Contributed By: Cassi Young-Paxton
Remember when you were just starting out behind the chair and you always wore those hot 4" heels? Yeah…me too. I quickly learned that being on my feet for 10-hour days this wouldn't last long.
Life on your feet while contorting your body to do acrobatic feats behind the chair is tiring. It is also not setting you up for longevity. I reached out to one of my mentors, Janet Peitsmeyer, from the Charles Penzone salon in Colubus, Ohio. Janet was one of the Senior Directors I assisted when I started working there years ago. She has been such a resource for me in many avenues of my life; from everything from advice on teenagers (pick your battles), to being a solid supporter of my career, or dropping the random inspiring article in my mailbox at work. I reached out to her to ask how she has sustained a career behind the chair for nearly 29 years.
"I wish I started with better posture,” said Janet. She advised that things as simple as pumping up your chair (yeah those things move), moving your client’s angle to accommodate you, as well as starting and ending your days with stretching can help with this. Janet recommends "more water than caffeine", and winding down the day with an herbal tea rather than a glass of wine. According to her; you should change up shoes and heel height "never flats everyday or high heels everyday." Pearls of wisdom like this are so helpful and got me thinking about how I deal with my daily routine.
Taking care of your body matters, which is why I
also reached out to a local Yoga instructor to get some advice on easy stretches and moves that you can incorporate in your daily routine. Jillian (Jill) Forster started her career with a degree in dance at Kent State. At a conference she had the opportunity to take a yoga course and fell in love with how it transformed her body and her ability in dance. That love turned into a passion and now a profession for 5 years. I asked her for a simple routine that stylists could implement to support and benefit themselves behind the chair. Taking into consideration some of our biggest trouble spots, here is what she suggests.
For a great morning, give yourself 10 minutes to wake up and bring your body to balance. Jill recommends during these movements to be mindful of your core, as core strength is what supports you throughout the day.
1- Begin with a simple Bridge position: This is something you can do even before climbing out of bed. Start with feet hip-width apart, heels close to the buttocks lifting hips in line with the knees and shoulders. Arms either at side or interlaced behind the back. (Hold for 5-10 breaths, as long as comfort allows)
2- Cat/Cow on all fours: Breath in sway back cow, exhale into rounded back cat position (in and out of each position for 5-10 breaths). Jill says, "Feel free to explore movement going side to side". This stretch is a great for lower back and shoulder issues and loosens up those muscles.
3- Wrist stretch: with arms out in front of you, use opposing hands to work your hands upward and back. Stretching your wrists allows for better flexibility and will help aid in keeping that dreaded pain away.
4- Wide leg shoulder stretch: This movement is great for shoulders, chest, hips, hamstrings, and back. Stand with legs spread, interlace fingers behind your back and bend forward at the hips. Hold position for 5-10 breaths, or as long as comfort allows.
5- Side bend: starting on one side reach hands above head holding wrist opposite and pulling as you stretch to the side. Repeat on opposite side. This is great for shoulders, arms and back. Nice way to fully wake before your busy day.
Winding down in the evening is just as important as starting your day right. Many stylists I know have problems not only with the pain throughout the day, but also shutting down and unwinding. These stretches will support you on both.
1- Neck stretch: sitting in a crossed leg position, place your hand on your head and shoulder; stretch your head to the side (think about separating your ear from your shoulder). Alternating to the opposite side, holding the position 5-10 breaths on each side.
2- Chest and shoulder stretch: in same position as the neck stretch, move your arm up and over your back as though you are patting yourself on the back, and move opposite arm around and up to meet hands in the middle. If you are unable to meet hands, use a towel or belt to modify for comfort.
3- Butterfly: with the souls of the feet touching, knees wide, fold forward as comfort allows, holding position for 5-10 breaths as long as you can do at ease. This is great for your lower back.
4- Forward Bend: similar to the butterfly bending forward, but with legs outstretched in front of you. This is a nice stretch for your lower back and hamstrings.
5- Seated twist: with one leg straight, take the opposite leg and cross it over. Use the opposite elbow to knee and twist, breathing out as you twist, hold position for 5-10 breaths. This stretch is great for back and shoulders and is also good for aiding in digestion, because let's be honest… you had coffee and a Tic-Tac for breakfast and Jimmy Johns for lunch, while mixing color in 5 minutes flat.
6- Single legged pigeon: this one is a little tricky, but it's such a gratifying stretch. With one leg bent, right ankle to left wrist, right knee to right wrist, square your hips and slide left leg back. Hold this for 5-10 breaths and repeat on opposite side. This position is great for supporting posture.
7- Shoulder stand: this position is a great way to restore blood flow back to your major organs. It is also great for reducing swollen feet at the end of a long day. If this position is difficult to get into, try the alternative option; using a wall to support your legs. Not only is this a nice stretch but is a good way to wind down, rest, and can even help with insomnia.
For any new yogi these movements may be tricky. I recommend visiting a yoga studio for guided practice before doing at home. If you are in the Los Angeles area you can check out Jillian Forster at Hot 8 Yoga in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach, she can also be found at Body By Simone in Brentwood. Check her out online at Twitter and Instagram @Sequinjillian for updates on schedule and inspiration. Remember you will never regret taking care of yourself now.
Be sure to take care of your bodies and stalk Cassi on Bangstyle for all her latest inspirations and uploads!