Will years of work be forfeited for a woman, albeit the sexiest one he’s ever known?

From opposite sides of the tracks, Rory and Kane forge an unlikely friendship. Soon, that friendship becomes a steamy relationship. Through trial and pain, they battle to have the love of a lifetime.

********************

Remember, leave a comment on the blog today to have a chance at winning a PDF copy! You can also snap it up at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

 

41 responses to “Guest Author Lynda Bailey: Ergonomics for Healthy Writers”

  1. Gillian says:

    First of all, congratulations, Lynda!! Don’t enter me– I have BBL and am going to enjoy it over Spring Break next week. 🙂 I think your cover is very compelling. Guess I’ll need a cool drink of water

    Oh my goodness, do I need this post. I don’t think anything is right with my writing set up and it’s showing. My husband set up a lovely antique writing desk for me but I don’t think anything is at the correct height, as my right hand (mouse hand) aches, turns numb and will hurt for over an hour after I’m done. the pain goes right up my arm as well. And as I have to do day job paperwork on the computer, too….it’s not good. I’ve heard of wrist braces; should I try one? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Good morning, Gillian~

      I love that your DH bought you an antique writing desk…but it’s probably the reason for you wrist pain. Without seeing your set up, my guess is your desk is too high and that’s why your thumb/hand is hurts and goes numb. IMO, a wrist pad would only compound the problem. (Your day job set up is a different matter. You most likely don’t use an antique desk there, huh? 🙂 A wrist pad may be of benefit to you there.)

      My suggestion for easing your discomfort while writing is to alternate between using your antique desk and whatever your old set up was, if possible. If that’s not possible, make yourself get up every 15 minutes or so (a pain, I know, especially when you’re *in the zone*) to give your hand and arm a break. Also be careful how you use said hand/arm throughout the day. Try not to let your wrist *break* which means having it at a 90 degree angle to your forearm. Finally, if it continues, see your health care provider and get a referral for an orthopedist.

      Hope that helps!

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  2. Great post, Lynda! I frequently struggle with neck pain. Congrats on your new release!

    Laurie

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Thanks Laurie!

      After my back surgery last fall, I started getting a horrific burning pain in my left shoulder and neck. (Hell to get old. Body parts just start falling off. :))

      But don’t ignore the pain! It could be the result of tight muscles, which was my case. Tight muscles can be the result of a bad work station set up. Do your get regular massages? Deep tissue massages? If so, does that alleviate the discomfort, if only temporarily? (My deep tissue guy says I’ve got more knots in my upper back than an oak tree.) Check things out with your health care provider. He/she may put you on a mild muscle relaxer as well as give you stretching exercises to keep your neck and upper back muscles from bunching up.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Liz Talley says:

    Well, I just raised my monitor to eye level and went and dug the lumbar pillow out of my son’s closet. No idea why it was in there. Everything else was good, so I’m set for a day of blipping revisions.

    I have found more back pain, not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or if I’m sitting much more than ever. Taking a walk usually helps my back, along with a rag doll yoga stretch. But I’ve also noticed that my fingers hurt when I wake up. Wondering if that’s the start of arthritis. I feel too young for that, but still I have crampy fingers every morning.

    Congrats on your new venture – definitely a hot cover 🙂

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Sadly, yes–waking up with stiff hands can be an early sign of arthritis.

      I’m older than you by a few years, but I’ve got the nasty stuff in my spine and shoulders from all those years of carrying heavy bags of papers and books to and from school. Yet another hazard of being an English teacher!

      I finally got myself a rolling bag so at least I’ve got that pressure off, and it helps.

      The best treatment I’ve found so far is swimming–gets all the pressure off everywhere and lets me move and stretch without pain.

      I’m really hoping some clever tech person invents a flexible, shapeable polymer soon that can be injected between bones to replace worn-down cartilage.

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      • Lynda Bailey says:

        Good for you, Elisa, on getting a rolling bag! Taking the pressure off your shoulder and spine can make everything better, from your neck to your back to your knees and ankles. Even your feet benefit!

