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#1 Nicholas M. Chopp

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Posted 29 January 2005 - 02:39 AM

I'm relatively new to flying, and am the DP\Steadi Op for a feature-length film being shot here in southern Minnesota. I'm on a Glidecam V-8 (ridiculously low budget student film) with the Panasonic DVX-100.

My main concern is back support. Do any of you wear an additional back brace of any kind? I realize this is an extremely light kit, but I can already tell it may get to me. I'm only 5'5" and 120 pounds, so the thing's almost half my weight.

Related, do any of you regularly visit a chiropractor? Is that something I should consider?

I'm sorry if these are irritiating questions, I did a search and it didn't really come up with anything.

I'm having a great time, but damn is it exhausting. I have SO much respect for you guys and gals out there flying Master rigs with Panaflexes on them... I'm amazed.

Just as sort of an introduction, I've spent quite a bit of time in A\V Production and Broadcasting, with some limited experience in filmmaking. (Worked with Filmmakers Alliance and Jacques Thelemaque out of LA this past summer) I make my living as a DJ, mostly mobile work, MCing. I do SOME professional photography, when I have the time. I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons a bit with flying, and hope to get a lot of help from the professionals here.



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#2 David George Ellis

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 10:33 PM

Hey Nicholas,

It's gonna hurt no matter what you do. I myself have never heard of additional back support being used although I haven't been around the block as many times as some of the others in this neighborhood. The one thing I may suggest is if there are any adjusments you can make to either the vest, sled or socket block, try playing with them in your downtime to possibly aid you in slowing the pain.

I know you say you're relatively new to this game, but I'm not sure if you have taken a workshop or if you really know your rig cuz maybe you may need to just tweak something and make it feel more "natural." And it's possible your body just hasn't had the proper amount of time to get used to the added weight. But if you are feeling extreme pain or even worse, numbness, you need to readjust or retire.

In my case, there's a break-in period when I put the rig on for the first time in the day. But once everything settles in, I can fly all day with a smile knowing I can shoot the piss out of what the director needs the piss shot out of. Maybe there is something you can find from Glidecam, or someone here will have better news for you. Hope this helps a little. Good luck.

David
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#3 WillArnot

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 11:24 AM

When I took my workshop in '91 there was a guy there who years before had slipped a disc in his back while lifting something heavy. The ground was somewhat slippery where he was lifting and as he was begining to lift, the heel of one foot slipped suddenly in an outwards direction. I have always remembered his story and kept the lesson close: ALWAYS BEWARE AND NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR FOOTING.

The other point of the story is that he always wore a lifting belt under his vest simply as a protective measure. I also took this valuable tip with me. See how important those workshops are!? I tried the belt thing once and never looked back. It absolutely helped minimize fatigue, while also protecting anything in the lower back area from being wrenched in the wrong direction.

These belts cost about $20 and are priceless. They are the ones that Fed-EX or UPS guys wear or any people who are picking things up and using their backs all day long - sound familiar? Personally I found an excellent one made by ACE, like the bandages - you should be able to find them in any big pharmacy type places. Hardware stores also sell them like Home Depot or Lowes. They are generally thin black elastic material that have vertical 'ribs' woven in - maybe 3 or 4 - around the lower back area for support. Say one tall one in line with your spine and one or two shorter ones on either side. The really good one I found was like two overlapping cumerbunds (tuxedo accessory) across the belly. The first one would tighten the less stretchy material that had the ribs in it. And then the top layer was more stretchy and very form fitting elastic that would provide a very snug, low-profile fit. The whole belt is suspended over the shoulders with thin adjustable elastic straps. These too are not noticeable at all when wearing the steadi vest. They are good to have b/c then you are less inclined to take off the belt after removing the Steadicam vest, you just loosen up the velcro elastic front and the belt remains hanging on you.

The other great benefit was comfort for me since the belt provided a perfect wrinkle free layer between my body and the vest, especially on my hip bones. Remember the belt is about 6 inches tall in the front and about 12 inches tall across the lower back, and no thicker than a T-shirt. When you first get it may seem a little too much to wear under your vest. But believe me, one or two sweaty hours in the rig and the belt really becomes a part of you.

One last back-saving vest tip was from the illustrious Peter Abraham, being the maestro of FM vest re-builds and mods. Consider the small pad on mostly all FM vests that is at the middle of your back around the waist. As well as the footprint of this pad being rather small, I found that often the way the plastic and pads wrapped around the hips meant that I could never get that pad to be snug up against the bottom of my spine no matter how much I tightened the waist(you should not be able to slide your fingers in between the pad and your back). It only makes sense therefore to add a pad. Now Peter's idea takes this one step further. Increase the surface area of that pad so that there is more contact, and therefore more support, for the lower back. So here is what you do. Find a piece of very rigid plastic cut so that it is about the same width as the pad but about 2-3 inches taller on the top AND the bottom. Fix this to the INSIDE of the back pad (velcro / tape). Then get some nice 2 inch closed cell foam cut to the same size as the plastic square and glue / velcro it on the inside again. You should now have a very nice lumbar support for your lower back.

