Preventing Wrist Pain In Hairdressers

April 11, 2023

The most seasoned of hairdressers will tell you that while you have chosen a fun, exciting and rewarding career, it is not without its problems. The most common complaint amongst most hairdressers is wrist and hand pain. We want you to have a long, happy and pain free career, which is what has brought you here today! Let us help you prevent pain and continue to do the job you love so much!

What Causes Wrist Pain

Before we can understand how to prevent long term pain lets learn about what causes wrist pain. 

Everyday of a hairdresser's working life we are using our scissors. This means that we are constantly opening and closing our scissors, using our thumb, wrist and hand. Imagine you're lifting a weight, all day, everyday the exact same way, eventually the muscles you are using will tire, and if you're not careful, they will become injured. Same goes for our scissors. The repetitive motion of opening and closing our hand can cause overuse injuries.

Wrist pain and other arm and hand pain can also be caused by improper use of our tools. If your scissors are being held in the correct position, or if you are using dull scissors that cause you to work harder, unnecessary stress is being put on your wrist and causing inflamed wrist tendons. Putting this kind of stress on your hands and wrist for long periods of time can cause serious injury.

Different Types of Wrist Injuries and Pain

The most common known problem amongst hairdressers and barbers is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by inflamed tendons putting pressure on the wrist and nerves. The wrist is made up of a narrow tunnel called the Carpal Tunnel. This tunnel has many little bones and tendons and the median nerve. The median nerve runs from our hand to our elbow, through the carpal tunnel. It gives feeling and movement to our thumb, forefinger, middle finger and part of our ring finger. When tendons become inflamed they put pressure on this nerve. Those with advanced carpal tunnel syndrome may find they lose dexterity in their fingers or have numbness particularly the fingertips but can be anywhere from their wrist to elbow. Warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome starts with hand pain, finger pain and even strange numbness.

There are other repetitive strain injuries besides carpal tunnel, that are common amongst hairdressers and barbers. Repetitive strain injury or RSI is a common term used to describe any pain or injury that comes from overuse and repetitive motions. This includes injuries such as wrist tendonitis. Wrist tendonitis means there is swelling of the tendons in the wrist that connect the bone to tissue. This can cause inflammation and pain. 

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injury RSI and other wrist pain

If you take the proper precautions from early on in your career you can hopefully avoid wrist pain and other problems. This is where our expertise comes into play ! It all starts with your scissors.

By now you have seen our website and you have heard the word ergonomics. The dictionary describes ergonomics as the study of people's efficiency in the workplace. So when we talk about ergonomic tools or ergonomic scissors we are talking about tools and scissors that are designed to make your workplace better and more efficient! So scissor ergonomics are a big deal in preventing pain.

You will notice that the most common handle on scissors is the offset handle. This handle has come to take over as the normal handle, versus a classic handle. The classic handle has two finger holes placed directly above each other and was meant to be used with the middle finger and thumb. However, the offset handle is meant to be used with your ring finger and thumb. The offset helps to move the thumb forward a little to reduce stress on the thumb and also the median nerve. By having the thumb in its most natural position we are helping to prevent repetitive strain injury from un- natural repetitive movements.

With the study of scissor ergonomics really taking over came the invention of the Crane handle. This crane design will not only help our wrist and hands but also helps to correct bad posture with our elbows and shoulders. The crane handle is designed not only to keep the thumb in a neutral position but it also forces you to drop your elbow down besides your body. This removes any pressure on the shoulder and elbow. 

But wait ! There's still more! Swivel shears! These scissors were created to make cutting hair as easy and pain free as possible. The thumb ring is offset and then designed to move 180 degrees. This guarantees that your arm and hands are always in their most comfortable and natural position.

There are a few other things you can do to help prevent injury, or prevent it from getting worse. You can always take anti inflammatory agents to help relieve any pain or inflammation you may have after a long hard day. Another great addition to your life would be a massage therapist that knows how to help with carpal tunnel, RSI or wrist tendonitis. And don't forget a healthy diet. Eating foods that are rich in nutrients will help keep those bones and muscles strong and healthy! And of course, if the pain continues, seek medical attention.

Your most valuable tool....

as a hair stylist is not your scissors, its your body! It is important to always take proper measures to protect it like you do your scissors and other tools. Here's to a long, pain free career behind the chair !

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