Yoga for Hairdressers – easing shoulder pain and neck pain

The ultimate solution for easing shoulder pain in 15 minutes or less

Yoga for hairdressers may just be the ultimate solution for easing back and neck aches and shoulder pains at the salon.

Healthy plants and trees yield abundant flowers and fruits. Similarly, from a healthy person, smiles and happiness shine forth like the rays of the sun.
B.K. S Iyengar

It’s fairly obvious that working in a salon has little in common with your average desk job. You spend the better part of the day on your feet, most of it behind the chair or basin – cutting, combing, washing and styling hair all day. You are constantly moving back and forth after product, equipment and your clients themselves, from one workstation to the next.

Shoulder pain stretch yogaBy the end of the day, the majority of hairdressers experience varying degrees of health issues. Many complain of excruciating back, neck and shoulder pain, due to the nature of their work.  A hairdresser is forced to stand for hours with their backs hunched, leaning towards the customer, neck bent and shoulders crouched – extreme positions that put strain on their shoulder muscles, neck and spine.  Spending long periods of time holding up styling equipment can also force hand muscles to contract abnormally, restricting proper blood flow and increasing the risk of developing repetitive strain injury (RSI). Bottom line:  this profession can hurt!

Have you ever considered trying yoga to help alleviate your symptoms?  Now I’m not talking about the split leg, knees-behind-your-ears kind of yoga that you’re probably familiar with, but simple, easy-to-do poses that just might help alleviate your symptoms and leave you feeling relaxed at the end of a busy day.

Here are five moves to help ease your neck, shoulders, back and legs in a matter of minutes.

(Remember, these are exercises meant to provide relief from everyday aches and pains.  If you suffer from actual injury or have a diagnosed condition affecting the areas these exercises target, please consult your treating practitioner before attempting.)

Relieving stiffness in the neck

A series of soft movements meant to relax the muscles around your neck and upper shoulder region.  These are the most basic, simplest moves to target pain most commonly experienced by hairdressers.

Side to side and circular neck movements

Start by standing straight (try in front of a mirror to help maintain your posture) and slowly tilt your neck from side to side. As you exhale, stretch your head towards your shoulder as far as is comfortable, and hold for 5 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.  Then start moving your head up and down, inhaling as you tilt it up and exhaling as you drop it down to your chest. Keep the movements slow and steady never pushing yourself into a position of pain.

Massage your neck

Place your hands on your shoulders with your elbows pointing forward and slowly massage the back of your neck with your hands moving up and down, right from the back of your skull down to your shoulder blades. Do this for about five minutes.

Repeat these movements for about 10 minutes and you will feel the difference in your neck area.

Relaxing your shoulders

The best way to relax your shoulder muscles is by warming them up, trying to flex the inner muscles to ease tension caused by long periods of raising your arms in repetitive motions while working on a client’s head.

This session also requires you to stand, again in front of a mirror to keep a check on your posture. Start by loosening your arms, letting them hang down alongside your body and relax, no tension in your arms. Then move both shoulders in circular forward rotations for 10 seconds and then circular backward rotations for another 10 seconds. When you do this you will start feeling muscles in your upper shoulders neck and back warming up and stretching.

Remember to inhale and exhale with each circular movement. You can do this move while sitting down on your heels. Do you feel any difference? This is the perfect Yoga stretch for hairdressers in between clients.

Relaxing the upper and lower back

There’s nothing as awful as back pain, muscles that cramp and lock up because of bad posture and excessive time spent in strange positions while working behind the chair. You may experience discomfort because of staying in a hunched position all day working on your clients. The following series of movements are meant to warm up and stretch your contracted back muscles, leaving you relaxed and alleviating those backaches and shoulder pains.

Stretchy back

Begin by lying on your stomach and bring your face to the floor. Put your hands on either of your body and slowly lift your upper body upwards, rolling your chest off the floor and squeeze your shoulders blades together. Do this three times and you will immediately feel your shoulder muscles warming up.

