Lice Picking and Ergonomics (Spoiler Alert: Don't forget to stretch.)

If you read this blog, you know that I have taken a break from lice and nit picking.  First, it was for family reasons.  Now, it's because I have a neck problem that gives me arm pain.  The cause of this problem is unknown, but I'm sure that my bad posture in my work didn't help the situation.

When I first started doing home visits, I brought along a stool that was height adjustable. I could do combing and picking at a height that worked best for my body.  Then my stool broke and I chose not to replace it. I would simply use whatever chair was available in someone's home - which would mean that I would often find myself bending and maintaining poor posture for hours.  I'm a healthy woman (strong like ox, smart like tractor!) and I've never had back problems.  So, I never thought about my posture or how I moved when I worked.

Now, my movement and posture are all I think about. Because I'm in pain.  (Do you like this picture of my spine?  This is one of my MRI images.  I feel so exposed!) My type of injury is common and probably caused because of many factors:  My age, poor posture, picking head lice, working at a desk, playing the theremin (I love this instrument! Google 'Clara Rockmore'.) Check out this older post to see an example of my bad posture. I have taken my health for granted all my life, but now I realize that I need to be more intentional about how I move, work, and play.

If you are reading this, I know that you are dealing with head lice.  Now, let's be reasonable - I think it is highly unlikely that picking or combing will cause you pain.  Unless you are a lice professional, I can't see any reason that you would be working on multiple people for hour after hour, year after year. 

Still, lice combing/picking for just a couple of hours can be hard on your body.  I always tell people to take care of themselves when dealing with head lice.  Don't do 6 hour nit picking marathons.  Don't waste your energy by doing excessive  (and ineffective) cleaning or laundering. Make sure you are eating well and getting adequate sleep.  The panic that many people feel when dealing with head lice can cause real emotional stress.  And as with any activity, too much time in one position or in a position that creates bad posture can also cause physical stress.

The moral of the story?  Let's take care of ourselves when lice picking. If you are doing the nit picking, make sure that your subject is at a height and position that works for both of you. The nitpicker and the nitpickee should take regular stretch breaks. If things are going on for too long, do something else for a while and come back to the lice at a later time. (Don't worry - waiting for a little while won't make things worse.  You can always pick/comb faster than lice can reproduce.)

Head lice are an annoyance but not a true health issue. We need to ensure that the same thing can be said about their treatment. Let's be careful out there.

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