As a photographer, it’s not uncommon for you to experience joint and muscle pains. These can be caused by the repetitive motions of your arm and shoulder as you take pictures with long lenses or tripods. Photographers may also develop carpal tunnel syndrome from spending hours behind a computer editing photos, or they could have neck pain due to the weight of their camera gear.
It is important that photographers learn how to prevent these physical pains before they become an issue. The following blog post will discuss types of joint and muscle pains that photographers face, as well as provide tips on how best to deal with them!
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
Description: Carpel tunnel is an entrapment of the median nerve, which travels through your wrist and into your hand. It can cause pain in any one or more of these areas along the path it takes.
Symptoms include numbness, tingling, burning sensation in fingers &/or hands (usually thumb to little finger), and pain in the wrist.
- Wear a brace when you’re experiencing symptoms or if you think it may be coming on (it can make your symptoms worse before better). – Stop what you are doing to give yourself time to rest & heal. If necessary, take breaks of at least five minutes every hour while you are working on a computer. – Keep your shoulders back and down, elbows at chest level in front of you while using a mouse or touchpad, make sure wrists aren’t turned inwards. Don’t grip items that require pinching with thumb & index finger for long periods of time.
- Try to avoid sitting with arms crossed when shooting.
- Keep your neck in line with spine (don’t look down when taking photos).
- Use a computer without strain for at least 20 minutes everyday if possible; try to break up usage into smaller blocks of time throughout the day, and take regular breaks.
- Stretch out fingers & wrists for at least five minutes.
- Make a fist with one hand and place it over your opposite wrist, holding this position until you feel the stretch &/or tension release. Repeat on other side of body.
Description: This is a disorder that affects the joints, and it can also cause pain in other areas of your body. Symptoms include stiffness, swelling or redness in one or more joints (especially hands), loss of function in a joint.
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control if you have diabetes/impaired glucose tolerance; uncontrolled blood sugar can worsen symptoms.
- Use assistive devices as needed (canes, walkers, braces).
- Ice the affected joint for 15 minutes every four to six hours; if you have swelling, use a cold pack or ice wrap. Limit heat exposure to the area.
- Exercise regularly (especially strengthening exercises), and weight train (avoid using weights that cause pain). Warm up your muscles before exercising.
- Alternate hot and cold showers; do this for 15 minutes, several times a day if you can.
- Wear supportive shoes or foot braces as needed; check with podiatrist &/or doctor to ensure safety of high heels.
- Gently move the joint through its range of motion.
- Take a supplement such as glucosamine chondroitin sulfate, which helps to rebuild cartilage and improve joint function.
- If you are in pain, take over the counter antiinflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen) to help relieve pain.
- Use moist heat or a heating pad to help ease pain & stiffness in the affected joint(s).
- Do gentle range of motion activities that don’t cause you discomfort.
Jen is a freelance photographer. She took a lot of pictures for various magazines and events. Aside from this blog, she shares her passion by conducting workshops and seminars.