Thursday, February 20, 2020

Top 12 Ergonomic Writing Tips

by Susan U. Neal RN, MBA, MHS @SusanNealYoga

Do you have a physical condition that is aggravated by writing? I do. I suffer from a right wrist injury from gardening that flares up when I do a lot of cutting and pasting on my computer. Writers perform repetitive movements that can injure muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. A common injury is carpal tunnel syndrome, but repetitive motions can also cause back and neck injuries. However, we can use strategies to prevent injuries and help heal them.

First, perform an ergonomic assessment of your writing area. This includes your desk, chair, computer screen, keyboard, and items that you use routinely. Please take note of the following twelve tips, during your assessment, to keep your body from being injured as a result of this trade.
  1. Assess your writing chair; does it provide proper back support, and are your feet placed flat on the floor? Studies show that a reclined posture of 100–110 degrees is best versus 90 degrees. Your head and neck should be as straight as possible. 
  2. Recently, I invested in myself and my writing career by purchasing a Stressless reclining chair by Ekornes and the attachable computer table. The table attaches to the chair and swivels so I can move it out of the way when getting in and out of the chair. It allows me to sit in a slightly reclined position with my laptop on the computer table directly above my lap. 
  3. Ensure your computer screen is directly in front of you versus angled to one side. The height of the screen should be at a level where the user does not have to tilt their head up or bend their neck down to see it. The user’s eyes should be at a level that is 2–3 inches below the top of the monitor. 
  4. Check the level of your keyboard so that your wrists are straight/flat and not bent up or down. Your elbows should be at 90 degrees or greater and close to your body. 
  5. Buy an adjustable computer stand for working on your computer while standing. It is beneficial to change positions so we do not sit all day long. With a computer stand, you stand up and read from your computer screen. Click here to see the one I purchased. If you have a bar-high countertop, this level works almost as well. I stand when I am reading and editing my work. Purchase a swiss ball to sit on occasionally while working on your computer. Swiss balls are large, heavy-duty inflatable balls that provide constant micro-movement in your back to help prevent back injuries. If you suffer from back problems, a swiss ball may help. Occasionally, I also use an orthopedic seat/tailbone shield that keeps my back in proper alignment. 
  6. Use a wrist/hand brace to prevent or treat wrist injuries. I purchased the type that is like a thin glove that goes over my wrist, but the fingers are cut out (support glove). This brace helped me to keep writing when I had a deadline, but my wrist injury flared. My right wrist injury primarily flares when I repeatedly cut and paste. Therefore when I perform this repetitive motion, I place my right hand on my lap and only use my left hand. This helps to improve and prevent additional injury to my wrist. Do you utilize techniques to prevent aggravating a physical condition? 
  7. Dictate more of your writing versus typing. I dictate into the Notes app of my iPhone and email it to myself. I cut and paste the email into a Word document. That is how I started this article. 
  8. Exercise classes such as Pilates and Christian yoga help prevent and heal injuries. Walking is very beneficial. Weight training for the upper body and back helps improve improper writing posture. 
  9. Minimize eye strain because it can cause headaches, sore neck/shoulders/back, and difficulty concentrating. Determine when was the last time you had an eye exam. Are your glasses prescription strong enough? 
  10. Make sure you have adequate lighting. I sit by a window for natural light. When I read items on paper, I turn on a floor lamp behind my chair to provide additional lighting. 
  11. Invest in blue light glasses to protect your eyes and prevent eye strain. Blue light is emitted from your computer screen and other screens that you use and can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Santa got me this pair of Blublox glasses for Christmas, and I like them. Minimize screen time after dark and lower the lights in your home to improve sleep. 
  12. Give yourself a Sabbath break from writing on Sundays. Instead go out for a long walk at a nearby state park or nature trail. Get back to the natural beauty that God created. Walking and rest declutters your mind and sparks creativity. 
These twelve ergonomic tips plus Tips to Stay Physically Active When Writing and Healthy Writer Habits will help you maintain your physical fitness. Writing is a physically taxing career. To ensure our body’s sustainability, we need to be smart about the habits and tools we use to take care of our bodies. When you take care of your physical health, you produce your best work for the Lord.


Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS
Susan’s mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She has her RN and MBA degrees, as well as a master’s in health science. She is a CERTIFIED HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACH with the American Association of Christian Counselors. She published five books, the Selah award winner 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATES, CHRISTIAN STUDY GUIDE FOR 7 STEPS TO GET OFF SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATES, HEALTHY LIVING JOURNAL, SCRIPTURE YOGA a #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book, and YOGA FOR BEGINNERS which ranked #3. She published two sets of Christian Yoga Card Decks and two Christian Yoga DVDs that are available at CHRISTINAYOGA.COM. Her digital product HOW TO PREVENT, IMPROVE, AND REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA is a great resource. To learn more about Susan visit her website SUSANUNEAL.COM You can also connect with Susan on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. Thank you for these excellent tips and resources, Susan!

  2. Wonderful reminders of how to take care of your body when using the computer. Thank you.

  3. Thanks Susan for your suggestions!

  4. Thanks Susan - it’s helpful to see all this ergonomic wisdom in one place. :)

  5. This is the first post I've read that addresses the pain you can inflict on yourself from writing. In the past few months, I've made some of the changes you suggested and still deal with a lot of muscle pain in my neck, shoulder, wrist, and back. Thank you for your tips!

    1. Hopefully, you can apply some more tips to help with that pain.

  6. I didn’t know about blue light glasses. Thanks for all the tips!

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