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Is It Possible To Avoid RSI or Carpal Tunnel In Hairdressing?

August 15, 2022

Haircutting related injuries like Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can most definitely be avoided when you understand how these injuries can occur in the first place. There are many workforces that can suffer from these repetitive strain injuries but in our Industry, there are many factors that can cause such injuries while cutting hair.

First being using the incorrect hair cutting scissors that are not ergonomically designed for repetitive movement cutting. Next is your posture when blow-drying or cutting where your back is bent and your shoulders arching over (Kind of like The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Another could be that your scissors simply need sharpening or the tension is way too tight. Also did you know that if your basin is too low that can cause back pains and strain?

Being aware of any uncomfortable pains or awkward posture is the best way to actually think to yourself how can I do this better? So that over time you don't develop Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or Carpal Tunnel. Well today that's exactly what we would like you to go through with you.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a debilitating condition that causes pain in mainly your wrist, hand and arm while cutting. The pain can also travel up to your shoulder as a result from being left untreated. Carpal Tunnel is a form of nerve damage or strain that causes the pain to be so severe that it can become impossible to cut hair comfortably.

Carpal Tunnel can vary from debilitating pain to uncomfortable pain and the only way to know for sure apart from the obvious signs, is to visit a doctor or physiotherapist to be diagnosed.

What is RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive Strain Injury is very similar to other straining injuries that cause pains and discomfort while relatively cutting and working all day long. RSI is a more broad term for Repetitive strain injuries like Carpal Tunnel. Repetitive Strain Injury or RSI could mean sore hands, fingers, wrist, shoulders back, legs or all of the above.

With time a repetitive strain injury can be treated over a 3-6 month time frame by a Doctor or Physiotherapist, but why let it get to that point. If you have let it get to a point where the pain is unbearable then changing your habits, hairdressing scissors or medical treatment can be a huge help while cutting hair.

What are the correct scissors to use

Swivel Shears

Swivel Shears were really created for the sole purpose of helping those suffering from a Repetitive Strain Injury like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The Swivel thumb is there to take strain off your wrist while cutting and to help relax your hand in a more natural cutting position. The design will also allow you to cut with your elbow in a lower and comfortable position which will help and take strain off your arm, shoulder and back too.

Before these Scissors were created it meant that being diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injury or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was a career ender, now with these scissors available this is not the case anymore.

Ergo Shears

An Ergo design comes in many different designs and when you see the name Ergo in the description of a shear it means that the shear will be ergonomically designed for comfort while cutting. Ergo Shears are more comfortable than traditional because an Ergo design will allow your hand to relax in a more natural position while cutting which will help reduce any repetitive movement strains while cutting.

Some Ergo hairdressing scissors that we have for our customers are..

  • Matsui Classic Ergo, An alternative to Swivel Shears.
  • Master Barber Ergo. Great alternative for barbers that need an ergonomically designed shear.
  • Matsui super Ergo Devil, Extra support and comfort for all your fingers while cutting and also more control.
  • Sozu Ergonomic shears, an affordable option for hairdressing needing an ergonomic shear that's high quality but at a lower price.
  • Matsui Double Threat, Even though the handle is a classic design the benefit of these shears would be that you can cut with your left or right hand. When changing hands while cutting you take less strain of one hand which helps with repetitive strain injury
Other ways to avoid RSI or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Unnecessary stress on your body parts could be avoided or corrected by doing other simple steps instead of swapping out your scissors.


To use the correct posture while cutting is very important. You want to have no hunchbacks while bending over and bend your knees while working instead. Also be aware of your shoulders while cutting and make sure they are not hunched over either. You will notice this more if the client is sitting too low for you.

Scissors Maintenance

Not keeping up to date with sharpening you haircutting scissors at least twice a year would mean you scissors will become blunt causing strain while cutting. It's also important to check your tension is not too tight or too loose as the incorrect tension can cause strain. Lastly, oiling and cleaning your scissors regularly is important. Having stiff or dirty scissors can cause them to also be straining on your wrists and hands.

Not using a cutting stool

Feel like you're hunching over while cutting? try using a cutting stool so that you're at eye level comfortably while cutting. Also a cutting stool can be a good idea to use at the basin too, so you're not bending into the basin while washing.

Heavy tools

Having a heavy blow-dryer, brush’s or any other type of heavy tool can cause significant strain on your body. Always try investing in lighter tools.

Standing on your feet for too long

We understand that as a hairdresser sometimes you are so busy you don't notice that you are on your feet all day. Being aware of your body and taking breaks to sit down as often as you can throughout the day is a great idea to reduce excessive strain.

Light weight steel

To reduce excessive strain while cutting it's always a good idea to use hairdressing scissors that are made from lighter steel. We understand lighter steel scissors are not for everybody, but if you have tired hands and wrists then maybe a lighter steel is what your body is crying out for and needs.


As hairstylists and Barbers you need to really take care of your body while cutting, we hope that by reading this blog you would have picked up tips and tricks to prevent Carpal Tunnel or RSI. It's never too late to implement new habits now that will benefit you in years to come, you will thank us for it later!

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