        And swimming is a wonderful option for working out. Absolutely no pressure is put on any of your joints. Do you swim laps or participate in an aquatics class? Remember Donnell’s post about her experience? That still makes me smile.

        Thanks again for letting me play with y’all today!

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        • Elisa Beatty says:

          Since I usually swim with my seven-year-old, my workouts pretty much involve being a sea monster and/or wild dolphin and/or evil shark who gets chased around and beaten up (or, if I’m lucky) tamed by a super-hero.

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    • Diana Layne says:

      yes, Liz, it can. I can email you some herb supplements suggestions and other tips I’ve found.

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Liz~

      Thanks! I love my cover – by Hot Damn Designs, BTW 🙂

      Getting up and walking is the BEST for your body if you spend tons of time sitting down. Even before my back surgery, walking, while sometimes a religious experience, kept me flexible. And stretching is the bomb, too. (I’m personally not so good on the whole stretching thing. I don’t really have the patience for stretching and/or yoga – but I’m learning!)

      Stiff fingers in the morning can be an early indicator of arthritis. Are your knuckles swollen? How long does the discomfort last? Is it every morning? If the discomfort comes and goes, it could be something in your diet which is making you retain water. When I’ve fallen off the healthy-food-choice wagon, I usually pay for it with immobile hands for couple of days.

      As always, check with your health care provider to find out for sure if it’s the start of arthritis and discuss possible treatment options.

      Stay healthy!

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  4. Congrats on your new release! Any suggestions for those who work with laptops? Either looking down or hands to high.

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Thanks Autumn~

      Laptops can be tricky. If you place them on a table, the keyboard is usually too high which can cause neck and shoulder pain. Also, with the computer on your lap, you’re looking down at the monitor which can strain your neck even more.

      My solution (again from when I had such terrible back issues last summer) was to sit in a pillow-stuffed La-Z-Boy (to help support my spine) with the laptop on my lap. I recline back so the monitor is about my eye-height and my elbows are at approximately 90 degress while I type. This set up has worked so well, it’s where I continue to do most of my writing today.

      But if your situation doesn’t allow for you to recline while working, try elevating your feet to bring the monitor higher – this also puts your elbows closer to 90 degrees. Then lean back in your office chair (if your chair swivels it should also rock.) These changes should help to alleviate at least some of your discomfort.

      Thanks for stopping by, Autumn!

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      • Kristina Mathews says:

        That is almost the exact position I’ve found to alleviate neck pain. Except I don’t have a lazy boy, just a chair with ottoman. I lean my neck against the back of the chair and raise my legs so my hands rest on the flat part. I’ve worked in offices with those awfull trays and wrist pads and tilting devices. In my opinion they make things worse. Tiliting the tray upward seems to put more pressure on the wrists. I think the wrist pad manufacturueres are in cahoots with the injury attorneys. My laptop keeps my wrists straight- no pressure.

        My other frequent writing position is in my car (I’m a little league mom, what can I say)? Again, if I lean back against the seat, it takes a lot of pressure off my neck. I just pull the seat all the way back, so I can have room. I also have the advantage of no internet, so I get a lot done while waiting for practice. Don’t know what I’m going to do when it warms up and it’s too hot to sit in my car for 2-3 hours. I guess I’ll need to find a good portable lazy boy…

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  5. Jane Sevier says:

    Congratulations on BBL, Lynda! That’s a very handsome cover.

    Have you thought about going on the road to help folks find their ergonomics mojo? I could sure use you in my office.

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      LOL Jane!

      Don’tcha know, sweetie? I HATE to travel. I needed like a whole shipment of Dramamine to get to Orlando in 2010.

      But if you’re serious about wanting an expert to check your set up, look through your local yellow/white pages. Ergonomics has become kinda a huge deal and I’m sure you can find someone who’ll help you both at home and at work. (‘Course, at work, you need to talk with your boss/supervisor. Most employers are sensitive to the ergonomic needs of their employees.)

      Thanks for popping in, sista!

