**Disclaimer** I am not a doctor or a physical therapist. When you experience pain, you need to seek professional help. If you have had injuries in the past, consult a doctor or PT before establishing an exercise routine. Please don’t sue me.
These days, we know better than to separate any part of the body and treat those symptoms. My tendonitis actually started with overuse of my shoulder that caused everything to tighten and pull. My thigh was hurting because I have degenerative disc syndrome. Each part had to be strengthened and exercised to cure the over-all condition.
Eyes also need to be considered as part of a whole, such as your head and neck. Eye strain related to computer use can cause headaches, stiff necks, and dry eyes.
Personally, I hope my eyesight stays with me for a very long time. My family history included cataracts, but surgery is keeping up with that problem. Also glaucoma, but losing weight and keeping my blood sugar in line has slowed the progress there. I have two pairs of glasses, one for computer work and one for distance and reading.
A valuable lesson I learned from all the ergonomic training I have been involved with is to take a visual break every 20 to 30 minutes. Look up from your book, sewing machine, screen, chalk board, whatever, and look as far away as possible. Allow your eyes a few minutes to adjust focal range. While doing this, you might want to do a few shoulder rotations and stretches from last week’s blog. Then cup your hands and place them over your eyes. Obviously you will need to remove glasses or any eye wear. Does anyone wear monocles these days? DO NOT apply pressure to your actual eyeballs. What you want to do is create a portable darkness that will allow your eyes to relax completely, as when you sleep. So lids closed, darkness in place, count to thirty, and enjoy the retinal light show.
Here’s what the pros have to say: http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/ergonomics.htm
Another issue I deal with is hunching forward. I have a well-rounded figure, so checking on my posture now and then is part of my routine. Some of the consequences of my tendonitis included a tendency to hunch over, so that laying flat on the floor helped stretch things out. Even more so, a fat tube of foam of some kind laid along my spine let me stretch my shoulders back farther. Gravity assisted until it hurt, but each time the pain stayed away longer and longer. I used this position also to bring my knees up to my side, left to right, then right to left. This stretch is excellent for back muscles and tendons.
This Running Times article looks at the foam roller for working kinks out of muscles. Good use for it when you aren’t stretching: http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-treatment/almost-magical-foam-roller
The first part of this video shows the position of the foam roller that I used. I didn’t move my arms up and down as this person does, but just stretched to the side and let them hang there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nJ9ON9wbzc
We must be sure to know safe practices when it comes to eye wear. Thanks to my husband Mike, I have a pair of safety eye shields that fit over my glasses. I use them when building aviaries or even cleaning out cage trays. So far I haven’t done anything dangerous as far as writing goes, however. But here’s a link to some very good information about eye safety. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/preventing-eye-injuries.cfm
And that reminds me, as the page lists eye injuries from home improvement projects and such, I know one person who injured her eye when her toothbrush slipped, and another who did the same thing with a wooden mixing spoon. Maybe we should just wear eye protection all the time?
Well, believe it or not, you have muscles that work tirelessly in your eye area. Strengthening them can help you stay focused and injury free for years. I have a type of dyslexia (are there more than one type? I will look at that shortly) where my eyes don’t like to look at the same place at the same time. I can’t follow a straight line across a page or wall. My glasses are huge and correct for this. Also I have one lazy eye that lets the other one do all the work. These eye exercises will pretty much solve most of my problems, if I can get in the habit of doing them daily: http://www.wikihow.com/Exercise-Your-Eyes
And yes, there are several different types of dyslexia, and as I learned to read well, out-loud and to myself, we will assume that I loved reading enough to overcome this problem. Spelling, on the other hand, is a different matter. http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/what-is-dyslexia
To wrap this up, I will leave you with some positive quotes regarding writing:
“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD
All of these and more can be found on the Writers’ Digest web page:
Have a fantastic week!