Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a topic that many hairdressers are familiar with. Before I go any further, I must stress that if you are having any consistent pain or loss of sensation which you feel may be an RSI injury, the first thing to do is consult your doctor - you may need an anti-inflammatory medication and/or therapy. Recently I was discussing RSI with Sandra (from "Roots Hair Gallery" in Glebe, NSW) who was a sufferer. I can relate to her problems because I also have had RSI from servicing scissors for the last ten years. As anyone who has RSI can tell you, once you have the pain it doesn't go away 100%, but you can do many things to make it bearable and almost unnoticeable. In my case, I talked to a physiotherapist, after consulting my doctor, who recommended stretching exercises and wearing a wrist splint. The idea of the splint is to keep your wrist straight so when you're cutting hair, the splint acts as a training tool to correct your alignment.
Alignment : Bend you wrist as far DOWN as it will go and hold it there - is it comfortable? Of course not! Now bend your hand UP as far as it will go - that feels awful too! Each part of your body prefers a comfortable range of alignment and doesn't enjoy being twisted or otherwise forced out of that comfortable range. Now if you are repeatedly doing that all day every day, this causes stress on your tendons and you develop pain. Recently, doctors have started using the term Repetitive Strain Disorder (RSD) instead of RSI because they've found that some people are more prone to the problem than others.
Swivel & Flex Scissors : After talking to Sandra at length and studying her cutting techniques, I decided to make my first pair of "Swivel" scissors. Now this is not a new idea - you have to give the Japanese credit for inventing the swivel concept. And until recently, if you wanted to buy a pair of swivel type scissors it would cost you over $1000. If you study the photographs you will see the difference the swivel scissors make to "keeping your wrist straight" in all cutting positions. The rotating thumb ring allows the hairdresser to use the scissors at different angles without moving the hand or wrist into an awkward position. Stressing the wrist is also a major cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which is a type of RSI. The added advantage of the swivel scissor is the added distance or gap between the thumb hole and the finger hole so the travel of your thumb movement is not as restricted or cramped and is again in correct "alignment".
The happy ending to this story is that Sandra has noticed a dramatic improvement to RSI pain since using her new scissors. You will see in the photo that the wrist splint used is a flexible support type and is only necessary to use as a training tool for one or two weeks.
What's Available? : I have three "Swivel" models in my Sharpline range which come in varying sizes. To be fair, "Flex" and "Swivel" scissors are also available as models from other brands available on this website.Prices range from $300. If you are suffering from RSI and want to continue your career as a hairdresser without the pain, consult your doctor.
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