This Little Piggy

November 7, 2011

Aching shoulders, knees, feet and backs are a common complaint amongst barbers. 
We work in an industry in which we are on our feet all day and constantly raising our arms up to work.
During my first week in barber college our German teacher got us all to stand up. She taught us a series of exercises to help loosen our shoulder, arm and wrist muscles and taught us about correct posture while working. At the time most of us did the movements halfheartedly and, dispite her telling us it was one of the best lessons she could teach us, and that it would determine whether we'd be working for the next 10 years or the next 40, I'm sure that we all fell out of practice and rarely did them after that day.
Personally I can only speak for myself and now I'm back in Dublin I do try to do some stretches before and after work. In fact I've started doing Nia classes which has been great for my posture and will be beginning Bikram Yoga this month too. I've been beginning to feel the twinges and really I should have started before this point.
While it's easy enough to pick a class that'll help with our upper half, we often ignore our lower halves and in particular, our feet. I had been wearing these shoes for FAR too long:
When I bought them (many moons ago) they were the most comfortable thing I owned. But, much like growing a millimeter a day, without me noticing they slowly got tighter and tighter and more and more worn down. My pinky toe on my left foot began to get cramped in and turned slightly. It took month and months for this to occur, long after I should have gotten rid of the runners in the first place, and it was only once it began to hurt that I thought I really needed to take action. Being able to stand on my feet comfortably is crucial and yet I kept putting of getting new runners. So after 2 weeks of pain reminding me every day to save my poor soles, I just took the runners and threw them out. I went straight into the city and into a place that a nurse which foot problems had recommended to me. The lady in the shop looked at my feet, measured and pressure them, and explained that my right is a whole size bigger than my left! Not only that but my toes splay out when I walk so the toe-box on most shoes is too narrow for me and thus are cramping my wee little piggy. Then, like some sort of chiropidistic angel, she emerged from the stockroom with a box containing heaven for my feet. Okay, so they are pretty ugly lookin' heaven, but maaaaan, they are comfortable.
I've been wearing these for the last two weeks and already I think my pinky toe has forgiven me enough to be on speaking terms with me again. I no longer feel like I have to rest my feet after work and my posture is a little better too. These shoes came with a hefty price tag but I honestly can't put a price on having foot comfort in my work. I'm learning to listen to my body now so that I can have a long career ahead of me. So tell me; is there anything your body's telling you?
- BE


Clarke said...

Although the muscles in my feet are tight the morning after a full day on a concrete floor, my body really tells me I should have taken better care of my back when I was younger. After badly straining my back several times, rather than seeing a doctor, I "worked through the pain" (as young lads often do). I have to be extra careful these days.

Barber Eile's Blog said...

You have a good point Clarke and something that I'm very aware off. I want to protect my back now so it will serve me over the years. Back and leg problems are very common amongst barbers and hairdressers.

Post a Comment