How to Create a Safer Environment for Groomers
The elegance and grace of finishing a beautiful groom is the rewarding part of grooming. However, the “dance” of moving with and around the dog and removing the dead hair and shaping the fur is also the work that takes a toll on all groomers.
For a long, rewarding career, it is essential to manage the repetitive motion that is part of grooming. A key strategy is investing in equipment that off-loads tasks. Ergonomics is the study of adapting a job to reduce the stress on a worker.
Ergonomics and Grooming
The human hand and wrist have 27 bones, 27 joints, 34 muscles and more than 100 ligaments and tendons. Add on many more blood vessels and nerves. All need to work precisely for you to groom.
When you do the same task over and over, your muscles, ligaments and tendons will tire. That fatigue is your body telling you to take a break. If you don’t or can’t, you set yourself on a path for injury. Giving yourself breaks and rest help.
This is where the grooming table comes in. Think about a table that has multiple adjustments. Electric lifts generally are quieter than hydraulic and don’t have the jerky adjustments that bother some pets.
If the dog is tall, let the table adjust rather than reaching. Your rapport with the pet can calm the ride up or down. Grooming arms that adjust around the table keeps you from awkwardly reaching around.
Taking an adjustment break to reposition an arm lets you drop your arms below your heart and do some recovery while you are adjusting. In addition...
• Check your back angle when you are working. If you find yourself with back pain, you may be spending too much time at an angle. Work on good posture that supports your spine.
• Mind your footwork. Just like a quarterback, your feet need to be in the right place for the task. Move your feet rather than torqueing your spine. Twisting motions are prescriptions for pain. If a pet jerks when your back is twisted, it could cause a strain or muscle tear.
• Balance your body. Reaching is just not worth it. One slip and you and the pet can get hurt. Just because you can does not mean you should.
Really Using Your Equipment
A sturdy table with a grip surface will let the pet feel at ease, and a calm pet is a predictable pet. Many groomer injuries come when the pet startles and you reach to protect it. Your care is noble but avoiding the situation saves your body.
As your business grows:
• Invest in a table that will move the pet with a reliable electric lift. You want to avoid lifting most dogs.
• Look for a durable grooming arm that won’t crumple beneath scared dogs.
• Adjustments around the table let the table do the work.
• The grooming arm should easily move up or down, so each pet is secured reliably.
Taking care of yourself is not just smart, it is good business. The more steps you take to let your equipment work hard, the more energy you will have to take care of pets and customers. And that will make everyone happy.