From repetitive motion injuries to lower back pain to aching feet, one of the most challenging things about being a hairstylist is the toll it can take on your body. Les Haverty, artistic director for FHI Heat, is a fitness buff and health nut who travels to more than 70 educational events a year to train hairstylists, and he always makes a point to include suggestions on how they can feel their best. Here are some of his tried-and-true tips.
- STRETCH REGULARLY Stretching boosts blood flow, which increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscles and helps produce what Haverty calls the "feel good factor."
- PACK A LUNCH Going too long without food can make you sluggish and irritable and lead to overeating later. "Keep some prepared food in the dispensary or lounge so that you can pick at it when you get a few seconds," says Haverty. "Remember, it's better to eat a little every couple of hours rather than mowing through 3,000 calories in five minutes."
- KEEP MOVING Since standing behind the chair for 10 hours can be grueling, Haverty suggests walking around as much as possible. "Greet your clients at the door, then walk them to the front desk after the service," he says. Shock-absorbing shoes with plenty of arch support are another must, as is an anti-fatigue mat.
- WATCH YOUR FORM "Bending from the lower back causes stress on the lower lumbar and can increase your risk for spinal problems later on, which can shorten your career," says Haverty, who suggests bending from the knees instead when shampooing or doing a haircut. And always make sure you raise the styling chair to the proper height each time a new client sits down. —C.W.