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Operating Back Problems


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#16 Joshua Miller

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Posted 24 December 2010 - 02:50 AM

Just saw a chiropractor today actually. I op'd the Emerson Lipdub on a Glidecam V-16 with an EX-3 for 12 hours a few months ago and my lower back was killing me. Found out L1 and L2 (lower back) were completely misaligned, as well as my right hip.

To be fair, the misaligned hip is probably from alot of handheld operation, but having an older Glidecam that can't really achieve any sort of balance (you having to find its sweet spot as opposed to it having to find your sweet spot) on the body probably probably accounts for some painful misalignment.

Having a workshop with Peter really made me appreciate the value and necessity of a properly balanced rig not just on the gimbal but in relation to your body and on the vest. Oping a Varicam on a Zephyr was heavy, but wasn't very taxing on the back.
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#17 pauljackson

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 04:11 AM

I think that consulting a chiropractor will help defenitely The main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, including manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues; treatment also includes exercises and health and lifestyle counseling These newer correction methods are even safer, more comfortable and more effective than ever before.you should consult an expert.


Chiropractor Lawrenceville GA
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#18 Nick Karatsaousidis

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 02:22 PM

I will admit I am pretty new to operating.....

Haven't you tried to operate early version of your brothers made Actioncam? It was front mounted.

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#19 Michael Nelson

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 12:57 PM

I find that initially my back is fine, very comfortable. However, after not setting down the rig (50-60 lbs) after about an hour my back fatigues and slowly starts to turn into pain. Similar to doing a wall sit (although in the back and not my legs) where its easy at first, but after a while, the muscles ache and then it builds into pain. This pain back is alleviated when I put the rig into the resting position and is gone in a matter of seconds.

I believe I have the vest fitting correctly, not much weight on my shoulders, the rig is balanced so it floats in front of me while standing in a comfortable position and I'm not leaning one way or another.

Is this a matter of building up the lower back muscles and building up tolerance or is this type of fatigue/pain the type associated with something being incorrect?

On another note. I occasionally get pain in my upper left shoulder. (The same muscle that someone would massage with their thumb when they give you a stereotypical "neck massage") This pain is alleviated by stretching my arm straight down or lifting my right shoulder up to bring the padding off of my left shoulder. I thought this pain might be brought on my vest sitting crooked and putting pressure on the one shoulder but I have had people look at the way the vest fits me while in an operating stance (hands on rig, looking at the monitor) and they say it's straight. Some days it's no big deal, and others it can become uncomfortable. Reasons why I would have this pain
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#20 William Demeritt

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 01:42 PM

after about an hour my back fatigues and slowly starts to turn into pain
...
On another note. I occasionally get pain in my upper left shoulder. (The same muscle that someone would massage with their thumb when they give you a stereotypical "neck massage")


If it's your lower back muscles that are hurting, I would think it's probably just a fatigue issue. Remember, you may be in a comfortable position, but your body is still probably engaging muscles while holding the rig that you're not immediately aware of... not until the pain comes. I would think the best training to overcome that is to pushing it a little bit further beyond an hour each time... or get someone to take the rig from you for a quick 20 second breather! ;)

As for the other pain, I get this sometimes, but I just figured it came with the territory. If my lower back is keeping my back straight, proper posture, etc., then I figured my shoulders were pressing against the vest in the shoulders to maintain control. Give more leverage for booming up and around, that sort of thing.
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#21 Michael Nelson

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 10:20 AM

So I wanted to update my post from a few days ago. I've been playing around with my vest and trying to break down what might be causing the lower back to tire more/ less quickly. I've been manipulating everything on the vest one at a time and listening to my body to get really comfortable for long periods of time. Today I changed 3 things and had a very good, fatigue/pain free day.

1. I made sure the lower back pad sat directly on the small of my back. When it's too high, I definitely fatigue quicker. So it rests directly on the small on my back and the straps wrap right across the "love handles". Not too low, on my hips and not too high where my lower back gets now support.
2. Most of my lower back fatigue started on the left side of my lower back so I though I might be leaning slightly on way or another. To try and correct this I used the T-wrench to let the arm tilt to the right a little more (at the socketblock) This adjustment definitely re-balanced the weight evenly across my lower back.
3. I tightened up the lower back buckles fairly snug to make sure the top front of the vest stayed snug on my sternum and didn't hang off my body too much. This relieved some of the pressure being put on my left shoulder and now it is much less sore.

