Photofit - Exercises for Photographers
As I’m sure some of you already know, as well as a landscape photographer I am also a Chartered Physiotherapist (or Physical Therapist as it’s called in some countries) and a Clinical Pilates Instructor.
So when it comes to the body, how it works and how the body responds to injury and exercise, I do have some background.
In my life as a physio, I have treated many amateur and professional photographers for a variety of conditions and I have been aware of several trends in the types on injuries that photographers tend to sustain and how they often seem to get them. I also find it strange that there is a plethora of advice out there (some better than others) through books and online resources on injury prevention and management for sports people, hikers, athletes, office workers, manual workers and many other groups. Yet there is a huge gap when it comes to photographers.
Think about landscape photography for a moment.
Landscape photography places an unusual strain on the body. Much like hikers, we arrive on location, sort out out pack and start walking, sometimes for a long while, to get to our location. Depending where you’re photographing, this location could be up a mountain, in a valley, or a long walk away from the car park.
We sometimes need to rush to get to a location before the best light goes – even with meticulous planning, how many times have you had to rush and end up at a location like a fell runner, out of breath and more than a little flustered (it happens to me more often than I’d like to admit)!
Once at the location, we walk around, get up high, squat down low, climb a small hill to get a different view point, come back down and then change our mind and climb back up. I’ve been known to spend ages wondering around a location, looking at it from different angles and different perspectives and then………..we wait for the light.
It might only take a minute or so, or it might take several hours, but once we have our composition, we have to wait it out. At this point, we’re usually so immersed in the photography that doesn’t really matter what position our body is in; contorted over the tripod into some strange shape that the Cirque du Soleil would be proud of, kneeling on a hard cold rock, squatting low down, even half sitting in a tree (these are only a few of the many weird and wonderful positions I’ve found myself in trying to get a shot)
We get the shot we came for and then come back home where we then sit, hunched over our computer or laptop for several hours at a time excitedly editing the images - again, if you’re anything like me you get so into it that you don’t notice your posture.
Now I know the process might be different for different people, but I bet many of you can relate to at least one of the stages above?
So, in order to get one picture, we might have done any or all of the followin:
Sat in the car for a long time
Hiked over challenging terrain carrying a heavy load without warming up
Stayed still (without cooling down or stretching) in an awkward position or in a poor posture for a long time
Walked back with our heavy load without warming up
Sat in the car for a long time
Hunched over our computer editing images for several hours
Does this sound familiar? It does to me and I really should know better!
Is it any surprise that so many amateur and professional photographers suffer from: bad backs, shoulder and neck problems, tennis or golfers elbow, Achilles tendon problems, knee pain, Plantar Fasciitis and other musculoskeletal problems.
So, is there anything that can be done?
The short answer is Yes
It will require a little work.
Don’t worry though, because help is at hand!
I am starting a regular segment in the blog focusing on how to become “photofit” (fit for taking photo’s). Over the coming months, I hope to create a resource of exercises to help prevent, or at least reduce the likelihood of, you developing one of the common musculoskeletal problems that I mentioned above. Some of the posts will be preventative, aimed at preventing a condition arising in the first place, whilst some posts will offer advice on things you can do yourself at home, or when out on location, if you have one of the conditions above.
However, it is worth mentioning that I am in NO WAY advocating that you don’t seek medical attention from either a GP or physiotherapist. If you think you have one of the conditions above, please get help and get a full assessment where a more bespoke treatment plan and exercise program can be made.
Because I want the Photofit resource to be quite thorough and fully in-line with current clinical research, it will take me a while to research and write each article. I will therefore be posting a Photofit article once per month, on the Third Friday of every month, so keep an eye out as I build and develop this resource.
Is there anything in particular you would like me to cover in the Photofit series? Do you have any ideas that you would like me to research and do an article on in the future? If so, please leave a comment with ideas, suggestions or general comments below.