Posted by: Admin | January 7, 2012

Shouldering Responsibility for Myself

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but for the past 6 months I have had a problem with my right arm and shoulder. If you also follow my photography blog, you might have noticed that I haven’t been posting as many images as usual. I didn’t stop working, but I did slow down in an attempt to give it chance to heal. Unfortunately, it gradually got worse and worse until, in the end, I couldn’t get through a photoshoot without a pre-emptive dose of painkillers.

image © Kate Hopewell-Smith

I thought I’d injured my arm whilst second-shooting a wedding n the summer – as I wasn’t the primary photographer, I ended up using a heavy, long lens (like the one in the photo, left) for 10 hours straight. It turns out that I have a frozen shoulder – the pain in my arm is a referred pain, so all that massaging the physio did was no more useful than mopping up the water left by a leaky tap.

Apparently, the average lifecycle of a frozen shoulder is 18 months – 6 months “freezing” (the excruciatingly painful bit) 6 months “frozen” (immobility but less pain) and 6 months “defrosting”. It seems that I am just moving into the central phase. Which brings me to today’s thankfulness record:



Osteopathy can’t cure a frozen shoulder, but hopefully it will speed the process. On the table yesterday, Helen worked on all the muscles that have locked in my back and shoulders and manipulated my arm. She also eased the stiffness in my right hip that has been triggered by the way I’ve been holding my shoulder.

24 hours later and my arm will move just a little bit more. The pain doesn’t wake me up as often since I started treatment, and when I’ve aggravated it (such as when playing Twister with my grandson on Boxing Day!) Helen has been there to put me back on track.

The thought of not working fills me with horror, but there’s always a way round these things if you look. I’ve bought a longer camera strap to support the weight of my camera and a wheelie camera bag to act as a second pair of hands. On bigger jobs, where normally I work alone, I’ve taken an assistant with me.  Fortunately for me, the worst phase has been during a quiet period of an on-location photographer’s year. Thanks to Helen, I am moving inexorably back to full fitness in time for the Spring.

Finally, I’m thankful for the lesson this frozen shoulder has taught me – I need to pay close attention both to my posture and the way I deal with stress and emotion. As soon as I can raise my arm above my head regular stretching will become a non-negotiable part of my daily routine! Look after yourselves! x



  1. Bless you Jo, I can really sympathise after having tennis elbow for some years, culminating in a blood injection of my own platelet rich juice re injected into the affected arm, after most of the summer off it is eventually lots better and the camera will be duly dusted down for action asap!!
    Good to hear that your treatment is a step in the right direction, it’s so frustrating when you can’t “just do” ….and sometimes you do just do many things without thinking and it flipping well hurts!!
    A wheelie camera bag sounds like a great idea….note taken on that one.
    Wishing you well Jo, take it easy!
    Kim xxx

    • That sounds horrific, Kim! I wish you a speedy recovery too. Tip – If you buy a wheelie camera bag, look at Calumet’s own make for a reasonable price.

  2. Dear Jo, sorry to hear about your frozen shoulder! I totally sympathise as I regularly suffer of back and shoulder pain. I have been using I can’t live without my wheelie bag, it’s my best friend, I can’t put anything on my shoulders… Wishing you well soon! xxx

    • What a bunch of crocks we photographers become, Cristina! Though you’d never know from your sunny smile!

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