The beginning of the year may be filled with a lot of hope. However, it’s also a time of brand new stressors! Whether you’re starting a new screenplay or book, editing a current project, or working on deadline, there’s bound to be new stress coming your way.

Over the past year, I have provided useful tips for combating eye strain, headaches, carpel tunnel, and more. Now it’s time to travel down the body to relax the back. It’s important to loosen-up the back from the neck to the waist, remind the shoulders to come back down where they belong, and improve our breathing patterns. This will lead to increased productivity and a healthier you.

As always, my first rule is Never Move Into Pain. If it hurts, slow down, make the movement smaller, or just stop. Having established the ground rules, let’s begin.

1) Sit nice and tall on the edge of your chair

2) Put your hands on your lap, as close to your knees as you can get them without having to lean forward

3) Gently, drop your chin to your chest and push your spine back. Don’t rock in your seat and don’t move or change the angle of your arms. The only thing that should be moving is your spine

4) Straighten up nice and tall, pushing the crown of your head to the ceiling and pushing your spine forward. Again, don’t rock in your seat and don’t move your arms/shoulders. Be careful you don’t tip your head too far back

5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 two to three more times. You should feel your chest and shoulders relax

6) For extra credit, you can rotate your torso slightly (only from the waist up), place both hands on one leg, and try again. The added rotation adds to the complexity of the movement, and sometimes provides relief that doing it straight ahead cannot.

Just do a couple of reps a few times a day until you feel better… and release your stress. It’s a simple, fast, and effective way to feel better quickly.

Keeping the spine loose and mobile makes you resilient against an awful lot of injuries, and will help you sleep better, breathe better, and reduce stress.


Jen Waak is a Seattle-based movement coach who uses a system that combines eastern philosophy with western medicine to reprogram the nervous system and get people out of pain, moving better, and feeling younger.


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  1. […] with their ears up around their shoulders as a result of the stressors of everyday life, then this month’s Jen’s Gems…for the Healthy Writer is just for […]

  2. […] Jen’s Gems … for the Healthy Writer: Relax the Back by Seattle-based movement and fitness coach Jennifer Waak. […]


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