Top Tips – neck and shoulder problems in hairdressers

Neck and Shoulder Pain in Hairdressers

Hairdressers get much more neck and shoulder pain and problems in their forearms and wrists than average.  Standing up for long periods, holding your arms up in the air while doing intricate repetitive movements can cause aches and pains. In fact, over half of hairdressers get neck and shoulder pain and nearly 2/3 get back pain. If you’re a hairdresser what can you do about it?

Typically, neck and shoulder pain in hairdressers is caused by muscle tension and locking of the joints of the spine. This may lead to Cervical Facet Joint Syndrome. Here the joints of the neck becomes stiff and inflamed and can lead to nerve irritation. Some nerves coming out of the neck go down the arms to control the muscles in the wrist and hand. Problems in the neck can cause muscle weakness, pins and needles and pain.

The muscles of the shoulders and arms are not designed to contract for long periods. Instead, they’re much better at short periods of intense activity followed by a break. Holding your arms up with the muscles tensed, decreases the blood flow and may lead to tissue damage. It is thought that this is one potential mechanism for repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Top tips for preventing neck, shoulder and arm pain

  1. Get to work early. If you arrive in a rush, puffed out from running up the street, your muscles will be tense before you even start work. If you’re calm and relaxed, your muscles will be too. Also, you will have time to do Tip 2.
  2. Do a few simple stretches before you start work. Go here to download our free sheet – Exercises for Hairdressers.
  3. Take a mini break every few minutes. Every few minutes. Let your hands drop your sides and shake loose to relax the muscles.
  4. In between clients do a couple of the stretching exercises again and massage your neck, shoulder and forearm muscles.
  5. Perch on a high stool when you can. This eases the pressure on your lower back and feet.
  6. Avoid raising your arms up so high by lowering the clients chair or standing on a platform.
  7. Keep your wrists straight. If your wrists are held at odd angles you are straining your forearm muscles.
  8. Breathe deeply. This improves the oxygen supply to your muscles and helps keep them relaxed. If you’re tense and breathing shallowly your muscles are more likely to go into spasm.
  9. Don’t smoke. People who smoke get more aches and pains in their muscles and joints. If you drink, take it easy. Some of the chemicals in alcoholic drinks increase inflammation.
  10. At the end of the work day do the simple stretches again.

If you’re still getting aches and pains come and see us at Sundial. Our chiropractors, physio’s and massage therapists can help you.



Neck and Shoulder Pain in Hairdressers, Brighton

Self-reported work-related symptoms in hairdressers. L. Bradshaw, J. Harris-Roberts, J. Bowen, S. Rahman and D. Fishwick. Occup Med (Lond) (2011) 61 (5):328-334.


9 thoughts on “Top Tips – neck and shoulder problems in hairdressers

  1. Hi I’ve been a hairdresser for 14 years and I’ve recently slowed down and just do a view people as I’ve had a baby well he 19 months now but I’ve noticed I keep getting cramps in my legs a lot which can bring me to tears plus all the pains you have mentioned above why are these pains happening ?? Please help Gemma xx

    1. Hi Gemma, neck and shoulder problems can come from spinal problems such as stiff joints and tight muscles. Leg cramps are due to other reasons such as low magnesium levels. You could get these tested and if deficient take a supplement under direction of suitably qualified practitioner.

  2. i am a mobile hairdresser i was in a car accident and have had a scan which results with frozen shoulder how long for recovery need to give my clients a rough recovery time

    1. Hi Carla,
      It is difficult to predict recovery rates as the severity of injury varies so much. Sometimes people recover in a few days with a minor problem but more serious problems can take many months. Your local chiropractor should be able to give you a clearer picture after examining you.

  3. Great blog! Yes hairdressers sacrifice their bodies everyday they stand and work on their clients! They absolutely need weekly massages! I know Many hairdressers over the years that complain if how much pain they have! Their necks and shoulders are very tight! Headaches ALOT! Lower back issues and more!

  4. I’ve been a hairdresser for 24 years. After months of abdominal pain and all scans and blood work and X-rays all coming back normal I finally saw a sports medicine Dr that is treating me for abdominal repetitive strain injury. I’m receiving injections for the pain to relax the muscles and just began physical therapy and have learned this probably originated from my back. I have back, abdominal, neck, hip and leg pain. Hairdressing certainly takes a toll!

    1. Hi Rachel, I am glad you got it sorted out. If it recurs then you might like to consider seeing a chiropractor.MB

  5. Hi my name is Brooke, I’ve been hairdressing over 14 years the last few years I’ve had trouble with my left shoulder. I’ve spent so much money on treatment but nothing works. The past year I’ve been getting tension type headaches and my sore muscles. Has anyone else experience this and what did you do.

    1. Hi Brooke,
      Sorry to hear about your aches and pains. Have you tried a chiropractor? I can recommend someone in nearby or you can go the British Chiropractic Association website for UK chiro’s.

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