Prevent Muscle Strain and Enhance Career Longevity

Maggie Mulhern | May 13, 2019 | 9:06 AM
GOOD - Back hand to palm.
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GOOD - high elevation over hand.
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BAD - Too far past knuckle.
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BAD - high elevation palm out.
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GOOD - held in fingers properly.
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BAD - vertical sections fingers down.
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GOOD: Vertical Section - finger up.
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"The first thing to 'go' on a haircutter is the wrist," says Andrew Carruthers, Education Director, Sam Villa.

It's true. Repetitive use injuries represent some of the most common problems in the haircutting world. They can be career killers. Carruthers and the team from the Sam Villa brand are always looking for ways to take stress off of a stylist’s hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders by identifying different - and better - cutting positions.

Here Carruthers offers some general guidelines for success:

Cutting “In-Hand” (Hand holding the section with palm facing toward body):

  • Most ergonomic when cutting at lower elevation and when working with one length or graduated cutting lines.
  • For the cutting hand, working palm-to-palm (both palms facing each other) or backhand-to-palm (back of cutting hand is facing palm of holding hand) will depend on the exact elevation and section angle. Play with both positions to find a way that keeps the wrists natural, elbows low, and shoulders relaxed.

*** This also depends on point cutting versus blunt cutting

  • Fingers up or fingers down? Depends on the section angle, elevation, and cutting line/finger angle. In diagonal and horizontal sections, as long as finger angle is mirroring the section, it will be pretty obvious. In a vertical section, keep fingers up towards the ceiling to keep the elbow low and shoulder relaxed.

Cutting “Outside-Hand” (Hand holding the section has palm towards the head):

  • Most ergonomic when cutting at higher elevations and when working with more layered cutting lines.
  • For the cutting hand, the principle is the same as mentioned above. At times it will be more natural for the cutting hand to have the palm in and at times it will be better to have the palm out. Try both positions to discover what works best.
  • Fingers up or down? Depends greatly on exact elevation and finger angle.

Shear Placement

  • One of the best ways to create better ergonomics with the cutting hand is to discover how to cut in many different positions without bending the wrist into awkward angles or hiking up the elbow and shoulder.
  • First, hold the finger ring of the shear closer to the first knuckle of the ring finger with the thumb only slightly inserted into the thumb ring. This will feel slightly out of control at first if used to having the shear slide down further, but it will allow for a much wider range of motion.
  • Next, practice opening and closing the shear with light pressure forward (towards the pivot of the shear) from the thumb. This prevents the need for the thumb to be “stuck” in the finger ring.
  • Now, try allowing the shear tip to point in different directions whiles opening and closing without moving the wrist.

Need a visual? Check out this video and learn from Carruthers on how-to control your scissors so that you have a long lasting career:

  • Not finding the range of motion with a solid-thumb shear? A swivel shear is designed specifically to give the widest range of motion while keeping the body in a more natural cutting position. See many of these options in this video: 

“There are many ways that you can approach the hair to achieve similar results," explains Carruthers. "Choose the hand and body position that keeps you in a healthy and natural position to avoid repetitive use injuries, aches, and pains. Plus, you look more relaxed and in control which inspires confidence from your salon guests.” 


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