How to prevent back pain as a hairdresser or beautician
Working in the hair and beauty industry is incredibly rewarding… but it can take its toll on your body. According to a study, standing for just 25 minutes could lead to a lifetime of back pain.
To mark this month’s BackCare Awareness Week, we chatted to chartered physiotherapist Lyndsay Hirst who runs Your Pilates, offering online pilates courses. She says, “My physiotherapy practice is next door to a hairdressers and beauticians and I get a lot of staff coming in with back pain. It’s mainly caused by being in static positions for long periods of time - our bodies simply aren’t designed for that.”
Try these tips and techniques for back pain prevention and improving your posture...
1. Do stretching exercises
Back pain is different for hairdressers and beauticians thanks to the different positions you spend most of the day in. Lyndsay says, “Hairdressers are stood up all day while a beautician and nail technician might be sat down in the same position for long periods of time. Being in these static positions means your muscles start to tighten up in certain postures. Without regularly moving them and stretching them, you will end up with back pain no matter how fit and strong you are.”
Stretching exercises for hairdresser back pain
Standing up for most of the day means your back is likely to tighten into an extended position, leading to soreness. “You’d benefit from retraction based stretches”, says Lyndsay. “Sit down on a chair and reach down to touch your toes so your back starts to lengthen again. Or try a roll down - drop your chin down to your chest and just gradually roll down to the floor.”
“Make it a priority that you’re moving in different directions throughout the day. This means you won’t stiffen up from being in static positions.”
Stretching exercises for nail technician back pain
From manicures to nail art, as a nail tech you’re likely to be sitting down for much of the day, and this causes its own problems for your back. Lyndsay adds, “If you sit down a lot, you tend to adopt more of a flexed posture. You’d benefit from an extension based regime of stretching. Try the Cobra stretch where you lie on your tummy and arch backwards so you’re pushing your spinal segments into extension.”
2. Change the height of your chair or table
As a beautician, you’ll be spending much of the day standing over clients on your therapy table. Try changing the height of the table to better suit your own height and posture. Do the same if you’re a hairdresser by either raising your hairdressing chair or lowering it and sitting on an ergonomic stool while you’re cutting your client’s hair.
This is just as important if you’re a mobile hair and beauty therapist and having to wash your customer’s hair over their bath or sink. “The sink in your client’s home is not ergonomically set up for your height, stature and posture which will cause issues for your back”, says Lyndsay. Make sure you take regular breaks and set up your portable massage table to best suit your height.
3. Try breathing exercises
A key way to help relieve back pain is through breathing techniques. “I advise patients to try a lateral breathing technique: take a deep breath into the base of the lungs while expanding the rib cage out to the sides. Because your ribs are connected to your spine, this loosens the rib cage off. You’ve also got a muscle that attaches below your rib cage down to your pelvis. Just by doing those breathing exercises you’ll lengthen and mobilise those muscles as well.”
Try this breathing technique from Lyndsay: “Imagine you have a cake in front of you with 100 candles. Take a big enough breath in to blow those candles out. When you do this you activate your core muscles which is an added benefit. Do this four or five times to get the relaxation element of breathing and the mobilisation of the rib cage and the muscles. I’d suggest doing it a couple of times a day.”
4. Take up pilates
Strengthening your core muscles can help with back pain. Lyndsay says, “Pilates trains your posture and muscles. If you’re a hairdresser or beautician with these static postures, you’re likely to develop muscle imbalances. Hairdressers tend to be tight in the hamstrings for example and weak in their glutes. Pilates irons out those muscle imbalances.”
5. Be mindful of your body
You might be back to back with appointments, but it’s vital you spend time thinking about yourself and how your body is feeling. “Make it a priority that you’re moving in different directions throughout the day”, advises Lyndsay. “This means you won’t stiffen up or seize up from being in static positions.”
Check out these equipment lines
Check out these height adjustable equipment lines which we recommend for the best comfort in your salon.
If you are a freelancer consider rollercoaster luggage to easily transport your products and tools.
- Extra wide split saddle seat for supreme comfort
- Lockable tilt function for perfect angle
- Designed to reduce pressure on the spine
- Rollercoaster hair-free wheels
- Gas-lift height adjustment
- 3 sections with 360-degree rotation
- Adjustable backrest
- Ergonomic design
- Thick padded mattress
- Removable armrests & cushion to reveal face hole
- 3-in-1 stool, suitcase & service table
- Anti-hair wheels allow silent movement
- Store tools in suitcase
- Use service table for colouring material