Hairdressers and Body Stress
A recent study in the USA showed that 71% of hairdressers reported some type of body pain, as a result of work related posture and ergonomics. Work related stress and working over 15 years is related to increased injuries.
Key factors were:
- Standing for long periods on hard floors, puts continuous stress on the feet, knees and lower back.
- Favouring one leg in the standing position places the weight distribution through one side of the body and leads to an imbalance in the spine to compensate.
- Bending over clients whilst washing hair or cutting, typically causes lower back pains.
- Keeping arms raised in the cutting position for long periods causes tension in the neck arms and upper back. The muscles of the shoulders and arms are not designed to contract for long periods. Instead, they’re much better at short periods of intense activity followed by a break.
- Stress can develop in the hands, wrists and fingers due to repeated use of scissors and can lead to tendonitis.
What Causes Body Stress?
Mechanical stress may come from; jarring or jerking the neck as in a fall or a whiplash in a car accident; working or reading with the head tilted downwards for lengthy periods reading or on devices, so called “Tech Neck”; twisting the neck as in reversing a car. Correct sleeping posture is also important as we schedule our recommended 8 hours minimum sleep per day! How often can you wake up with a stiff or painful neck.
Emotional stress may come from feelings of intense anger, anxiety or shock, which cause a person to hunch the shoulders and tighten the neck muscles. A state of on-going depression may also bring about postural distortions. In addition, the physical discomfort resulting from the body stress will reinforce the negative emotions and lead to a vicious circle.
Exposure to harmful chemicals may severely irritate the nervous system and cause the neck muscles to tighten, e.g. chemicals which we inhale, such as car fumes and insecticides; substances which we absorb through the skin, such as cleaning materials and certain cosmetics. Some people react adversely to certain foods and to preservatives and colourants.
What is Body Stress Release?
The Practitioner performs a series of pressure tests with the person lying down fully clothed, and the muscular responses indicate the location and direction of body stress. The stress is release using light but definite press in the appropriate direction, unlocking the stored tension. As the nerve communications are restored the body can then start with self-healing.
Structures Most Effected in Hairdressing
The Neck Spinal Structure
In the neck or cervical spine there are seven vertebrae, forming a natural forward curve. The vertebral bodies are joined by the inter-vertebral discs, which have a tough outer rim of cartilage and a jelly-like centre. Ideally the head and neck should remain in an up right position, continuous positioning of the neck and head in non-vertical positions can lead to body stress in the neck shoulders and lower back.
The Shoulder Joint
The upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket on the side of the shoulder blade. As this allows a wide range of movement the shoulder joint is easily subject to body stress. Reaching above the head or to shoulder level, may strain the ligaments and muscles of the shoulder and tension becomes locked into the joint.
In a long-term case of body stress of the shoulder the joint may become “frozen”, i.e. its mobility is severely restricted. In certain of such cases, full movement of the shoulder is restored immediately after the stress is released. In other cases this may occur only after several sessions of BSR. Therefore, to avoid the problem progressing to the stage of immobility, it is advisable to have the shoulder attended to as soon as possible after an injury occurs.
The Elbow, Wrist and Hand
These joints may be stressed by repeated actions such as cutting, as in a fall, by twisting movements, such as using a screwdriver or opening a tight jar, or by vigorous actions such as scrubbing or using woodworking tools.
Tension becomes locked into the elbow joint, between the small wrist bones, or between the hand bones. As a result pain or stiffness will be experienced, and possibly numbness or tingling. There may be weakness of the muscles when attempting to lift or grasp an object.
Referred Pain – Arms
As the nerve supply to the arms and hands originates from the spinal nerves of the neck, it is essential that any body stress in the neck is released. In many instances, pain, stiffness and numbness in the arm or hand is due to compression in the neck and not to body stress in the arm itself.
Tips to avoid work related stress:
- Use a rubber mat to stand on to add some cushioning.
- Use good supportive shoes, non-slip soles with a cushion inside.
- Take regular breaks – sit in a correct posture in between clients. Take a mini break every few minutes and let your hands drop your sides and shake loose to relax the muscles.
- Adjust the clients chair at the correct height for you and assume a posture where the knees are slightly bent, standing as close as possible to the client to avoid bending at the hips. Make the chair lowered to your best cutting height, so your arms are not raised too high.
- While cutting try to keep elbows close to your side, and wrists relatively straight
- Stretch arms, neck and back between clients.
- Observe your posture in the mirror for feedback; ensure you do not bend forwards at the waist too much.
- Maintain sharp scissors to avoid over exertion of fingers to cut.
- At the end of the day do some light stretches again to loosen tightened muscles.
NOTE: Body Stress Release is not a diagnosis or treatment of any condition or disease. It is concerned only with locating and releasing stored tension, so that the body is assisted in its in-built ability to maintain and heal itself.