Groomers are ‘Occupational Athletes’

March 14th, 2013 by ificore

Occupational athletes. That’s what my chiropractor is calling our profession of pet grooming. All those years of bending, lifting, hoisting, twisting, and reaching certainly takes a toll on the body!

And let’s not even talk about the repetitive motion stuff! Or where our hearing levels are at – what did you say? Have you ever thought about what our lungs look like? Yuck!

Yes! We definitely fit the bill of ‘occupational athletes’. We know many of our Training Partners have been afflicted with injuries or conditions that have really made their careers painful. And that includes me.

I was recently in such terrible pain that I could not move my arm. It came on suddenly, but was – and still is – the result of years of repetitive motion and strain. I am currently in therapy for this. It has made it difficult to do anything at all let alone grooming. I was even unable to use the computer for quite some time

Pain killers, ice packs, splints and physical therapy for me!

It took many years to happen. When it did, I was unable to work. Most groomers are independent business owners who cannot be sidelined for a long time. If I still depended on using a scissors and clipper every day, along with the other physical requirements that grooming demands, I would be out of work. It has only been very recent that I am able to really feel comfortable during my daily routine.

Sometimes you are quickly inflicted, like with a bite or scratch – other times it takes years of abuse before you feel the effects. The conditions come on slowly as a minor ache or pain. Before you know it, you are totally sidelined from your career. New groomers entering the field will have the same conditions and ailments that many industry veterans are struggling with right now.

One of the most important things is taking care of your body now. You might not have time to go to a gym and work out, but you can do shoulder rolls between grooms. And when you consider that grooming is a real contact sport, it wouldn’t hurt to stretch yourself, just like an athlete. Wrist rolls are easy to do and so is self-massage of wrist, arms, elbows and shoulders. Self-massage the base of your skull can increase blood flow to the brain and is very relaxing, too.

Or maybe you treat yourself to a real massage every now and then. It works wonders! If you have had a great week, treat your team to some chair massages right in the salon. Maybe you can find a local masseuse who has some dogs that need grooming.

And you must really ask yourself, “Am I in good shape right now?” Many people need to lose weight, eat right and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will help us for years AFTER we retire from the business. Pain and healing become harder to deal with when we get older. Prevention can go a long way in extending your career as a groomer and your entire lifetime, too.

I have included a link to one of our Sneak Peeks. Misty Fowler gives some great advice on staying well in the salon. She is a seasoned pro – but a few years back her career almost can to a screeching halt. By being pro-active with her health and wellness plan, Misty still grooms full time today. The video is one of our health and wellness lessons from the video library.