Many nail techs go home after a long day with aches and pains in their hands, shoulders and back. A tech’s hands are vital for performing the job, yet too many of us often neglect caring for them as we should. Small changes such as better equipment, proper posture and improved ergonomics can help reduce these symptoms and help with career longevity.
Working ergonomically can eliminate muscle strain, benefitting both your physical and psychological health and, with the busy festive season approaching, now is time to make necessary changes.
There are many elements to this, but one main concern is the way we sit. Techs often work with no or incorrect support under the client’s wrist. When working with no support, it can often seem that you’re holding a client’s hand with a gentle and relaxed hold, but the reality is that your wrists and hands are being repeatedly strained.
Over time, the added weight, combined with the repetitive motion, takes a toll on your muscles and joints and can cause long-term problems, such as arthritis, repetitive strain injury, and carpel tunnel syndrome. Some sort of rest should bear the client’s weight. Products on the market, such as The Wrist-Assist maintain a full range of motion for a client, while keeping their wrist supported and the hand limp. This alleviates the need for the tech to support the weight of the entire arm during the service and prevents the customer from ‘fighting’ with the tech for control of their fingers. Correct hand positioning requires education for the client on how to hold their hands.
Sitting straight is also essential, and while it may seem more uncomfortable (especially at first due to the change in working position), it will have long term benefits.
Keep both the client’s hand and work directly in front of you. This means that your client’s arm is directly in front of you, not their body. We automatically sit with our bodies opposite our client, but this means the arm comes to us at an angle, causing the tech to work at an angle, twisting the back and neck.
Do not favour or lean to one side, and do not cross your legs. You should sit with your legs body width apart and firmly on the floor. When sitting, always keep the spine in a neutral position — at a 90-degree angle, not leaning forward or backward.
The head, neck, and body should face forward without twisting or hunching. Move your client’s hand close to your body. Your elbows and shoulders should remain at the same height, rather than leaning the gripping hands elbow on the desk – otherwise this puts your shoulders out of line. Move your client’s hand rather than tilting your head when working on different areas.
We don’t always have time to take regular breaks, but we can change positions frequently, and do not hold any posture or position for long periods. We may be sat behind our desk without moving, but a simple movement such as standing up to greet our client can be beneficial. Neck, hand and wrist exercises or stretches can alleviate stress on joints and we can do these quickly while making a client a beverage, washing hands or even using the bathroom.
One of the biggest causes of tech pain is the need to over-file due to the use of too much product. Introducing an e-file can help alleviate some of the pain and strain you feel. Master your product control so there is only a need to refine the product, whether with a hand or electric nail file. However, if introducing an e-file, it is critical to invest in the right machine. Check out our guide on what to look for here and how to avoid vibrations that will aggravate your hand complaints.
Using a new file on each client will ease muscle strain and save time as this will reduce unnecessary pressure being used to achieve the same result from a file that has been worn down.
Take care of yourself this festive season and use now as the starting point to taking just a few small steps to improving your ergonomics.
Love Katie B x