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News & Insight

7 Ways to Reduce Photo Shoot Pains

By Pye Jirsa on September 17th 2010

The following article is a guest post by Drexelle Park, a photographer from Orange County, CA. More of her and her husband’s work can be found at; and as always, we welcome your comments below.

Before becoming a photographer, I nearly got carpal tunnel from my desk job of 4 years. Repetitive stress of any kind hurts your body. Thankfully, the company gave me all the ergonomic tools and even software that popped up with reminders from the beginning to the end of the day to pause and stretch. Once I learned those habits, I stopped getting those pains.

Then, I became a photographer and learned about new pains. I was surprised to not see an emphasis on how to get rid of these repetitive stress pains after every shoot. So I learned methods to deal with them myself. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1 | Warm it up Before the Shoot

Do light cardio (walk, jog, bike) for just 10 minutes! Especially if the weather’s extra cold, this is key to warming your muscles and getting it ready to be stretched and worked.

2 | Stretches that Your Body Will Love

There are tons of stretches for the specific aches and pains you get regularly. But these are my personal favorites.

Upper Back
¢ Place your right arm over your left arm and, with palms inverted, place them together.
¢ Press your shoulders together to increase the stretch.
¢ Place your arms behind your back.
¢ Grab your palms together high up on your back.
¢ Then, with your hands clasped together, reach low.
¢ Switch and repeat.

¢ Widen your feet.
¢ Exhale as you roll your head to your right shoulder.
¢ Inhale and then roll to the left shoulder.
¢ Repeat.

¢ Lie on your back.
¢ Extend both legs.
¢ Place your right ankle over your left thigh.
¢ Reach your hand through the hole to hold the shin of your left leg.
¢ Clasp your left leg, lie back and pull.
¢ Switch legs and repeat.
DParkPhotography Stretches 003

¢ Widen your feet.
¢ Reach forward Ëœtil you reach the floor.
¢ Fold your arms and rock side to side.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

¢ Rest your knees on the floor.
¢ Pull your right knee forward and sit on your right ankle. Keep that right foot flat.
¢ Extend your left knee to the back.
¢ Place your right hand on the floor.
¢ Grab your left ankle with your left hand and pull.
¢ The further down you lie on your right side, the more you’ll feel it.
¢ Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

¢ Get into the yoga move – downward-facing dog
¢ Straighten the left leg and bend the right to stretch the left calf.
¢ Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

¢ Stand near a wall for support.
¢ Grab your right ankle and pull your heel up until you feel your thigh stretch.
¢ Tighten your stomach muscles.
¢ Keep your knees together.
¢ Hold for 30 seconds.
¢ Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

¢ Widen your feet.
¢ Rest your right elbow over your right knee.
¢ With your left arm, rotate widely 10x like you’re stirring a large pot.
¢ Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

¢ Widen your feet.
¢ Place your right arm across your body and keep it straight.
¢ Pull it back with the left arm to pull your bicep towards your neck.
¢ Then, reach your right arm up and grab the right elbow with the left hand.
¢ Gently pull the tricep behind the shoulder.
¢ Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

DParkPhotography Stretches 003


¢ Place both hands parallel in front of you.
¢ Close your hands to create a fist.
¢ Lower both fists downward. Hold.
¢ Raise both fists upward and open your hand to stretch all fingers outwards.
¢ Repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

Why Stretch?
You can do this for just 10 minutes! This will help you:
¢ Increase flexibility
¢ Improve joint motion
¢ Improves circulation to speed recovery after muscle injuries
¢ Reduce tension and soreness

Important Tips

¢ Breathe regularly.
¢ Go slow!
¢ Don’t bounce.
¢ Start with tight muscles first.
¢ Stretch both sides evenly.
¢ Don’t overstretch – If it just hurts, stop.

3 | Stretch During the Shoot

Repeat a stretch for any muscle that starts to get too tense during the shoot.

4 | Cool Down After the Shoot

Ugh, I know you think you’re done but this will seriously help. Spend 5-10 minutes to warm down your body to reduce the production of lactic acid.

5 | Stretch it One More Time

We know you’re beat from your long shoot, but it’s important to stretch one more time to reduce soreness and recovery time.

6 | Massage it

A gentle massage at any place that’s extra tender afterwards is a nice way to tell your body, “Don’t worry. I still love you. 

7 | Still Hurts Badly? RICE it

If you’re still in pain and it’s swelling, use RICE. Rest. Ice. Compress. Elevate.

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Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Good article

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  3. work from home

    Great site. Lots of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in
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  4. dig this

    Hello to every one, the contents existing at this
    site are truly amazing for people knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

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  5. Jason Harris

    Very useful, but am i to lazy?

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  6. Press | Featured on SLR Lounge – 7 Ways to Reduce Photo Shoot Pains « D. Park Photography | The Blog

    […] been featured on the incredibly helpful and amazing resource, SLR Lounge – an awesome place for photography tips, tutorials and wordpress […]

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  7. Jordan

    So glad you wrote this. I just had two shoots this weekend and I’m really feeling it today! My rig is close to 10 lbs. With flash plus battery pack and all. With this new generation of photographers you really need to be in great shape to get in the right positions quickly.

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  8. Mindy

    Really great article, I find doing videography I am constantly in pain after a shoot. I will definitely be trying out these tricks, thanks Drexelle!

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