When your entire working day is spent leaning over clients, back pain becomes the bane of your existence. Luckily, there’s a few simple tricks for nixing it that don’t involve quitting your job.
If you’re a beauty therapist who’s been in the gig for more than a year or two, chances are you’ve already developed a serious complex that you’re slowly morphing into the Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Whether you’re waxing a bikini line, doing a facial or giving a client a massage, the vast majority of your job is spent leaning over others, so unless you’ve got a background in weightlifting, you’re probably doing your back serious damage.
Thankfully, there are some simple daily tricks you can use to nix the back-breaking pain of hunching over clients all day and save your lumbar muscles in the process.
1. Think like an athlete
While you might be lifting body oils and spray tanning guns instead of weights, the sheer amount of physical labour involved in working in a salon means all your muscles are engaged, all day long. So it’s important to prep your body in the same way an athlete would before an event. Warm up your muscles by walking to work where possible and practice back relieving stretches throughout the day. For a simple stretch that will bring relief to tired back muscles in between appointments, simply lie on the treatment bed and hug your knees to your chest for a couple of minutes.
2. Move it
Whenever you’ve got a spare moment, try a back-relieving trick that’s known as dynamic movement. You don’t need a lot of space to do it, and it’ll help free up tight lumbar muscles. Standing at the end of your treatment bed with your hands braced in front of you on the bed for balance, simply alternate bending your knees and kicking your feet up behind you, trying — without going beyond your natural range of motion — to touch your heel to your bum, which will help strengthen your lower back muscles and improve circulation; important for avoiding tight muscles.
3. Strengthen your muscles
Taking up core and back muscle strengthening activities like yoga and pilates will make a world of difference when it comes to easing back pain by actually helping your body to build up muscle where its most needed and conditioning you with the basics of good posture.
4. Organise your treatment room
While there’s not much you can do when it comes to reducing the need to lean over clients for the majority of the day, you can definitely avoid reaching over and around other things like benches and equipment, which will only serve to worsen back pain throughout the day. Instead, look at rearranging your treatment room so everything is in a place where you’re not forced to twist around or lean over things to get to it.
5. Take regular breaks
If you can’t negotiate regular five or 10 minutes breaks with your boss, use the time alone in your treatment room in between appointments to give your body and your back a rest by pressing your back against a hard wall to elongate your spine, and slowly bringing one knee in to your chest and holding it there for a deep breath in, then releasing it for a deep breath out before repeating with the other knee, which will help release your lower back.
6. Put your best foot forward
Back pain often begins with your feet. Wearing the wrong shoes for a day of standing is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for a world of aching. While most people assume flat shoes are best for standing all day, most podiatrists actually recommend your heel should be slightly elevated, ideally by about 1/4 inch, to take the strain off of your lower back.
If your salon allows it, look at investing in some quality sneakers designed especially for standing work, and inquire about additional arch support insoles, which you can pick up at places like Athletes Foot. You may look like a dag between 9-5, but your back will thank you for it come Saturday night when it’s time to celebrate.