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Hold Everything!

Rosanne Ullman | July 10, 2011 | 10:12 AM

"I've never heard of a barber with carpal tunnel syndrome," says Randy Stephens, a former Georgia salon owner and platform artist who now splits his time between styling hair and conducting education for Farouk Systems. "Barbers stand up straight and know how to hold shears. If I can do one thing to help young hairdressers, it would be to teach them how to use tools. It's real simple, but often they're just not taught the right way."

loosen your grip

According to Stephens, stylists tend to hold a blowdryer as if it's a pistol. "They bend their wrist," he says. Instead, Stephen recommends forgetting the grip altogether.

"If you're not gripping, your forearm won't tighten up," he instructs. "Relax your hand and let the tool do the work." Stephens likens the motion to golfing. "In golf," he explains, "You grip the club with three fingers and use the other fingers just for stability. You shouldn't grip a club tightly."

Even when they start the service correctly, stylists often compromise their wrist position as the blowdry continues. "If you need to redirect the dryer, don't change your wrist," Stephens cautions.

sharpen your shears grasp

Most hairdressers open and close the shears using both the finger and thumb, Stephens laments, whereas barbers wisely move only the thumb. "Never pump your fingers, and you'll see that the tendons on your hand don't move," he explains.

This is where posture comes in. Says Stephens, "You have to stand straight in order to move your hand properly." Or you can give up standing altogether. "I sit on a saddle-like chair," Stephens reveals. "The seat rolls, and the chair moves. That's helped my neck and back and legs."

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