Behind the Chair: How to Prevent Injury While Working

by Alexandra Luce

Cosmetology is a physically taxing profession. I watch my students stand for hours on end while working on a client and can often see the signs of muscle fatigue that accompany a new stylist not yet accustomed to the demands of this career. There are lots of little ways to make it through the day comfortably as long as you pay attention to the needs of your body. Here are some tips I’ve accumulated through my years of working on my feet in various jobs.

A good pair of shoes is worth their weight in gold. I always remind students to wear comfortable shoes when we go over the dress code during our first meeting. Inevitably someone will wear an incredible pair of heels to school and, most often, change out of them by lunch. Heels can cause stress and fatigue in your calves and ankles, aside from just making the bottoms of your feet sore, that will lead to aches and pains causing you to hobble toward the flats you stored in your locker. When your feet start to hurt we have the tendency to shift our hips to relieve the pressure in our legs. This causes a chain reaction of stress from your hips, to back, to shoulders, to neck. If you notice your feet are starting to get sore, consider changing shoes right away.

Stretching may seem silly at first, but it is vital to your overall health. I don’t mean stretching so extraordinary as if you are about to go for a jog, but focus in on the muscles that do the most work for you during your day. This will be especially important if you have clients back to back all day. Perform stretches that will utilize your arms/shoulders, back, and legs.

Try to keep your back straight at all times. This will be most important when shampooing or cutting. Lower back pain and strain is likely to hit while leaning over the shampoo bowl. Try spreading your further apart or bending your knees to bring yourself more level with your client to minimize hunching or curving your back. Never forget that your client’s chair is adjustable. While performing your service you can move the chair higher or lower in order to minimize your own bending. If the client has particularly long hair that needs to be cut, you may also ask them to stand while trimming the bottom.

Finally, remember that your hands and wrists do much of the work. Tendonitis may occur in the thumb or arm if you are putting to much strain on the muscles. Make sure that your shears are sharp to lessen the amount of force require to cut the hair. Also, don’t manipulate your wrists or hands into strange positions. Remember the palm to palm techniques you learn in school and that, if something doesn’t feel right, there’s probably a better and easier way to do it.


May 20, 2014

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