Saturday, 25 April 2015

Photography Causes Shoulder and Neck Damage - The Treatment

I have carried neck pain and tightness in my shoulders for years. Carrying heavy camera and studio equipment around in addition to 10 hour shoots running around the pool with a 300mm lens eventually took its toll.

One time too many, I picked up a large load and sent my rotator cuff into unbelievable pain. I literally cried all night and carried my arm like a broken wing the next day. It was time to get it sorted.

I called Physiotherapist Dianne at Lindfield Physio who gladly fit me into her schedule immediately. Through ultrasound, electro treatment, massage and strapping we were able to get some relief. 

Dianne gave me a number of stretching and strengthening exercises that have become part of my daily routine.

Assistant Grace kindly offered to demonstrate for you.

Firstly is the support strap. It brought an incredible amount of relief. Ensuring my shoulders were pulled back, not hunched and well supported. Worn over a t-shirt with a cardigan or sweater over that, is the most ideal. Worn directly on the skin can cause chaffing.

Everyday, I do my neck stretching exercises. I turn my head left or right then point my chin toward the shoulder. Then repeat for the other side. An awesome stretch. 

Another great exercise is to push my chin in toward my chest as far is it will go. Sometimes I use my hand to help it along. It's a really ugly stretch that gives you several chins so you may want to do this one at home. I sometimes do my stretches in the car whilst at traffic lights and I do get some stares on that one!Then for strengthening, I use the rubber band, strap. In the above image I hold the band across my chest and pull my back toward my shoulder blades working my back muscles.
The next exercise is slightly modified.  This time my thumbs point upwards and I pull across my chest working my front muscles. 

With Dianne's help, we got me sorted with a harness which really provides added support and helps on those long, long shoots. I imagine it would be great for wedding shooters as well as us sport shooters.

We decided upon a ThinkTank Racing Harness with a few other bits added. The terrific guys at L&P Photographic in Artarmon fixed me up with it and made certain that it fit correctly.

For the first couple of shoots after I damaged my shoulder, I wore the support strap and the harness.

Lastly, Dianne made an office visit to make certain that my workstations were adequate. They weren't. 

She made several adjustments including the height of my monitor and my chair and now I'm all sorted.

It took a major incident to get myself sorted, but I really wish that I had seen to aches and pains beforehand and this may never have happened.

For two months, I was barely able to lift my arm, let alone shoot. When it is your job, your life, it's not a good thing to be out of action. So grateful to Dianne at Lindfield Physiotherapy for getting me sorted.

Nina Beilby is a professional photographer based in Chatswood, Sydney, Australia. You can see more of her work at

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With the crazy weather we have been having lately, it's not always possible to shoot outside. This space is ideal. Also terrific for product photography and baby portraits.  Rates are here on my website. Whilst you are there, check out my work. The majority of the images on this site were taken here in the Chatswood Studio.

There is a lovely viewing/waiting area. Street parking. 15 minutes walk from the station or bus stop right out front. There are coffee and tea making facilities as well as a microwave.