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  6. Diana Layne says:

    I Do have early onset arthritis, and lately it was bad enough to send me to the doctor (I almost never go to the doc). One thing I do is drink a lot of water or herb tea so this forces me to get up for bathroom breaks and to refill. Every time I get up, I do stretches to work out the kinks. I’ve also improved my diet and found some supplements to take and have found these measures are helping.

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    • Diana Layne says:

      ps good luck with your book and thanks for blogging with us!

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      • Lynda Bailey says:

        Thanks Diana!

        Water/herbal tea (decaf of course) helps to flush toxins from your body – in case hitting the ladies room every thirty minutes didn’t tell you that already. 🙂

        Water/tea also helps to keep our joints hydrated and flexible. And food choices definitely impact the health of our joints!

        Eating saturated fats, like red meat, can increase the inflammation in your joints. But the Omega3 fats you get from fish and olive oil actually DEcrease the inflammation. Low vitamin D levels has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis. Drink low-fat, fat-free (to cut down on the saturated fat) milk, fortified with vit D. Also take a daily vit D pill with magnesium. (Magnesium helps your body absorb both vit D and calcium.)

        Finallly, Diane, I understand your unwillingness to go to the doc, but to keep yourself healthy it’s a must to seek out professional care. Always remember, though, you’re the one in charge of your body and the decisions made about it.

        Thanks for stopping by!

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        • Elisa Beatty says:

          ooh–I’d better try some magnesium. I was very low on Vitamin D, and my doctor put me on a serious dose for awhile, and it’s helped a lot. But I could use some more help absorbing it. (I’m not out in the sunshine much.)

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        • Diana Layne says:

          ck on all those, am doing. Went to a rheumotologist, even though I do hate taking the time to go to docs, and this one is over an hour away. I’ve also added some other supplements including Boswellia, Ashwaganda and a Hyuralonic joint compound. Will add turmeric after the next time I see the doc, but right now I’m trying an anti-inflammatory he prescribed and not really impressed. Big on herbs and supplements and nutrition, though yeah, for a while, I got busy and stopped taking care of myself…thinking I’d do it later. When I started hobbling, I figured later was now, lol. Good to know the flare ups can be controlled too, whew!

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          • Lynda Bailey says:

            Diane!

            I failed to mention that turmeric is one of nature’s natural anti-inflammatory medicines. Add it to your recipes (meat rubs and stews) and it should help out.

            Remember to put yourself FIRST! Here’s to your good health!

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  7. Congratulations, Lynda, on your release! I adore scrappy heroines, and Rory sounds like a firecracker. And thanks for the great tips. So how high should your keyboard be? Aligned with belly button? Arms at 90 degree angle?

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Thanks so much, Shelley! I truly love Rory and Kane – ‘course they’ve been around so long, I’ve had no choice but to love them!

      Your keyboard should be high/low enough so your elbows are at about 90 degrees with your wrists in neutral position. If you’re sitting at a desk, yes, that means about belly button height. Anything much higher or lower will cause issues. But everyone is a teeny bit different. Someone your height may need the keyboard and/or monitor at a slightly different angle. Rule of thumb: if something hurts or aches, something is probably wrong with your set up and needs tweaking.

      Thanks for popping in to say hi!

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  8. Tamara Hogan says:

    Between the day job and writing, I’m sitting at a table/desk, using a keyboard, and staring at a glowing screen 12 hours a day. Despite the attention I’ve paid to ergonomics, my neck inevitably takes a biggest hit. Do you have any suggestions for me? I need a really obnoxious timer that I can’t blow off. 😉

    Congrats on your release!

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Tamara~

      Ya, something loud and long that won’t shut off until you get outta that chair (and stay out for at least 5 minutes) would be perfect, don’tcha think?

      What kind of pain are we talking? Burning? Stabbing? Aching? If your neck discomfort is getting in the way of “life,” maybe try physical therapy. It might not be just tight muscles that’s giving you fits. You could also have ribs out. Your first ribs is actually on top of your shoulders and when either of those babies go out on me, I’m one unhappy camper.

      As a believer in alternative treatments, like chiropractors, massages and PT, I think they each have a place in keeping us aligned and healthy. Hope that helps!

