Being a working photographer, and even as a weekend warrior, I'm sure we all suffer from low back pain after finishing a long day of shooting. This pain can last for days and sometimes weeks, and as photographers, if we can’t move, then we can’t work. So lucky for us, there is a simple solution.
Low back pain is reported to affect at least 80 percent of people at some point in our lives, and most people abide by the thought that these instances of back pain will go away on their own. The truth is that 62 percent of people that suffer from back pain will still experience pain 12 month down the line and this pain accounts for more than $90 billion dollars in health care expenses per year.
One of the main problems we face as photographers is that we live in a world of two extremes. We either sit in a chair all day behind a computer or we are on our feet all day behind the camera. The problem with this is that most people don't know how to do either in the most optimal way. In addition, sitting in general — even when done properly — leads to a host of compromises in that position.
First let's talk about sitting. Most of us have seen something similar to the image above and this is known to be the best sitting position. The problem with this is the amount of time we spend here. Our muscles and joints get locked down in these 90-degree angles which end up limiting us from fully closing or fully opening the joint. When we can’t fully open our hips, the only way we can fully stand up is to overextend at the low back. Below is a video that demonstrates this idea along with some mobilizations we can do while sitting:
Over the course of a day you may wake up and sit down for breakfast, then sit while you drive to work, sit while you work, sit while you drive home, sit for dinner, then you relax and sit down for some TV time. It’s easy to see the ratio of how much we sit to how much we stand, and our bodies are getting locked down in the position we spend the most time in. The key to this concept is that once we are done sitting, we need to try and reverse the damage we have caused from being in a compromised position for so long. Below is another video that walks through some basic fixes to try and reverse the effects that sitting can cause:
As photographers, not only do we spend time sitting behind the computer, we also deal with a lengthy amount of time on our feet. Not only does spending time on your feet have its own issues, but it may already be difficult, since we are going to be fighting the problems we caused from sitting. Now that we have an idea of how to address these issues, we need to address the proper way to stand. The following video shows some concepts about how to maintain stability in your trunk while relieving tension in the low back by applying external rotation in the hips:
Now that we have seen some of the problems we face from sitting and we have a better idea about how to stand, the next logical step is to move to a standing desk. More and more companies are incorporating the standing desk into their businesses along with entire school systems ditching the traditional desk. The below video walks through some more concepts about how to stand and how to incorporate this into a standing desk:
All of the above information is just some of the basics about the problems caused from sitting, how to fix them, and how to stand correctly. The last video I want to share with you is a longer presentation about these ideas from a talk given at Google headquarters. The video outlines additional ideas about how to move and sit correctly, as well as giving more movements you can do to fight the effects of sitting as you're sitting down.
What does everyone think? Have you experienced back pain after long days of sitting or long days of shooting? What are some other things that cause you pain after a long day? Give the stretches and concepts a try and let me know in the comments if they have helped you. You can also find a lot more information on mobility and movement from Mobility WOD.
[Statistics source: American Spinal]