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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2000-02-23

Healthy Work Habits for Sports Photographers
By Sam Mircovich

GET A LEG UP ON YOUR JOB

Last night I started working on this article, and fell asleep 20 minutes into it. No not out of boredom. I amuse myself constantly. Rather it was after a long day of walking the hills and valleys of Riviera Country Club covering the Nissan Open (which thus far HAS been dull). Golf and football are two of the more physically demanding sports we have to cover. A professional golfer may walk 5 miles over the 18 holes he plays. We walk triple the distance as the leads constantly change. We hurry to catch up with the players that have the hot clubs, And then there's the hike back to media center so we can catch that FREE MEAL and transmit some pictures before heading out to do it again.

No wonder sleep comes so easily afterward. It doesn't matter if I'm doing squats at the gym, or walking the links with 30 pounds of gear, when my legs are tired I just want to sleep. If I'm not seen for a couple of days, that's where I am.

Aside form the hiking; we are constantly crouching down to avoid the nasty comments of the gallery. You know, the whiny "I've been sitting here all day!" (The response is "I've been walking all day, carrying all this equipment ya WINDBAG!) Then there is the emergency duck-walk when a caddie just before a crucial putt blocks us. This putts stress on the knees and ankles, and the constant rising from a kneeling or crouch stresses the muscles and ligaments of the leg.

In football, aside from the TV guy with the bad attitude, we have to deal with the constant kneeling, causing lower back pain. We run down the sidelines at the end of the quarter, avoiding the cable, amateurs with snappy cams and rich people who take up precious space. Why do we put up with all this crap? For that elusive moment that will crystallize the game for our audience. Sure the average guy thinks our job is a cakewalk. Every time I've brought friends to a game, or tournament, they come away sore and with a better appreciation for our jobs.

Last time I covered the joints of the legs, and a lot of those exercises apply to the muscles as well-look up the last article on Brad Mangin's site at http://www.manginphotography.com/sptshtr.html

HOW TO HAVE SHAPLIER, LOVELIER LEGS AND FILL OUT THOSE SHORTS.

I always laugh to myself when I see a photographer with big baggy shorts and skinny chicken legs. Ok that's not very nice, but it makes me wonder how you can do the job on a pair of twigs. Our legs keep us in motion in a business that is constantly changing. Like the camera's we carry, if you don't keep your equipment in good shape it will eventually fail. Let's see if we can get stronger to keep our natural equipment in fine tune.

The leg muscles can be broken down into four groups through in reality each groups is a set of several muscles that criss-cross each other, attaching at various places along the hip, knee and ankle. Basically you have the quadriceps (front of the leg, 7 muscles) the hamstrings (2 sets on back of each upper leg) the calf muscles, and the shin muscles. (3 muscles)

(LEGAL DISCLAIMER: CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY TYPE OF PHYSICAL CONDITIONING. IF YOU HURT YOURSELF IN THE PROCESS-TAKE HANASHIRO TO COURT, NOT ME! I HAVE NOTHING.)

STRUNG UP LIKE A PIG IN A BUTCHER SHOP

Without your hamstrings, as you know, you would not be able to walk. If these muscle were to be cut or damaged, you would be hamstrung (I guess there's some kind of dark butcher reference to pigs here). Stretch this muscle before you strengthen it with these exercises

(WARNING-IF YOU DO THESE WRONG, YOU COULD CAUSE INJURY TO YOUR LOWER BACK)

EASY STRETCH

Lie Down on the floor or your hotel beds--Straighten both legs and relax, then pull left leg toward your chest. Keep the back of your head down if possible, but don't strain. Hold an easy stretch for 30 second. Repeat, pulling right leg toward chest.

90 DEGREE STRETCH

From a seated position, straighten the right leg and rest the sole of the left foot next to the inside of the straightened leg. Lean slightly forward from hips and stretch hamstrings of right leg. Find an easy stretch and relax. If you can't touch your toes comfortably, use a towel to help. Hold for 50 seconds. Do not lock your knee. Right quadriceps should be soft and relaxed. Keep foot upright with ankle and toes relaxed.

GROIN STRETCH

Put soles of feet together with your heels a comfortable distance from groin. Now, put hands around feet and slowly pull yourself forward until you feel an easy stretch in the groin. Bend forward from hips and not from shoulders. If possible, keep elbows on outside of lower legs for stability. Hold comfortable stretch for 30-40 seconds.

