Working Healthy

Personal Trainer: Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common complaint among techs due to the nature of our posture: In a typical day, we can spend hours hunched over a desk or a pedi tub.

Shoulder pain is a common complaint among techs due to the nature of our posture: In a typical day, we can spend hours hunched over a desk or a pedi tub. Plus, we require the shoulder to keep our arm elevated and balanced while holding the weight of a client’s hand or foot during nail services. All the small straining adds up to big demands on our shoulders. And we feel the pain.


Shoulder pain may present itself as continual (chronic) pain, described as throbbing, aching, or a general feeling of soreness and being tired. The pain may also be an intermittent (acute) pain, described as piercing or sharp. The pain could result in the restriction or loss of movement, weakness, neck pain, headaches, swelling, and tenderness.


Multiple bones, joints, muscles, and tendons all interconnect to form the shoulder. Most shoulder pain is the result of trauma, misalignment of the bones in the cervical area of the spine, or overuse or strain to the muscles of the shoulder. Continued overuse and strain can result in injury to the muscles and tendons of the shoulder and develop into conditions such as bursitis (inflammation of the bursa), tendonitis (inflammation of the bicep tendon), or rotator cuff tear (a tear in one of the muscles of the rotator cuff). Nail techs can overuse shoulder muscles through bad posture, incorrectly holding or lifting clients’ hands and legs (which tires and strains the muscles), and even placing unbalanced weight on elbows while, for example, polishing or creating nails.

At-home Prevention/Management

To help prevent shoulder pain, evaluate how you sit and hold yourself at work. Make changes to how high, low, or close you sit to the client to achieve optimal ergonomic conditions. Further, incorporate stretching as part of your daily work activities; for example, before and after you begin your day and between clients. If you already suffer from shoulder pain, stretching can relieve some of the pain by increasing muscle mobility and releasing tightened muscles. Remember, it takes at least two minutes for muscles to begin to release, so be patient when you stretch. Ice the shoulder to reduce inflammation. Chiropractic adjustments can provide relief by re-aligning the bones of the cervical spine to remove any interference to the nervous system. If the nervous system doesn’t communicate with the muscles correctly, muscle performance is restricted.

<p>Can be done seated or standing. Bring the right arm straight out in front of you and, without angling it up or down, bring it across your body. It will be slightly above chest level. With the left arm bent at the elbow and anchored against the body for support, hold the right arm in place for a count of 30. Repeat three times.</p>


<p>Switch sides, bringing your left arm out straight and then across the body. Use the right arm to hold it in place for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.</p>



Medical Interventions

Because a number of factors can be at the root of shoulder pain, treatment will depend on the cause. A tiered approach of medical treatments from conservative to invasive may include anti-inflammatory medication, pictures (X-rays, MRI, CT scan), cortisone shot, and, in a minority of cases, surgery.

This article is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.

Photography by Kimberly Pham


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