As a sports medicine and orthopedic specialist, I work with a lot of athletes. Because I live and work in Los Angeles, I also work with a lot of people who have jobs in the entertainment industry. Though these two populations wouldn’t seem to be very similar at first glance, there are some interesting similarities I’ve noticed. Athletes usually have a seasonal training schedule, with pre-, during-, and post-season training routines. People who work in entertainment also tend to work in seasons; TV shows shoot for a number of weeks, then go on hiatus for a couple months before starting back up again. In “the industry,” people often work 10-15 hour days, sometimes working late into the night and even coming in the following morning. While athletes know that training is important to be able to perform at their sports, I find a lot of entertainment people don’t really “train” for their long work hours other than take time off to rest and recuperate from the job stress.
The Stress of Working Long Hours
Whether they’re in front of the camera or behind it, doing production or post-production, entertainment industry workers often have to stay at task for long, grueling hours, which can impact both their health and relationships. There are a number of challenges this presents, of course: simply the fact that they’re working such long hours is stressful in and of itself, and having such a large chunk of the day taken up by work doesn’t allow much time for proper exercise (or much else), and can also get in the way of getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. For people struggling with chronic pain or other health problems, the challenges are even greater.
I had one patient the other day who was struggling with a recurrence of chronic pain. Fortunately for him, he was off season, but is going back to work in under a month when his show resumes production. In the context of treating this person, I’m looking at being part of his pre-season preparation to help him get over this pain enough so that when he starts work again, he will be able to do the same 12-15 hour days he needs to do in order to perform his job. When his work schedule does start back up again, he won’t have a lot of time to get treatment.
Do What You Can to Maintain Health
For those industry workers who are in production, it can be difficult to get a proper meal, as the “craft service” food that’s on set is often junk food that’s able to sit out for 10 hours at a time such as donuts, chips, and candy. Those in the industry who want to maintain good health try to take care of themselves as best they can not only in between seasons, but during the production season as well. I have some regular patients who, even though they don’t have the time for regular treatments, are able to take Chinese herbs to help with their issues; for those who don’t have any serious problems, herbs can help them sleep better as well as optimize the immune and digestive systems, which are the real keys to good and lasting health.
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Jorga Houy, LAc