Having no slippage or movement in your Front Mounted vest is critical to good operating and getting through long days. These two tips should drastically help you achieve both. They did for me.

Then of course you can just save your pennies for a Walter Klassen back-mount vest, but that is another story!!

Will

PS- oh yes and the lateral support straps that cross diagonally down from the shoulder blade area to the opposite back hip pad. See pics of Ultra and PRO vest for these. In the same way the lifting belt minimizes the work done by the back by supporting the muscle group, these straps also take strain off the lower back muscles by adding lateral support or rather limiting lateral movement.
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#4 LeighWanstead

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 01:14 PM

Dear Will,

Excellent tip :)

Would you please post some picture regarding to the a lifting belt? They say one picture worth thousands of words. :D

Thanks

Regards
Leigh
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#5 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 02:10 PM

Will,

Hey, how are you? Are you back in the city yet? I'll call you later.

Well written article. Can anyone think of a reason why they shouldn't use a back support belt? I honestly can't recall, but I've somehow had it in my head for years that it was generally regarded as not a good idea. Maybe I'm just thinking of comfort and Will seems to have addressed that. It is amazing how we become set in our ways and forget about about the most obvious solutions.

Mostly writing about the "Jumper straps" Will refers to in his P.S. These are so critical, I'm shocked they were removed from standard CP front mount vests after the model 1 and not returned until the Ultra. They work so well that I never bothered with the increased lumbar support that Will mentions (although this makes a ton of sense too; why not have the best of both worlds). Anyway, I'm able to tell instantly if one of these cross "jumper" straps is not buckled. They attach the lower pad to the upper, spreading the force and generally make your life a happier place.

Now, I too, have ordered Walter's vest, but I did it as preventative maintenance - thought it high time to abuse different muscles.
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#6 charlesneufeld

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 02:59 PM

Hey Will,

Great post! I would have never thought about a lifting belt.... :blink: out I go to get one and give it a spin...

@Leigh - I believe this is what Will is talking about. Am I correct Will??

http://www.officezon...s/xtend2001.jpg


Thanks! :rolleyes:

~C
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#7 LeighWanstead

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 03:08 PM

Hey Will,

Great post! I would have never thought about a lifting belt....  :blink:  out I go to get one and give it a spin...

@Leigh - I believe this is what Will is talking about.  Am I correct Will??

http://www.officezon...s/xtend2001.jpg


Thanks!  :rolleyes:

~C

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Charles,

Thanks for the picture.

I saw one in Mitro10 serveral months ago and it cost NZ$100 IIRC. I thought that it mightbe useless at the time. I will check that one again to see.

Regards
Leigh
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#8 WillArnot

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 07:57 AM

Yes Charles,

Thanks for that. It is exactly the one I was talking about. And sorry for the wordy explanation there. I am currently out of town and don't have my FM vest and belt with me to take pics.
Thanks again for looking that up Charles, you guys should check it out. And yes NZ$100 sounds right. I think the one with the ribs in the back of it was more like US$60

Best

Will
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#9 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 11:47 AM

"Can anyone think of a reason why they shouldn't use a back support belt? I honestly can't recall, but I've somehow had it in my head for years that it was generally regarded as not a good idea".

hi guys,

Id just add a little footnote to this in that my physio(s) have told me its not a good idea to always wear a back support . I used to wear a support similar to the one Will described all the time and initially it seemed to help but i was subsequently told that i should try and wear it less frequently otherwise my back muscles would become too dependant on it and wouldnt grow/strengthen. So i began using it only at the end of a long days operatng when i could feel my back tiring. Now ive switched to a klassen vest and my back loves me again.
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#10 LeighWanstead

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 04:38 PM

"Can anyone think of a reason why they shouldn't use a back support belt?  I honestly can't recall, but I've somehow had it in my head for years that it was generally regarded as not a good idea".

hi guys,

Id just add a little footnote to this in that my physio(s) have told me its not a good idea to always wear a back support . I used to wear a support similar to the one Will described all the time and initially it seemed to help but i was subsequently told that i should try and wear it less frequently otherwise my back muscles would become too dependant on it and wouldnt grow/strengthen. So i began using it only at the end of a long days operatng when i could feel my back tiring. Now ive switched to a klassen vest and my back loves me again.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Stephen,

It seems quite confusing here. Does that mean if using a back mount vest, there is no need to buy a NZ$100 back support? Am I right?

