The Crew Series

Theatre crew! You also have pain, are on the show schedule and probably have a second, third, or fourth job keeping you going, I hear you! After a year in house on the schedule and treating all the departments this blog series is aimed at giving each department some targeted exercises for common sources of symptoms derived from your role in the theatre.

First up, Wardrobe!

Shoulder and neck

Lifting costumes on hangers, carrying laundry baskets, attaching that awkward headpiece on every night gets tiring and can lead to some neck and shoulder fatigue. Try these exercises to alleviate your pain – do them during scenes at work (but don’t miss your preset and cues!) as they’re easy to do anywhere and don’t require any equipment or set up

Neck stretch “sniff the pit”

  1. Point your nose towards your armpit crease
  2. Hand you are looking towards rests on top of your head
  3. 30 sec holds Pec stretch
  4.  Pop your forearm on a doorframe
  5. Same leg as arm steps through
  6. Body twists away
  7. 30 sec holds, aim for 4 different arm heights – 1x with shoulder at 90 degrees, 1x below, 2x above

Hands and forearms
Those fiddly little zips, clasps, buttons, pins can make the outside of your wrists hands and thumbs sore, try some of the exercises below.

Heat pack
– sandwich your hand in a heat pack to relax the muscles then give these exercises a go

Spikey ball – relax your hand over the ball, on a desk press down for your palm under your hand and pinkie

  1. Place ball on a table, remain standing if possible
  2. Lean on the ball to massage on your palm in the hand and pinkie, you are aiming for the thenar and hypothenar muscles

Hand stretch

This one is mainly for your thumb

  1. Place hand on table, flatten palm entirely
  2. Splay your fingers and slide hand forward, letting your thumb drag back
  3. 15 sec holds

Last piece of advice is think of your posture when doing maintenance – find a supportive chair if possible (wheeled swivel stools with backs exist!) and if your light source is a little lamp pop some books under it to bring it higher to encourage sitting taller.

Wigs, Hair, & Make up

Having your arms up with elbows in for prolonged periods of time can encourage your upper traps to be a bit over active and your shoulders to creep up, leading to neck and shoulder tension and pain.

For the neck/top of shoulders tension try the following

Shoulder rolls

  1. Roll shoulders forwards x7
  2. Roll shoulders backwards x7
  3. Opposite directions x7, swap

Neck stretch – sniff the pit

  1. Point your nose towards your armpit crease
  2. Hand you are looking towards rests on top of your head
  3. 30 sec holds

Pec stretch

This one’s important as from the nature of your work your shoulders will likely be rolled forward a bit

  1. Pop your forearm on a doorframe
  2. Same leg as arm steps through
  3. Body twists away
  4. 30 sec holds, aim for 4 different arm heights – 1x with shoulder at 90 degrees, 1x below, 2x above

Holding equipment with fingers curled around can lead to tight forearms as well – try this stretch if you feel your grip is a bit weak

  1. Start with palms flat against the wall
  2. Slide arms down to stretch the underside of your forearms
  3. 15 sec holds

Alternatively you can do the stretch against a table



I mainly treated backs due to stiffness and having to sit in the same position whether it was at the desk, on the floor or in the dome. Try these exercises, even at interval, to help you get through the show.

If you are a follow spot you want to ensure your feet are supported, shoulders are relaxed and down (as much as possible) and not up near your ears.

Mid and lower back mobility is important as well as it will assist with sitting in prolonged rotation.

So throw in some…

Book openings

  1. Start lying on your side, hands together and hips stacked
  2. Open your arms like a book – hips remain stacked throughout movement, head and neck can follow moving hand
  3. Close your arms


  1. Lie on your side hips and knees stacked
  2. Pull arm back – think of touching other arm’s elbow then shoulder
  3. Head and neck can rotate
  4. Follow same path with hand to return to original start position

Cat cow

  1. On hands and knees arch your back up – tucking your pelvis under
  2. Work through to lower through your back
  3. Repeat x10



All the above exercises are applicable to you as well, however with pushing and pulling set pieces you should have a safe stance – if possible get directly behind/infront and use a lunge and legs to move things rather than just using arms and back!

At Performance Medicine we understand that without the backstage production crew the show simply doesn’t happen! 

So we need to keep you all fit and safe! 

If you have a niggle you have been ignoring come and see us now before it becomes a real issue!