Common Injuries in Photographers and How to Prevent them

By: Mr Teong Kar Loon, Pharmacist at Unity 100 AM

First seen in Lifestyle Magazine (October 2013), pg 109. This article is an unbreached version of the printed edition.

Introduction

A professional photographer uses photography to earn a living and amateur photographers take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, or person. Photography is an athletic occupation. It is very common to see photographers squatting on the sidelines of a basketball court or even crouching at wedding ceremonies. A photographer often requires strength, flexibility, speed and endurance during photography. They usually need to carry multiple camera bags, lenses, a tripod or monopod. All these equipment are heavy and can cause injuries to them. Unlike athletes, many photographers do not know how to prevent the common injuries due to photography.

Common injuries encountered by many photographers are

  • Back Injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Shoulder pain
  • Sore elbows and wrists
  • Blisters
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Tendinitis (inflammations of tendons)
  • Contusions (bruise)

In addition, photographers using digital photography may also suffer from repetitive-stress injuries such as carpal-tunnel syndrome, mainly due to long hours spent in processing the photographs on a computer. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. Besides that, poor dietary habits can result in weight problems that may exacerbate back and neck problems.

Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common ailments in photographers. Almost all photographers will experience it at some point in their lives. Back and neck pain are commonly caused by muscle and ligament strains. The risk factors that can injure back muscles and ligaments include:

  • poor posture
  • weak muscles
  • heavy lifting and bending
  • sitting for long periods, especially in poorly designed work areas
  • poor mobility or staying in one position for long periods
  • being overweight

We are all familiar with the saying ďAn ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.Ē It is very important to know how to position your back properly. Always keep your back straight, sit, walk and stand with balanced and relaxed posture. All these techniques can help to relieve and prevent back injuries.

To prevent common injuries such as back pain, photographers can follow as below:

  • For good posture, stand tall, rest shoulder down and back, tighten your stomach, tuck your bottom in and soften your knees.
  • To lift a load, bend at the hips and knees, with feet apart. Hold load close to your body, tighten your stomach muscles and lift by using your legs, keeping your back straight.
  • Stop any activity that causes pain, leg numbness or tingling.
  • Choose seats that support the lower back and thighs along their whole length. Sit right back with feet flat on a footrest.
  • Position the workstation, computer and chair for good posture.
  • Keep a healthy body weight.

Practical Advice

Photographer should learn and practice regular stretching and flexibility exercise before and after a job and this can help prevent soreness and injury. Flexibility in certain muscle groups can have a protective effect. Here are a few practical advices to minimize development of injuries in photographers:

  • Use rolling bags when possible
  • Limit equipment that carry around the neck
  • Donít carry backpacks on one shoulder
  • Use a monopod on heavier lens
  • Rest your hand after a long shoot
  • Simple stretch before and after shooting
  • Eat healthy; maintain ideal body weight
  • Drink water; limit coffee and alcohol. Avoid dehydration
  • Donít smoke.

Photographers are just like athletes who need great physical demands and fitness to carry out their job tasks. They should be fit and healthy in order to prevent/reduce injuries and disability that can limit or end their shooting careers. Therefore, it is important and useful for them to know tips on how to prevent common injuries during their shooting activity.

Reference

A guide to the prevention and treatment of back pain, Dr. Joshua Raj

The complete book of Menís Health, Mitchell Beazley

The healthy photographer: Injury prevention Optimizes Business Success, www.ppmag.com

www.mayoclinic.com