Jesse Cannone, back-pain expert, personal trainer, author of "The 7-Day Back Pain Cure", publisher of the newsletter "Less Pain, More Life" and creator of the Muscle Balance Therapy is tapping in to his expertise to help guide the salon and spa professional on how to best keep the overworked back in a pain free state. Modern asked him to weigh in on the special concerns of hairedressers, nail artists and estheticians:
1. What is the best way for a hairstylist, who is on his or her feet most of the day, protect the back?
Number one, don't compound the problem of standing on your feet all day by wearing high heels. Flats, including flip flops and sandals, are nearly as bad. Choose a comfortable, low-heeled shoe with arch support.
Standing for lengthy periods can lead to a stiff lower back. The best thing you can do for it is to give your back a 30-second break between clients. Try these two exercises to loosen up those tight back muscles before your next client:
-Sit in a chair and lean forward, letting your arms hang down toward the floor for about 10 seconds for a gentle lower back stretch.
-Stand behind the chair, grab the chair back for support if needed and squat low to the ground for about 10 seconds.
2. What is the best way for nail artist, sitting and leaning forward most of the day, to protect his or her back?
Sitting and leaning forward all day is a sure recipe for back pain. Even though your back aches, in this case your back muscles are overly stretched and weakened from all the leaning. Your truly tight muscles won't be found in your back - they will be found in the front of your legs.
Between clients, take a quick break to stretch out your hip flexors and quadriceps which are tight from holding your body erect in a chair all day.Start with your quads by holding onto a stable chair or counter while standing facing it with feet shoulder width apart. Lift one foot up and back and grab that foot with your hand. Tip your pelvis backward and keep your knee pointing straight down. Hold that for about 5 seconds. Repeat twice on each side.
Next stretch your tight hip flexors by placing one foot on a stair step, stable chair or other elevated surface. The other foot and leg should be straight back. Tip your pelvis backward then lean forward as far as you comfortably can towards your elevated leg. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat on each side twice.
3. What is the best way for a makeup artist or esthetician (who must contort throughout the day) to protect his or her back?
Moving your body in different directions is a good thing. But if you find yourself leaning frequently in one direction more than another, you're a candidate for back pain. Your primary arm will likely drive you to lean in a one direction more than the other, so take time to stretch in the opposite direction between clients.
When working with a client, try to move your entire body around your client rather than leaning around, keeping your spine in alignment from your neck through your hips as much as possible. The stretches and advice mentioned above will often help the makeup artist or esthetician as well.
4. Any suggestions or exercises for a salon professional to keep the back in great shape?
You're busy, but you must take time to protect your back if you want to stay on the job. Your body doesn't want to stagnate in one position so give it a chance to move in a different way from usual throughout the day. Take frequent stretch breaks. If you stand a lot, squat. If you sit a lot, stand up.
The number one cause of chronic back pain is muscle imbalances caused by not using your body in a balanced, symmetrical fashion. The stretches demonstrated above are from our Lose the Back Pain® System, based on common postural dysfunctions that develop from the posture you keep. Using it, you can easily identify what specific muscle imbalances you have. Based on that knowledge, you're then walked through the proper corrective exercises you need to strengthen weak, stretched out muscles and corrective stretches to restore flexibility to overly taut muscles. You can learn more about the Lose the Back Pain® System at www.losethebackpain.com/getstarted.html.