Twisted back

Then kneel in dog position on the mat. And arch your back upward with your hands inhaling loudly for 3 seconds, then relax in opposite sequence, ending with your head high and exhale. Do this for 3 or 4 times.

Stand and then bend towards the floor, keeping your legs straight as you stretch your arms towards the floor – long stretch and stay in this posture for 10 seconds.

Then get into a kneeling position with your legs tucked under, and stretch out your left arm, reaching around to the right side of your body, under your right arm and gently twist your back. Use your right arm to apply mild leverage and twist as far as feels comfortable. Stay in this posture for 10 seconds, inhaling and exhaling before repeating the same move with the right arm on the left side.

The strap technique (awesome for shoulder pain)

Get a strap or tie or ribbon for this posture. Sitting on your heels, hold the ends of the strap in either hand in front of you, around shoulder height.  Pull the strap taut, squeezing your shoulder blades together, as you lengthen the elbows and push out your chest. Hold the position for 10 seconds.

Then still holding your strap, stretch your left hand behind you, with your right hand stretching upwards, and pull the strap downwards towards your feet.  Switch the arms and do the same with the right arm.  You will feel your spine stretching.

Leg strengthening poses

Because you spend most of your time on your feet, you’ll find it beneficial if you strengthen your feet muscles. You can easily do that with these yoga postures.

The chair pose

Stand with your feet together and stretch out your arms towards the sky. Still standing bend your knees slightly and form a right angle with your thighs, as if you’re sitting on a chair. Stay in this position for some 30 seconds. Then stand straight and exhale. Do this 5 times repeatedly. This posture tones your entire body and improves posture and balance.

The warrior

This is a common body strengthener proven to increase stamina, stretch upper and inner thigh muscles and promote leg strength.

Stand with your feet wide apart. Turning to the left, pull your left leg slightly inward. Stretch your arms out wide parallel to the floor and incline your left foot to a 90 degrees position and hold for one minute. Repeat with either side for 10 minutes.


This is believed to work magic on your lower body, opening up your hips, chest and warming up the spine. Begin with your legs wide apart, feet slightly facing outward. Bend your knees over your toes and bring your lower back down into a squat.

Put your hands in prayer position on the chest while pushing your thighs forward and your hips to the back. Keeping your back straight, gaze into the horizon for 1 minute, release and repeat 4 to 5 times.

5 minute routine for your wrists

wrist pain stretch yoga This is one technique that could possibly help what might be the most common pain experienced by hairdressers – RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  This 5 minute routine comes in so handy for our profession, as it’s a great way of reducing aches and pains in those sore wrists.

Stretch both arms forward. Put your right hand over the fingers of your left and gently pull backwards, stretching your wrist towards your chest  Hold for 15 seconds, keeping your left shoulder straight, then repeat on the opposite side.

Next you want to repeat the previous technique, only this time rather than stretching your wrist up and backwards, stretch it downwards, curling back towards your body.  Again, repeat on the opposite side, then loosely shake your wrists.


Here I have outlined just a few, easy-to-do yoga exercises that you can try at home at the end of a busy day.  If you find them helpful, you can find many more moves that are equally good online. My favorite resource is It is a freemium website, that means they provide lots of free content with the option to also purchase extra routines for a small fee.

Let me know in the comments below if you found any benefits from trying these yoga postures to help reduce your shoulder pain or ease your neck and back pain. Or even let me know what you do  to relieve your aches and pains.  Maybe you know of other sites that would be of benefit to hairdressers for easing their aches and pains, please share that for everyone too!

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About Anthony Presotto

Currently one of only two Australian hairstylists who are members of the Hairdressing World Expert Panel, Anthony Presotto is on a mission to empower salon owners, sharing his expertise as an author, international speaker and salon business strategist.

One Comment

  1. Easy and simple steps that if you wish to follow may help ease the pain.

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