WOW! Hairdresser Health | It’s Important!

Hairdresser Health | It’s Important!

Are you a hairstylist who feels overworked, sore, tired and burned out? Please know, you’re not alone. Too many of us don’t take care of ourselves in this industry. So, let’s talk about hairdresser health and why it’s important.

Today’s a normal Wednesday, in that I am off work.  On Tuesday, I work.  Well, that didn’t go down yesterday. Instead, I went down with excruciating neck, shoulder and clavicle muscle pain.  Then, I went down to my doctor’s office and loaded up on steroids and anti-inflammatories…two shots and three prescriptions, to be exact.  Then I got down in the bed and watched Criminal Minds all day.  I would call that a ‘down’ day.

We’ve All Been There…

If you do hair for a living, then you know the predicament I am in.  First of all, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.  I’m self employed, so I have no paid vacation days, sick days, personal days, or ‘my back is in the crapper’ days.  I just go to work.  I work when it hurts, I work when it feels better, and I work in between.  It’s what I have to do.  So, when I can’t go to work, I am not a happy girl.  My clients count on me to be there, and if I’m not there, then I’m behind for days.

I’ll go back and give a little history:  I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine; mine looks like a “C”).  It’s not a severe curvature, but enough of one that my muscles get all out of whack sometimes.  I’ve had various pulled or strained muscles over the years, and I have visited the doctor on occasion for the double-injection, 3-prescription visit, but that’s not helping me get well.  It’s only a band-aid to let the muscles rest and go back where they belong.  My symptoms have gotten considerably worse over the past several months, and I got really tired of having severe back pain (can be lower, can be upper, sometimes it’s my hips) and having to work through it.  It gets old.  So, I decided to seek the advice of someone who can possibly help me recover, at least a good bit, from my scoliosis without surgery or narcotics (two things I want to avoid).

My new RN/Licensed Massage Therapist has trained extensively in helping people feel better, stand up straighter, and even helping folks recover from things like scoliosis.  She uses very targeted massage therapy combined with at-home stretching and lots of water drinking, like half my body weight in ounces, daily.  I’ve only had two sessions, and I left both of them feeling amazing.

Then, I deal with this excruciating pain all day yesterday.  I’m trying not to get discouraged, or think that my new treatment is not working.  I don’t want to give up yet, either.  I believe that the hard work she has done on me, combined with the hard work I’ve done myself (do you know how much water that is to drink for a big ‘ol girl like me?), will eventually give me the relief I need to NEVER go back for the double-injection, 3-prescription visit again!  I think that would be amazing!  I’ve stretched more in the past week and a half than I ever have, and I do believe that makes me feel better.  Drinking all this water has to be good for me, and I’m actually getting to the point that nothing else is good to drink (except coffee, of course).

hairdressing is physical labor

Folks, hairdressing is not an easy job.  Yes, it’s a fun and rewarding job, but it is not easy.  Standing on your feet all day, every day, can create problems with your body that you do not want.  I would especially love for the young to listen here:  if you want to make hairdressing your lifelong career, then you must take care of yourself along the way.  Wearing 4-inch stilettos or flat, shapeless shoes to work in a salon will catch up with you one day.  Chugging sugary sodas and not eating right because you’re on a time crunch will catch up with you one day.  Scheduling three foil highlights back-to-back on a Friday, after working hard all week including prom the Saturday before, will catch up with you one day (it caught me yesterday).

More importantly, not wearing gloves while applying chemicals, or using good safety practices in general when it comes to chemicals, will catch up with you one day.

What Can You Do?

So, if you do hair, and you love what you do, like me, then BE HEALTHY!  Schedule a few breaks throughout your day to stretch, drink some water, and get some fresh air.  Take care of yourself outside the salon, as well.  Get some exercise each week, and stay hydrated.  And, I have a little list of healthy work habits, some of which I’ve just learned on my own, some were told to me by my new RN/LMT:

1.  Don’t stand with all of your weight on the same leg all of the time.

A rare occasion when I'm standing correctly, but OFF MY MAT!

A rare occasion when I’m standing correctly, and wearing good shoes, but OFF MY MAT! (see #3)

Figure out any repetitive movements or stances you have, and try to change it up.  I have a tendency to pop my left fist on my hip while I’m waiting for my curling iron to work, but didn’t even know it until Tigger was pretend-curling Madre’s hair one day and kept doing it.  I kind of giggled about, and she looked at me and said, “That’s what you do, Mama, is that not right?”  The next day at work, I kept catching myself throwing that fisted-up hand on my hip!  Kids tell all.

2.  Don’t wear unsupportive shoes.  I used to love to wear my big ol’ wedges and cute little light-as-a-feather flats to work, but I found out that was only hurting me in the long run.  I can’t make it through a whole day in less-than-comfy shoes anymore, so I don’t try.  I need to heed this advice, and find myself some supportive-but-not-ugly sandals….ANY SUGGESTIONS?

3.  DO invest in a standing mat.floormat  I don’t care how much money you’re trying to save for your parasailing excursion at the beach this summer, BUY  A MAT!!!  They’re not that expensive, and Sally’s has some great ones.  Shuh-wanda and I saw one at the hair show that went all the way around the chair, and I already regret not buying it.  If I find that again, it is MINE!

4.  DO stretch every morning when you wake up, every night before lying down, and a few times in between.  Keep your muscles loose and limber, and you could possibly avoid some seriously irritating muscle pain.

5.  DO HYDRATE.  It’s important for so many things:  circulation, flushing out toxins, hydrating your muscles and joints, helping dry skin, and maintaining a healthy weight, among other things.  I’m totally awful about it, myself, but I’ve done very well over the past two weeks.

Here are a couple of other decent articles I found on hairdresser health, in case this one just doesn’t seem official enough.

Hair Dressers.  Why They Don’t Wear Heels…

5 Hair Stylist Health Issues

From one foolish hairstylist to another, please take care of yourself! This line of work is fun, rewarding, and creative, so we love it.  We CAN do hair and stay healthy, too!  Although,  I’m going back to the salon tomorrow, come heck or high water.  I’ve got weekend plans (paying all the monthly bills), and those take money!  Hopefully, I won’t do any further damage, but one day is more than enough to miss work in my profession…the hair must go on!

Oh…and I kinda messed up on Monday.  The winner of the “it’s a 10” products from this post will not be announced until Friday, because you still have until midnight tonight to play!  All you have to do is follow my blog via e-mail and comment on that post (not this post, but the one titled “WOW: Prom Hair, 2015 Edition…Plus, a GIVEAWAY!”), which should be easy since I have now provided two links to that same post in this one paragraph!

Until next time, folks, eat right, drink plenty of water, and take care of yourself!  I am definitely going to try my hardest!

X,O,X,O,  Martie