NOW FOR THE EXERCISES:

LEG CURL

Ok so we don't travel with a set of gym equipment to do these properly. But for a few buck you can buy leg weights that Velcro around your ankles. Lie on your stomach, weight attached, and slowly curl your leg back, squeezing your ass toward the end of the exercise. Slowly lower the leg and repeat with the usual set/rep for your strength level. You can also do these standing, bracing yourself against a wall. Even if you don't use a weight, the repetitive motion will make you stronger, and help relieve chicken-itis.

HAM RAISES

OK flash back to your aerobic class of the 80's the one you took to meet the man or woman of your dreams, only to be beat into a pulp by some energetic, sadistic instructor on speed. She had you get on all four, raise your leg behind you, keeping your heel up, and raises your leg to the sky to the beat of ABBA or perhaps White Lion.

OK you don't have to go that fast, but at a slower pace it's a good exercise to work the hams and buttocks. Why not trim that ass as well? Do three sets each legs, 15-20 reps each till ya feel the burn. Don't work up a frenzy, we don't want to see the sweat dripping off your nose.

LEG RAISE

Just sort of the leg curl, works the lower back as well. Lie on your stomach. Tighten the muscles in one leg and raise it from the floor. Hold your leg up for a count of 10 and return it to the floor. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat five times with each leg.

INSERT SEGUE TO QUADS HERE (oops)

Like the abs and lower back, the hamstrings are only as they're opposite counterpart. . You have to work those quad muscles as well. Though not quad specific, squats (AKA deep knee bends) are a good way to tone em up.

TAKE ME OVER THY BENDED KNEE...

Sick. Ok so rather than doing those joint popping deep knee bends featured on Jack LaLanne, lets concentrate on something a bit more stable. All you need is a wall, a pole or a chair to balance yourself.

WALL SLIDES

Stand with your back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart. Slide down into a crouch with knees bent to about 90 degrees. Count to five and slide back up the wall. Repeat 10 times, up to three sets. Again, it firms that gluteus so your pants don't fall of your hips. (For all those with no butts)

OTHER SQUAT TYPE THINGYS

You can do a half squat just about anywhere. Use rail, a chair, the pole at your favorite strip club (if yak have the nerve and can beat up the bouncer) Use a smooth steady, slow motion. Pay attention to the pops you hear in your joints. It probably means yak didn't warm up properly. If it hurts, STOP! See your doctor.

LEG EXTENSIONS (AGAIN)

You can also sit upright in a chair with legs straight and extended at an angle to the floor. Lift one leg waist high. Slowly return your leg to the floor. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat 10 times with each leg, 3 sets. If you bought legs weights at the Sportmart, put em on for an added treat -MUSCLE BURN! (MAYBE YOU CAN WRITE THEM OFF YOUR TAXES NOW, - ITS WORK RELATED)

FATTEN THAT CALF BEFORE YOU SLAUGHTER IT (real butcher theme today huh)

Rather than say something new I just cut and pasted my words from last time (SORRY BUT I'M LATE WITH THE ARTICLE AND HANASHIRO'S GONNA BE PISSED) BUT IT'S THE SAME EXERCISE "Good for the ankle because it strengthens the calf and shin muscles, which provide support (as well as producing shapelier, lovelier legs, see next month's article). Stand on a staircase, toes at edge, and lower your weight. Feel the stretch in your calves. Then slowly raise them until you are standing on your toes. Do the typical 3 sets, 10 reps. As you get stronger, you can do them one leg at a time. When you get REAL good then you can do them at the gym under weight."

SHIN-Y SHIN-Y KOKO POP

Not much can be done to condition the shin. Runners familiar with the inflammation (shin splints) know that rest is the main way to cure them. The shins are a very difficult area to stretch, so it will never be the cure all for this condition. Shin splints occur in the front of the shinbone. The most common are on the outer part of the shin, however, they can also occur on the inner part. The most common cause of this condition is overuse. Usually, too much too soon is to blame. Just as all other muscles, a full recovery is usually required to reduce the likelihood of this type of injury. If a full recovery doesn't take place, the shin muscles are tight and have a diminished blood flow. When they are then asked to perform, there is very little tolerance before a full-blown contraction and inflammation takes place. SOUNDS GRIM HUH? Not that serious, until you hit the wall after a day of climbing hills at the country club.

That's all for now. Next time lets talk about those chest muscles and how they work with the arms. The maybe I can talk about the good stuff-ADDICTIONS! Take care of your health and love those around you.

(Sam Mircovich is a Reuters contract photographer based in Southern California.)


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