Good to say that I feel great and it's a nice way to welcome in the weekend!
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#22 Matteo Quagliano

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 05:39 AM

Thanks for sharing Michael. Very useful thread and good conclusions you get to.

my best
maqu
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#23 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 09:08 AM

after not setting down the rig (50-60 lbs) after about an hour


There is your problem.
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#24 Michael Nelson

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 10:05 PM


after not setting down the rig (50-60 lbs) after about an hour


There is your problem.


There's very limited chance to set it down during our show. We're getting it worked through about where to put a docking bracket in our small studio so I can rest it when for the few times it's not needed. It is a sort of "trial by fire" to get things fitting right and properly balanced.
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#25 PeterAbraham

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 09:30 PM

Thanks for the props, Joshua. Obviously I agree with Jerry here- take a workshop.

Here's a few examples of seemingly minor things that are amplified when operating a Steadicam. ( In no particular order of importance ). They are described as though one is operating on the Normal Side™. Those who are Goofy-Foot®, well, what can I say? :)

1. Your right shoulder and right side of neck are throbbing. The entire rig was adjusted properly and the vest was symmetrical in alignment and firm on the body. The discomfort created a headache that stuck all day, was distracting and makes you wish you could remove your entire right arm/shoulder area. Why? Because your right arm rests on the Steadicam arm slightly when you operate, and you have solved the issue by lifting your human arm up slightly so that you are not compressing the lower Steadicam arm section. More ergonomic and less painful solution? Don't lift up your arm and shoulder assembly. Instead, "open it up" by pivoting out slightly with the elbow. It raises a bit of a gap there under the arm pit, and raises the fore arm up off of the Steadicam arm section. Equally importantly, it does not scrunch up the muscles and tendons along the upper shoulder/ neck area. It leaves them relaxed yet solves the problem.

2. You're new to Steadicam. Got a workshop under your belt. Are trying to do all you've been told to do. Despite a lot of adjusting and careful analysis of your form, your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back are sore after relatively short shots. Come to find out you have flat feet. ( I did ). Custom cut fiberglass orthotic inserts lift the arch, aligning ankle, knee, hip, back, etc. Seems like such a small thing. The pain goes away, the muscles build properly as you build your skill set- and in proper alignment !

Just two examples. All by way of saying, if you are doing this properly, "those muscles" and the tendons and ligaments around L 1-2-3 are built up to a remarkable degree.

Be extremely aware and critical of your own form. If you've had a formal workshop, you have been shown good form by an expert Instructor. ( or Instructors as is the case with the Tiffen Workshops and S.O.A. Workshops ). Get someone to video you while you operate. Head to toe. Watch your form. The little things that were caught in the blizzard of new skills may turn out to be the things that are most critical as you move ahead with developing truly fine operational form.

Oh- to address the post just above mine: Use the Rest Position when you are not on air. Let the Control Room get used to seeing the ceiling of the studio. They will learn- you'll be there when they need you, and the rest position removes any angular pressures normally associated with flying a rig. Feels great ! Not as great as docking, but if docking is not possible, then rest it up on the shoulder whenever you can.

Best to all,

Peter Abraham
Steadicam Op 25 years

Dir. of Technical Services and G.M. of the Steadicam Workshops Program
The Tiffen Company
pabraham@tiffen.com
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#26 Eli Aronoff

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 05:44 PM

As far as back problems go, the stronger you can get your core the better off you'll be. When you're operating steadicam, a proper fit and good form is key to good health and good operating. When operating hand held, I use a back brace, the kind that you find at most drug stores. Hand held can really do you in, especially if you have a back issue.
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#27 kelso kubat

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 10:51 AM

sometimes i get a knot in my shoulder. but i broke my collarbone a few years back and ever since it has always annoyed me... if youre having pains get yourself one of them wizard sticks, so you can relax during breaks between takes. it might help save your back during downtime when shooting. i do this just to save energy on long, hot days.

Edited by kelso kubat, 03 August 2011 - 10:53 AM.

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