Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: the Bane of all Stylists

Situation in a Hair salon

A stylist’s hands are some of their most valuable assets. Many a stylist have had their careers cut short by carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a condition that can drastically affect their ability to cut and style hair. However, certain practices can delay — or even eliminate — the onset of CTS.

CTS in a Nutshell

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by the constant compression of the hand’s median nerve. Repetitive hand movement — especially at odd or unnatural angles — aggravates the tendons of the wrist and puts pressure on the median nerve. This pressure can cause a painful tingling or numbing sensation on the hand as well as weakness and loss of coordination. CTS is a career-ender, but there are ways to avoid this condition.

Pace Yourself

Cutting and styling hair requires repetitive movements — and those movements are the ones that put you at risk of CTS. As you constantly work for hours, tension builds in your tendons, causing them to swell. Take short breaks. Drop your hair-cutting and styling scissors and do a few stretching exercises for your hand.

Even a short break of five minutes for every couple of hours working is enough to give your tendons time to cool down and relieve a bit of tension and swelling. Take those breaks religiously — use a timer if you must. Those little breaks can extend your styling career by ten years or more.

Practice Proper Positioning

Don’t fold your wrists if you can achieve the same result by changing your position. Unnatural angles put more strain on your wrist as you use your scissors. Use your elbows to get into the right angle and don’t hesitate to move about. Yes, bending your wrists is a lot easier, but it is a bad habit that will certainly increase your risk of developing CTS. Keeping your wrists straight also makes you appear more refined and elegant — and while your client sitting on the chair won’t probably see it, those around you will certainly do.

Use Swivel Scissors

hair cutting essentials

One way to avoid those weird angles when cutting hair is by using swivel scissors. They may need a little bit of getting used to — but they’ll boost your efficiency once you do. They’re a lot more comfortable to hold, but they still give you that control over your scissors. Swivel scissors allow you to change the angle of your scissors without bending your wrists — this minimizes the strain on your wrists and increases your efficiency. If you are left-handed, a set of left-handed scissors might do you good. Your dominant hand has more strength and flexibility, and you can take advantage of that with the right scissors.

CTS is no laughing matter. The symptoms are painful and debilitating and can certainly end your styling career. Avoid those bent wrists and make sure to take short breaks. Little changes in your habits are significant steps towards preventing CTS and thereby giving you more years of doing what you love.

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