      Stay healthy and thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Regina Duke says:

    Great blog! The best thing I’ve done for myself this year is to learn to use an exercise ball as a chair when I’m typing. It keeps me from cramping in a “vulture” position over the keyboard. I have to sit up straight on the ball.

    I’m tweeting you!

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Thanks Regina for *tweeting* me! 🙂

      Large stability balls do help to keep the “vulture posture” at bay. Unfortunately, I’m a bit too lazy to sit that straight for that long.

      Am glad it works for you, though! Stay healthy!

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  10. Liz Selvig says:

    Hey Lynda,
    This is an awesome post — but then, you are an awesome person so it follows! I have the world’s worst posture when writing, and I spend long hours at the computer lately, but fortunately, I am a total shiny object syndrome sufferer and I rarely spend more than 45 minutes or an hour at a time at my desk. I move while I write, I cross my legs in my chair and I shift around in my seat. If I get tight or tense I’m up and making a bed or getting the mail or whatever. That doesn’t make things perfect (as my spreading butt can attest to) but I’ve had less trouble with pain.

    I also have a lower back condition where one vertebrae is shifted forward. It was suggested by a PT that I use one of those exercise balls for a chair and I like it, but the one that fits me is too short to reach my desk, so I use the larger one only once in a while. Any thoughts on balls as chairs?

    Can’t wait to read BBL — it sounds amazing! I wish you tons of luck with it, my friend!

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Lizzie!

      I had to laugh at your “shining object syndrome.” But if it keeps you moving and not in your chair for hours on end, it’s a good thing.

      Regina (the post just before yours) swears by her “bouncy ball chair.” They do force you to sit straight. But as I said, I’m a bit too lazy to use ’em. (I know. Head hanging in shame here.)

      Go back to your PT and discuss the quandary of right-sized ball, but wrong size for your desk. He/she knows your situation and can give better advice than I can from 2,000 miles away. (How I wish we were closer!!!)

      Best of luck, back atcha! Thanks for dropping in!

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  11. Suzanne says:

    Always good advice, Lynda. I think you should have been a chiropractor or a physical therapist! But always a writer first! Folks, don’t forget to “like” Battle Born Love on Amazon & B&N. Great characters, hot love scenes, & the scene between Kand & his grandfather brought tears to my eyes.
    Eagerly awaiting the next book!
    –Suzanne

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Oh, Suzanne! Thanks so much for the kind words about BBL.

      My dad wanted me to become a chiropractor. Said he’d be my number one patient. 🙂 As far as being a PT, I’m pretty mean, but not THAT mean. LOL.

      Thanks for stopping by today! I love ya!

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  12. Rita Henuber says:

    Good tips! Thanks. Congrats on the book. Wishing you many sales.
    I recently injured my knee. Therapy is walk and stand. No more than three hours a day sitting. HA! Nice try doc. I find that frequently moving the monitor changes the way I sit. I also have two different desk chairs and a big ball -great for when back hurts. A chair massage pad is a help when things get hairy.

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    • Lynda Bailey says:

      Thanks, Rita!

      Take care of that knee, sista. You’ve only got two of them. 🙂

      I hadn’t considered that moving the monitor would alter the way you sit, but of course it does! Love those massage pads, too. Great for when you’re in-between hands-on massages.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. Just adjusted my screen a tiny bit higher. Thanks Lynda. And congrats on your release!

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  14. Lynda Bailey says:

    Bev~

    Hope the higher screen helps you.

    Thanks for stopping in!

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  15. Lynda, you sound like a girl after my own heart! I can’t wait to read your stories. I, too, have a repo chick in one of my stories. How fun is that?

    Congrats on everything and thanks for such a wonderful post! ~D~

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  16. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks for being with us today, Lynda!!

    Here’s wishing you fabulous sales for BATTLE BORN LOVE!!

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  17. Lynda, a BIG problem I have is neck pain due to my bifocal glasses. I have to tilt my head back to see through the bottom. A lot of times I work while looking down at my keyboard to try to relieve my neck. Any suggestions?
    BTW your book is definitely on my TBR list. It sounds terrific!

    Sandra Dailey
    sandradailey.author@gmail.com

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