Hairdressers suffer a huge amount of work related injuries. A recent study showed 71% of hairdressers reported pain currently. Nearly every part of the body is put at risk of injury from this job.
Standing on a hard concrete floor for long periods puts undue stress through your feet, knees, and back. Lower body problems run from achy joints to varicose veins. To counteract this use a rubber anti-fatigue mat to add some needed cushion and when able sit for breaks. Saddle chair stools are a good way to do this as well. These chairs will decrease stress to your legs and back while still allowing you to move nimbly. You are more balanced and it is easier to stand frequently from a saddle seat compared to a standard stool. While standing vary your position. Most of us favor one leg and bear the majority of the weight through one side. This is risky for your body. Using supportive shoes also helps. These should lace up, have non-slip soles, and provide some cushion. If you are having feet problems talk to your health care provider about whether custom orthotics or off the shelf insoles would help.
Bending over to shampoo is a typical cause of low back pain. Spread your feet apart and bend at the knees while keeping your back straight. Another option is to put one foot forward of the other shoulder width apart and bend at the hips and knees, again keeping the back straight. The closer you stand to the client the less you have to bend over. The best solution is to eliminate the bending over altogether. The Adjust-a-Sink allows you to adjust the sink to a better height for you and your client. (If you tell them you saw it on ErgonomicsSimplified.com they will even give you $100 off the price!) If there is a shampoo person in the salon utilize them to help as well.
When cutting hair be sure to adjust the chair height so you are not bending over. Keeping your arms elevated in front of you for long periods creates problems in the neck, arms, and back. Your body is not designed to maintain these static postures for long periods. The resulting muscle strain, knots in the muscles, and pinched nerves cause pain, numbness, tingling, and heaviness in the arms. Keep your elbows close to your sides as much as possible. Stretch your neck, arms, and back between clients. Keeping yourself limber and strong is a necessity. Establish and maintain a regular stretching and strengthening program. Print out our stretching sheet to learn some basic stretches.
Be more aware of your body positions. Use the mirror to watch yourself and see unnecessary neck bending forward or to the sides. Keep your ears over your shoulders. Look with your eyes not your neck.
Tendonitis of the thumb or forearm muscles is common. One way to deal with this is to use proper scissors. Keep the blades sharp to minimize the force needed, while this may seem a small detail consider the millions of cuts you make! Trying to keep the wrists relatively straight and avoid awkward positions that bend your wrists up or down excessively is the most important consideration. Swivel-thumb scissors allow you to minimize awkward strenuous positioning of the wrist and thumb. Also, become aware of the tension in your forearms. Work with the arms as relaxed as possible.
Work related stress and working over 15 years have been shown to be related to increased injuries. So the longer you work the more important proper ergonomics becomes. If you are new to the field it is important to address these risk factors preventatively before you get injured!