There’s no debating it: Being a stylist is hard work. It can take an undeniable toll on the body and cut short what could have been a long and prosperous career. Carpal tunnel. Plantar fasciitis. Shoulder issues. The list stretches on, as I’m sure many of you reading this know.
Let’s not dwell on the bad, however. The last thing I want to do is dissuade someone from going full-on in this profession. And let’s face it: Every job has its drawbacks. Why should we be any different?
Start with some obvious facts. As stylists, we are:
- On our feet all day
- Performing repetitive actions
- Probably not taking enough preventative steps.
To help prolong your years behind the chair here are three ways to improve stylist health, reduce pain and prevent injury.
1 | Your feet
You never know how good you had it until your feet start hurting. For a stylist, few things are as crippling as foot pain, particularly plantar fasciitis. Simply put, plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.
One of the keys to treating plantar fasciitis is to prevent it in the first place. No, I’m trying to be cheeky. (In fact, this rule is going to apply across the board. Take note.) Daily care of the feet, especially at night before going to bed, is going to do wonders. Standing barefoot with one foot on a rolling pin or lacrosse ball is a great way to massage the underside of the foot and release tension.
The short video below does a nice job of prescribing some simple exercises AND essential supplements that can help treat and prevent plantar fasciitis. Pay careful attention to his recommendations on footwear. Switching to a minimalist shoes may seem counterintuitive until you consider that a shoe with a lot of cushioning actual weakens the muscles in the foot, leaving them susceptible to injury and pain.
2 | Your hands, wrist, and forearms
One thing to keep in mind – as any physical therapist worth their salt will tell you, the body is a system of interconnected systems. Especially when it comes to your tissues and tendons. You know, the things that tend to hurt?
If your wrist hurts, the problem might not be in the wrist. Or at least only in the wrist. It’s important to be thinking about what’s happening above and below the wrist, that is, in your hands and forearms.
A pair of ergonomic shears will do wonders to relieve wrist pain. I’m not going to get into listing brands and specific products, so do some research and ask around.
Daily stretching and soft tissue work in and around the wrist and forearms is going to help minimize any inflammation caused by overuse.
Here are three simple and effective wrist stretches you can do throughout the day in between clients to keep those wrist and forearms from getting bound up and inflamed.
3 | Your shoulders
If you ever want to test someone’s threshold for pain, have them hold something moderately heavy with their arm extended and above shoulder height. The burn come quick. Stylists who use blow dryers throughout the day know all about that burn. Shoulder pain and impingement is common in this industry, and what’s worse is that we usually favor one hand when holding the dryer, which over time can create imbalances in the body that lead to additional pain and injury.
You know where this is going. Yes, you can and should be caring for your shoulders on a daily basis.
Here’s a great 20-minute shoulder (and neck) yoga flow to incorporate into your nightly or morning routine.
Some final thoughts on stylist health
As industry professionals we’re kidding ourselves if we think our bodies will simply put up with the endless hours of strain and repetition. Daily care essential. As is eating healthy, living healthy, adequate rest, showing up early (to avoid unnecessary stress and tension), exercise, good posture…should I go on? You get the idea.
I also recommend seeing a massage therapist regularly to address the deep tissues of the shoulders, back, neck, etc., and, if you can afford it, a strength trainer to help with those same areas as well as your core, which you’ll want strong to ensure a good posture throughout the day.
Lastly, none of this is intended to be taken as medical advice or a diagnosis of any kind. The above tips and suggestions are based on our decades of experience in the industry. If you have pain or suspect an work-related injury I recommend seeing a medical expert.
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