TIA
Leigh
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#11 charlesneufeld

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 09:24 PM

@Stephen - Great point, as it will let your back muscles get use to the extra support, and not develop as well...geez :P I guess if I wanted my legs to develop more I could run to and from the supermarket loaded up with groceries everytime...HAHAHA...nahhh I'll use the car ;) I love technological advances to much.


@Leigh - I believe that if you have a back mounted vest (I still have a FM, correct me guys) it essentaily already has this back support. Where as the FM vests do not, and that some people may find it benificial to add a back support to a FM vest.

~C
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#12 thomas-english

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 09:46 PM

with my 3a vest (no mods) i swore by wearing a "golds gym" weight lifting belt... not the leather one. It doesnt sound as good as will arnots belt (which ill promptly try now). i thought it was brilliant (as above)

With my klassen, i tried it out, but now find the vest fits much better without, the inflatable parts snug up better without. so i have nt been using it at all. Im interested to try wills low profile back protector with the klassen.

My initial thinking behind the support was; Mainly for saftety, a hard rotating fall with a lot of circular momentum could really twist your back. these back supports i suspect would help a lot in these higher torsion events, when your muscles are no longer able to protect your spine, being at the end of their stretch or be simply surprised....
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#13 WillArnot

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 06:25 PM

Thanks for the safety point Thomas. This was my initial motivation for wearing one as I pointed out with the story about the slipped disc. If one can slip a disc without wearing anything, think of the potential wrenching force if you slip or fall with 70 lbs strapped to your torso.

Stephen, always good to hear from you. Your comment reminded me of a conversation I had with Larry McConkey concerning Pilates and body conditioning. He told me how he started working with a personal trainer. Had the guy try the rig on and the whole thing. So when they got to the first session Larry's like, "what kind of back exercises are we going to do?" The trainers answer was "None". His logic being that anyone doing what we do already has a back of steel. The key is to strengthen the opposing muscles ie. the abs etc. and work on flexibility.

Have any of your Physio guys tried the rig on? Do they know what the body endures even after 4 straight minutes? Point is your back is getting worked harder than any kind of workout conceivable, even if you are only flying 20lbs, and regardless of a back support. I view the belt just as much a protective measure, as aiding to endurance.

This would follow on to Leigh's query. The FM vest actually leaves quite a large area of your lower back unsupported. The main structure is in front, over the shoulders and around the hips. This was precisely why I chose to enlarge and reinforce the Lumbar support, and don the belt. The combination had tremendous effect on my operating.

Leigh, the reason why a belt in not as necessary on a BM vest is b/c it is almost totally opposite in structure and fit. A BM vest is built along your spine, supporting your entire lower back region(look at the pics on Walter's site) especially due to the air bladder that custom molds to the shape of your lower back (genius). This has so many benefits. The chest and shoulders are now free to breathe easily and move intuitively, while the lower back is firmly supported from all angles. The hip flexors to Glutes and top of thigh area are much less inhibited or prone to fatigue since more of the load is designed to sit on top of the hips rather than wrap around them like on the FM.

OK must stop this recent case of finger diarrhea. Sorry chaps.

Will
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#14 LeighWanstead

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 09:14 PM

This would follow on to Leigh's query.  The FM vest actually leaves quite a large area of your lower back unsupported.  The main structure is in front, over the shoulders and around the hips.  This was precisely why I chose to enlarge and reinforce the Lumbar support, and don the belt.  The combination had tremendous effect on my operating.

Leigh, the reason why a belt in not as necessary on a BM vest is b/c it is almost totally opposite in structure and fit.  A BM vest is built along your spine, supporting your entire lower back region(look at the pics on Walter's site) especially due to the air bladder that custom molds to the shape of your lower back (genius).  This has so many benefits.  The chest and shoulders are now free to breathe easily and move intuitively, while the lower back is firmly supported from all angles.  The hip flexors to Glutes and top of thigh area are much less inhibited or prone to fatigue since more of the load is designed to sit on top of the hips rather than wrap around them like on the FM.

OK must stop this recent case of finger diarrhea.  Sorry chaps.

Will

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi Will,

Thank you very much for clarifying the question.

Regard
Leigh
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#15 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 04 February 2005 - 05:29 AM

  I view the belt just as much a protective measure, as aiding to endurance.


OK must stop this recent case of finger diarrhea.  Sorry chaps.

Will

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Will,

Thats a good point. I hadnt actually considered the positive effects a belt would have in case of a fall, i was only thinking what effect it had on endurance. Are you still using it with your Klassen vest?
Please dont apologise for your itchy finger problem: those little digits have always provided great advice for the rest of us. Whatever you're feeding them keep it up:)
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