Ergonomics to the rescue

Do you end your day with a few aches?  Have chronic shoulder pain?  Then you need to be taking care of yourself.

First off, what is ergonomics?

Formally, ergonomics the study of personnel efficiency in work environments.  That’s good for business owners. But these days it’s more commonly used to refer to products and practices that reduce workplace stress and strains.  And that’s good for everybody.

Why is it important to everybody?

In daily life you spend hours on your feet, bending, and making repetitive motions.  Just as carpal tunnel syndrome has been a problem for office workers using computers, hairdressers experience the same problem from cutting and blow drying.  But we’re actually more prone to chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain.  So it’s important to lower your risk of those problems.

Blow dryers are the major culprit for many people, even lightweight ergonomic models with improved grips.  That’s because getting the right angle means awkward hand positions and raising your arm above your head.  Besides being unpleasant those shoulder pains and other aches make you less productive and perhaps tempted to cut corners.  Worse still, they can develop into conditions such as tendinitis and bursitis that require medical treatment and can even force an early retirement.  So it’s also a matter of injury prevention.

If you’re tired of ending the work day with a sore back or aching arms you’re not alone.  Some 70% of stylists report experiencing pains during or after working hours.

Join the 30%

So what can you do to join those who are pain-free?  Here are some simple tips that may help.

  • To maintain a good posture remember “ESHA” — ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles.  They should all be in a straight vertical line as much of the time as possible.
  • Keep your wrists in a neutral position and relaxed as you cut and dry.
  • Use the chair height adjustment so you’re neither bending over nor reaching above.
  • Get quality ergonomic tools — shears, irons, and blow dryers as well as an anti-fatigue floor mat.
  • Use them properly.  That means not gripping them too tightly and keeping your arms close in to your body.

In particular, don’t raise your arms too high when blow drying.  That not only “drains the blood out,” it also strains tendons, ligaments, and muscles.  You may have heard that you should keep your elbows below 60 degrees for long periods of time.  But what does that mean?  It means keeping your elbows about 2/3 between straight down and straight out.

Defeat the Enemy

If your aches and pains have lead you to consider the blow dryer as your enemy, even after trying lightweight and special-grip models, there’s finally a solution.  It’s the Smooth Air T-360.  Invented by hairdresser and salon owner after 40 years of discomforts and sleepless nights, it’s an adjustable nozzle that fits pretty much any blow dryer.  Its patented telescoping 360 degree nozzle swivel makes it quick and easy to adjust to any angle, eliminating stressful and damaging positions.  Imagine a pain-free you, with better service to your clients.