40 Years of Doing Hair and the Importance of Self-Care for a Long, Pain-Free Career

Carlos Valenzuela

 It was the end of a busy week. I cut and styled my last three client’s shoulder length hair full and bouncy. It wasn’t unusual to feel tired on a Saturday night; I went home and called it a night. I woke up at two in the morning with a stabbing pain on my backside. I took the Aleve route and said to myself, this too shall pass, but it didn’t. After two days of being unable to sit, stand, or walk, my doc said, “Go to emergency.”

After eleven hours of testing, exams and morphine, a doctor came to my side and asked, “What do you do for a living?” “I am a hairdresser.”

You have a serious muscle spasm from repetitive motion and standing in place. You also have damage to your right shoulder, arm, hand and fingers. You might want to look for something else to do.” I immediately felt a lump in my throat. After forty-four years, I thought about my clients and salon team members. If I closed my eyes images of me teaching seminars and visiting beauty schools popped up.  Yes, I know I am seventy-two, but I am not ready to give this all up. Just a couple more years, please.

 Two days later, I hobbled into my primary care doctor’s office who said, “Don’t stop hairdressing yet. It is unhealthier to give up your passion than to do it on a limited basis. Hairdressing is your lifeline. Why don’t you do one day a week for a few hours?” I jumped out of my chair with joy. My salon owner was totally accommodating.

 During the ordeal, I kept thinking of how I must warn all cosmetologists of the need for self care. Yes, you may round brush with the best of them, but you must compensate for that repetitive motion. Here is what I learned:

  1.  Do not stand in place for more than thirty minutes without walking around. Especially if you are carrying a few extra pounds.
  2. Try stretching In between clients. Simply touch your toes, do side bends, buy a rubber ball and squeeze it.
  3. Most effective is a disciplined strength building and stretching routine. We all really need to hit the gym three times a week.
  4. Drink a ton of water during your work hours. Eat healthy.
  5. Get massages and bodywork. You deserve it.

 I am back in business with major lifestyle changes including physical therapy, and most of all, a new understanding of my stage of life. Life communicates with us through experiences. Sometimes our determination and ego is too strong to listen. I beg you to prioritize your health to better help others. Your best creativity comes from strength, endurance and vitality. 

Go join a gym today.

Carlos Valenzuela has forty-plus years experience in the beauty education industry as an international consultant, trainer, author and entrepreneur. He holds a Masters in International Management, and originally trained in London, and Chicago with Pivot Point International. Carlos’s  educational program, iFabulous Salon Success guides new salon professionals to attaining successful careers in the salon industry.


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