Court reporters spend hours and hours sitting, straining to hear, and are banging on the keyboard with thousands of strokes a day. Court reporting is a strenuous career and can be tough on the body. When I was in high school, I was diagnosed with having scoliosis and lordosis. Lordosis is defined as an inward curvature of a portion of the vertebral column. Scoliosis is defined as the spine curving away from the middle or sideways. In my opinion, becoming a court reporter was probably the worst profession I could have chosen for my spine/posture.
I have been a big producer in my career, writing on the average approximately 2,000+ pages a month year after year. For most of that time I did my own scoping and proofing (more hunching over a computer).
I became a licensed court reporter in 1981. By 1991 my neck and shoulders were in constant pain. I was taking eight Advils a day. One of my girlfriends suggested I start getting massages. I thought of massages as something rich people get when they are on vacation. My first masseuse was Renee’, a holistic South African woman. She suggested yoga. In those days I was very driven, worked all of the time, and thought of yoga as something limber people could do, but wasn’t for me. I was really insecure about my lack of limberness and my posture. So I didn’t take her advice, but I would get massages here and there and kept up with my Advil regime.
But then in 1996 I started to lose the ability to write a final S. My right pinky finger was getting really weak. Then I had trouble with my final T. My right ring finger didn’t work right. Both fingers were tingling. I was getting scared. Another friend of mine recommended I go see a man, Steve, who did “sports massage.” When I went to him, I was desperate. After looking me over, Steve recommended I get weekly massages and simultaneously go through a Rolfing program to expedite loosening me up. The Rolfing and Steve’s massages were super painful, but I loved every minute of it. My fingers came back to normal within a couple of weeks. It turns out my neck muscles were so tight the nerves in my fingers were losing power.
I have been receiving bi-weekly massages for the past 19 years. My neck and shoulders are pain free, and I haven’t a low backache with spasms since I started my massages. Now, I play soccer, do a boot camp, and lift weights at the gym. My goal is to improve my posture, so I do a lot of shoulder, chest, and low back work.
I will always have lordosis/scoliosis, but if I can slow it down and have fun, I am happy. If I could go back in time, I wish I would have been doing yoga, Pilates, weight lifting, dancing – anything – parallel with going to court reporting school and kept exercising throughout my career.
The reason I am writing all of this is to advise young court reporters to pay attention to your bodies. It is imperative to exercise and stretch. Hopefully, you have fun and enjoy exercising. Keep thinking of yourselves as professional athletes – and your sport happens to be writing super fast and being incredibly accurate – your sport is court reporting. Keep your body fit for your sport.