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.
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”
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
This one is mainly for your thumb
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.
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.
Neck stretch – sniff the pit
This one’s important as from the nature of your work your shoulders will likely be rolled forward a bit
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
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.
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!