Every haircutter hopes for a long, healthy, and productive career. No one plans on getting hurt or becoming sidelined with an injury. Carpal tunnel issues plague the haircut game. Many a great haircutter is now a bartender or a retail clerk because they can no longer do the job due to the pain of a crippling injury. You can get out in front of these challenges with my top five tips for preventing carpal tunnel injury. I have cut for 30 years and have zero challenges. Lucky or pro-active? Maybe a bit of both.
1.) Warm up – Use dynamic stretching exercises to get warm and get loose every day before you start haircutting. Dynamic stretching is an activity in motion that mirrors the activity about to be done with effort. A great example of a dynamic warm-up stretch for haircutters would be to hold up your hand and quack your hand like a duck. See how your hand looks like it is haircutting? That is an example of a dynamic stretch for haircutting. Rolling your hand in wrist circles is another great pre-work dynamic warm-up stretch.
2.) Stay loose – Pause throughout your work day for static stretching exercises to stay loose and flexible while working. When muscles and joints are warm from activity traditional static stretching is ideal. Stretch your wrist open and hold it in place for seven seconds. Repeat in a closed position. Do three sets this way three times per day. Never perform static stretches when muscles are cold or have been inactive.
3.) Use better tools – Poor scissor fit can be a primary source of pain and challenges for hair cutters. Have scissors professionally fitted. You will not walk far in ill-fitting shoes. Same idea here. Better tools are not necessarily more expensive tools. Proper hand position in using combs and brushes falls in the category as well.
4.) Keep shears sharp – Dull scissors are dangerous. Dull scissors need to be forced through hair. Additional pressure is additional wear and tear on the haircutter. Sharp scissors require less effort. Sharpen good tools two to three times per year based on how much hair you cut and how much dry hair you cut. Dry hair eats up blade edges faster. Better scissors and better steels stay sharper longer. Cheap shears are a bad choice for many reasons. Your health and wellness being one of the biggest.
5.) Mix up your tools – Toss some razor cutting and clipper cutting into your haircut mix. Try a swivel-thumb shear. Change up what you ask your body to do to break the repetitive motion cycle that leads to injury. Scissor-over-comb can be traded for clipper-over comb. Point cutting can be swapped for razor layering. A talented craftsperson has mastery of all of their tools.
Ivan is a 30-year haircutting veteran with a barber license, a cosmetology license and three Guinness World haircutting records. Ivan is also a certified personal fitness trainer specializing in working with beauty industry professionals on issues of health, wellness and long-term durability behind the chair. For more information and to get your copy of Ivan’s book Be A $100,000 Haircutter visit ivanzoot.com