Court Reporting is a tough job, particularly on our bodies. But with these self-care options, captioners and court reporters might just feel better at the end of a long day. Kim Neeson (she of the very long neck and torso!) shares her experience.
For years, exercise with weights (and a trainer from time to time) helped me stave off my neck problems for long periods of time. By getting stronger physically, I was able to carry myself better during the day - be it sitting straighter, shoulders back, doing subtle neck and shoulder exercises during the day, even while sitting and writing steno for long periods of time. Exercise alone worked for me quite a long time, and bought me many pain-free days.
Getting regular massages from a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)or Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) is a must for court reporters and captioners. First and foremost, make sure you go to someone that knows what they're doing. Like court reporters, there are good and bad in this profession too. When I want a serious (not a relaxation spa) massage, I go to my chiropractor's office as they offer this service. My chiropractor will recommend which therapist to see, and will speak to him/her to ensure they are working on the muscles correctly for maximum effect.
Having said that, there is nothing like a totally relaxing massage where nothing is really "worked" on, just to destress, and the spa is just the place! I take advantage of both options.
There came a point in my life, however, when I kind of got stuck - literally. I couldn't move my neck hardly at all, and certainly not without any pain. A friend of mine suggested I see her chiropractor. Now, I'm going to be the first one to say I was extremely reluctant to see a chiropractor...but I was desperate.
Dr. Sid Lisser saved me. It was a very long process and involved no "cracking" at all, but muscle stretching, particularly of those nasty, not-my-friend, scalenes! I would venture to say that most captioners or court reporters suffer from scalene issues, and finding someone who can help loosen them is critical.
Recently, I have availed myself of a physiotherapist, after an MRI confirmed that indeed I had some significant neck issues going on. Lucky for me, my husband was seeing an amazing fellow, Phil Edwards, who specializes in soft tissue injuries. I've linked to Phil here, so you can read about his qualifications, as I'd highly suggest you find someone of his calibre in your area (having experienced a few others who were not nearly as talented, it was like having nothing done at all). Phil's approach is very much focused on the scalenes and other soft tissues areas of the neck, shoulders and even my head at its base. After a session with him, I feel so much better and more "loose."
A Special Pillow
Yep, those funky, weird-shaped pillows are a must for us steno machine writers. I use the Muscle Care Pillow which has served me very, very well for many years, and I have friends who are using it with the same success. However, another pillow that's worked for a number of people is the Purple Pillow. Beware, though, the Purple Pillow weighs A LOT. I even travel with my full pillow because one night on a bad pillow throws my neck and shoulders into a tailspin!
TENS Machine - THE BOMB!
Phil Edwards, my physiotherapist, suggested I purchase a TENS machine. For a mere $70 Canadian, I have now got a device that is amazing at taking away my daily aches and pains about 80% of the time. I purchased this device on Amazon plus some extra pads as you will need to replace them from time to time.
What does the TENS machine do? According to Pain and Injury Doctor (YouTube):
"A TENS unit (Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) is a small device about the size of a deck of cards that can be used for managing sub acute or chronic pain. It works by 'interfering' with pain signals to the brain, by flooding the pain-generating tissues with small, electrical currents that are thought to 'compete' with the pain signals traveling to the brain, resulting in reduced perception of pain. It does not do anything to cure the injured site."
This little device can go anywhere, and I bring it with me wherever I go. When my neck and shoulders start acting up, often by applying the TENS machine for a mere 10 minutes, I can break the pain pattern and feel a whole lot better. This little device can also be used on your arms and back, where we court reporters also feel a lot of tension.