How to Maintain Groomer Wellbeing
Back and Leg Support
Dog groomers will typically spend a large amount of time on their feet throughout the working day. It is therefore important to consider investing in equipment that supports your back and legs, as these are the body parts that will typically feel the strain when standing for long periods.
Lumber support is a useful investment for the professional dog groomer. A good lumbar belt provides support to core muscles when standing for long periods, as well as supporting the body under heavy strain such as lifting. It should do this without restricting movement. A lumbar support belt can also relieve back pain and prevent a build-up of muscle tension.
Anti-fatigue floor mats are also a worthwhile investment. Standing still for long periods can become very uncomfortable, especially for your legs, back, shoulders and feet. Hard, non-carpeted salon floors can further exacerbate the problem. Anti-fatigue mats absorb some of the impact and pressure placed on your body when standing for long periods. They can also help to improve circulation, and boost performance and efficiency by making you feel better. Place an anti-fatigue floor mat alongside the bath, table, and anywhere else you stand regularly.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
Carpel tunnel is a relatively common syndrome that can cause pain, numbness, burning or tingling in the hands and fingers. Carpel tunnel is effectively caused by a build-up of fluid and pressure inside the hand. Anything from repetitive work (such as dog grooming) to injuries or family history can exacerbate the discomfort. The problems caused by carpel tunnel syndrome can be light, moderate or severe, and can affect people both long and short term.
Carpel tunnel syndrome can be managed, especially if it is caused by repetitive strain. If you are concerned about carpel tunnel, or are suffering from wrist pain that is related to your work, it is important to visit the doctor for diagnoses. To help however, you may find it worthwhile to invest in a wrist support. Good quality wrist straps offer support and compression for weak and over-stressed wrists.
There are also preventative measures all professional groomers can take to aid wrist health. Do not let your hands adjust to uncomfortable tools. This is bad for your hands in the long run. If a tool is not right for you, change it. The comfort of your hands should be the most important thing you look for in your tools, even over efficiency and/or appearance. It is also important to vary your grip, and the type of tools you use through the day. Try not to use the same tool for hours at a time.
Other Areas of Professional Health and Wellbeing to Consider
- Hand protection. Working with chemicals, pesticides, sanitisers and detergents all day can affect the skin on your hands, making it irritated and cracked. Try Bee ProtX, a hand cream which features an intense water and chemical resistant formula to protect hands and heal cracks. The cream has a rich texture, and lasts for at least two – three hand washes.
- Exposure to zoonomic parasites and disease. While it is relatively unlikely to pick up major diseases through dog grooming, professional groomers are exposed to fleas, mange, staph infections and ringworm amongst various other health concerns. It is therefore vital that you use high quality sterilising equipment at the end of each day, as well as after any problem dogs. You should also consider carrying some hand sanitiser on your person at all times, as well as additional protection such as a mask and gloves.
- Emotional strain. Working in a noisy, busy environment, perhaps with difficult dogs and unrealistic clients can cause emotional stresses and strains. It is important to remember that mind and body are connected, and that stress management is also health management. Give yourself a little time each day to regroup emotionally, and especially after stressful situations.
Additional information in this blog was sourced from Barbara Bird’s talk “Groomer Survival – How Long Will You Last?“ at the Festival of Grooming 2012.