Recently a patient came in for physiotherapy after having had chronic neck pain and shoulder tightness, of several years duration. She recalled that prior to seeking physiotherapy, she had attempted to pick up a large load and experienced immediate excruciating pain into her shoulder, originating from her rotator cuff. The pain was so severe that for days she was unable to use her arm or even sleep. Finally, she knew she had to seek help. As a photographer she had to carry camera and studio equipment, which often weighed in excess of 15 kg. Photo shoots often took place outside, and could last in excess of 10 hours.

The patient called me and I saw her as a matter of urgency, and through massage, joint mobilisation and strapping she achieved immediate relief. I was able to provide her with some easy stretches and strengthening exercises, which have become part of her daily routine. I also organised her a supportive strap, to ensure her shoulders were pulled back and well supported, not hunched forward with the weight of the equipment. This assisted her with maintaining good postural alignment whilst working on long photo shoots.

The stretches I prescribed for her have become a part of her everyday routine. One of the stretches she finds particularly good for her neck involves turning her head to the left or right, then pointing her chin toward her shoulder. She then repeats to the other side. She described this as an “awesome” stretch. Another useful stretch for her to assist in relieving pain has been to push her chin in toward her chest as far as it will go, “like giving yourself a double chin”. She found it so easy and effective that it could be done anywhere, even in the car at traffic lights, or at work or home. Finally, she uses a stretchy rubber band across her chest to work her upper back muscles, training them to provide her with good posture. This is not just an exercise, but training a habit to be used every day.

My patient began using a harness (think tank racing harness) to provide additional support during long photo shoots, especially for long sporting events or wedding shoots. I also visited her office to ensure her workstation was adequate and not contributing to her problems. With a few ergonomic changes to her computer and chair height, we made sure that this component of her work would not exacerbate her injury. These changes along with regular maintenance posture exercises resulted in her being pain free at work and home.

In this patient’s case, it took a major episode of injury and pain to prompt her to seek help. For two months she was barely able to lift her arms let alone perform a photo shoot without pain. When it is your job, your life, your passion at stake, taking positive action to empower yourself is imperative.

At Lindfield Physio Centre I am committed to helping all my clients be pain free, strong and happy in work and life.