Hair, beauty, and barbering, professionals often spend long hours on their feet, performing precise and repetitive tasks. This can take a toll on the body, leading to posture-related issues and injuries. Good posture is essential for your health and also enhances your professional performance and client experience. Here's why maintaining proper posture is crucial and some tips to help you stay healthy and pain-free.

Why Good Posture Matters

Maintaining good posture helps prevent musculoskeletal injuries and chronic pain. When you stand or sit correctly, your body is in a natural alignment, reducing the strain on muscles, joints, and ligaments.

Good posture allows you to move more efficiently and perform tasks with greater ease. This is particularly important in the hair and beauty industry, where precision and control are key.

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are alarmingly prevalent among hair and beauty workers. These disorders, stemming from poor posture and repetitive motions, affect a significant proportion of professionals, leading to discomfort, pain, and even forced career changes due to the severity of the conditions. 

Caroline Larissey, NHBF CEO, changed career paths due to back pains from the demands of the industry, she says: "I've been working as a hairdresser and beauty therapist for over 20 years since I was 16. I really enjoyed my work and took pride in helping my clients look and feel great. However, the long hours standing and leaning over clients took a toll on my back, especially since I'm 5ft 11!

“In my mid-20s, I started having severe lower back pain that would spread down my legs. This was probably because of years of bending, twisting, and carrying heavy equipment without using the right body movements. Even after trying different treatments like physical therapy and chiropractic care, my back pain just got worse.

“I realised that I couldn't keep working full-time as a hands-on hairdresser and therapist. The physical demands of the job were making my condition worse.

With a heavy heart, I decided to cut back on my hours at the salon. But I still love the industry, so I looked for teaching opportunities at a local college.”

Simple exercises and tips for people who work in the hair and beauty industry. They can help you prevent muscle tension and discomfort.

  • Move your head from side to side to relieve neck tension.
  • Roll your shoulders forward and back to release tension.
  • Stretch your upper back by interlocking your fingers behind your back and lifting your arms.
  • Stretch your lower back by gently leaning backwards while standing.
  • Stretch your wrists and forearms by extending one arm out with the palm facing down and gently pulling the fingers back toward you.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise your toes to improve circulation.
  • Do bodyweight squats to strengthen your leg muscles and improve posture and balance.
  • Hold a plank position to engage and strengthen your core muscles.
  • Perform seated stretches like spinal twists and forward folds if you spend a lot of time sitting.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises to promote relaxation and improve oxygen flow.
  • Use ergonomic tools and adjustable workstations to fit your body size and the specific service you’re performing.
  • Practice proper body mechanics and positioning when working on clients to avoid excessive bending, twisting, reaching, or holding static postures for prolonged periods.
  • Take frequent breaks to stretch, change positions, and allow your muscles to recover.
  • Incorporate stretching and light exercises into your routine to maintain flexibility, strength, and overall body conditioning.
  • Wear supportive footwear and consider using anti-fatigue mats to reduce the strain on your feet, legs, and back from prolonged standing.
  • Educate yourself and your colleagues on good posture, ergonomics, and injury prevention strategies.

For further resources on maintaining good posture and preventing workplace injuries, consult with a GP, a physical therapist, or a certified sport or exercise trainer. Your well-being is crucial to your success and longevity in the industry.