How hairdressers can reduce their rsi risk

Published 13th Mar 2009 by sophieh
How hairdressers can reduce their rsi risk

Cutting-hair-with-scissors.jpgRepetitive strain injury (RSI) is the bane of many hairdressers' lives, mainly in the form of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) - a painful condition that can be extremely debilitating.

Choosing the right tools is one step towards avoiding CTS, and as the most commonly and consistently employed tools of the trade, scissors must be right for the user.

The carpal tunnel is the passageway formed by the eight bones of the wrist and the transverse carpal ligament which stretches across the roof of the tunnel. Inside the carpal tunnel are tendons which run down the muscles in the forearm and are used to flex fingers and thumbs.

Also running through the tunnel is the median nerve. CTS occurs when the median nerve is squeezed as a result of swollen tendons, leading to numbness, burning or tingling in the thumb and certain fingers and parts of the hand.

There are other causes, but CTS is linked to occupations that involve repetitive movement of the hand and wrist - including cutting hair. While it is not guaranteed to stem the condition, choosing the right scissors is vital - and each individual will require something different.

Brian Russell, managing director of Kasho Scissors, says: "The best scissors really do make a difference - they are the most important hairdressing tool. The price you pay will reflect the quality of the scissors, and the better the quality, the smoother the scissors will cut.

"The smoothness of the scissors plays an important part in how much effort is needed and this effort will increase the strain on fingers, hands and the muscles and ligaments through your arms and neck and even your back and legs.

"If you choose scissors with offset handles you can work with your shoulders straight and elbow down, using minimal wrist movements, meaning far less strain. RSI is a big problem in hairdressing so choosing the right tools is vital."

So what's the best way to recognise a quality pair of scissors, and, more importantly, the best pair of scissors for an individual stylist?

"Generally, you know from the feel of the scissors. If they feel smooth all the way down the blade edges when you close them, that's a good indication that the scissors are precision-made," says Brian.

"Also take a close look at how the edges, corners, tips, handles and both inside and outside blades are finished. Spend time feeling the scissors and ensuring they are comfortable to use."

Top Tips For Avoiding RSI

  • Use sharp scissors - blunt blades require more effort which leads to strain
  • Get scissors sharpened at least once a year
  • Ensure scissors feel comfortable. Off-set scissors tend to offer the most comfort, but everyone is different
  • Ensure scissors have a balanced weight - a blade-heavy pair may put unnecessary stress on the wrist
  • Don't over-tighten any adjustable tension screws. If scissors won't cut without being tightened, they probably need a service.

Source: Dowa International

Find the right scissors for you in the HJi hair directory.



Published 13th Mar 2009

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