When I think of things that are bad for my health, a box of blueberry Pop-Tarts or one too many frozen margaritas instantly come to mind. But apparently sugary indulgent treats are nothing compared to the horrors your body can go through when you're a hairdresser. But how exactly is being a hairdresser bad for your health? Well, the job is definitely not as tame as you might think, that's for sure.
Last Wednesday, Hitesh Patel, a massage therapist from the UK, shared a photo of one of his clients on Facebook. She's a hairdresser, and apparently, her job is way more demanding than simply making your hair look fabulous AF and calling it a day.
TBH, at first glance, the photo of this woman's back makes it look like she brutally lost in a bad boxing match, or like she's spent literally her entire life standing straight up with a backpack full of textbooks and boulders.
But the marks in this photo are not bruises; Patel told Metro.co.uk that when hairdressers are hunched over working on their clients' hair for hours, their muscles develop in an unnatural alignment and start holding their skeletal system in a totally off-center way.
The marks are called petechia, and they indicate exactly where the damage has been done from hours of washing, cutting, and drying.
This photo breaks my heart so much that it honestly makes me want to call up Oprah or Ellen and tell them to send every hairdresser in the world free deep-tissue massages for life. (If you guys are reading this, HMU.)
Apparently, even if the damage doesn't get as bad as this woman's case of petechia, according to Sundial Clinics, more than half of hairdressers experience pain in their neck and shoulders, and about two-thirds report back pain, as well. When people who work at hair salons keep their muscles contracted for so long while simply doing their jobs, their joints can actually lock, and that's what leads to the intense neck and shoulder pain reported by so many. What starts as mildly annoying knots and irritating tension can lead to more serious issues such as cervical facet joint syndrome, which is when neck joints become inflamed and begin to irritate the surrounding nerves.
Honestly, when I go into a salon for a trim, I never really think about how long hairdressers actually have to contract the muscles of their arms and shoulders, or even how long they've been on their feet that day. But when you really take a moment to think about it, their job is basically a whole workout in and of itself.
The muscles in your arms and shoulders are made for casual, everyday activity, or short, intense activity (such as HIIT workouts and weightlifting). But TBH, the hairdresser lifestyle is essentially an eight-hour weightlifting session, and their shoulders, arms, and neck take a major toll because of this.
This constant contraction that hairdressers are required to do on the job can also cause decreased blood flow, which can result in injuries, long-term muscle weakness, and tissue damage.
However, this definitely doesn't mean that hairdressers should give up their dreams and quit their jobs, stat. There are lots of ways to remedy the taxing effects the job has on your body.
For example, according to HealthDay, investing in a side chair — aka small seats with no arms that you can adjust to fit your height — can be a huge lifesaver for hair dressers' long, uncomfortable hours when they need to take a breather between clients. Side chairs specifically help to alleviate that pain we talked about in the shoulders and back, and even tired feet.
There are also a few stretches that'll feel absolutely amazing for hairdressers who are hunched over their clients' heads all day long.
To relieve upper-body tension, try clasping your hands behind your back, and open your chest while stretching your shoulders. Keep in mind, you can totally do this stretch while sitting down with your arms clasped behind a chair, so you can give your legs and feet a break, too! #Winning.
There's also the seated spinal twist, which is a yoga pose that will work wonders for the alignment of your back and spine. Even if you can't find a moment between clients to stop, drop, and take a breather with this movement, be sure to implement it after-hours.
Remember, too, that simply sitting in a chair, leaning forward, and releasing the tension in your neck to allow your head to rest between your knees will help rejuvenate and loosen up your tight muscles. Allow all the tension to melt away while taking deep, expansive breaths.
Applaud your body for all that it does, and always make self-care a priority. And if you have a favorite hairdresser, remember to thank him or her for all their hard work the next time they help you touch up your locks.