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Strategies for preventing physical burnout


Hello hello and welcome to Greedy Bitch, a podcast where groomers stop apologizing for charging their worth.  I’m your host River Lee, founder of the Savvy Groomer.

Let’s talk about today's topic:

Strategies for preventing physical burnout

Burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion that results from prolonged exposure to high levels of stress, especially in the workplace. Burnout can impact various aspects of a person’s life, including their mental and physical well-being. It often occurs when individuals face excessive work demands, experience little control or support in their roles, and are unable to adequately recover from stress.

There are three types of groomer burnout and we will be focusing on physical burnout today. This is the type that sounds like: “My body hurts, it’s killing me. I cannot do this forever, something needs to change!”

So what does it look like? Here are some signs of being physically burnt out: fatigue, physical pain, low mood, anxiety, sleep deprived and irritability. 

Physical burnout can be particularly common due to the physically demanding nature of our work as groomers. Constantly lifting, restraining, and grooming pets, sometimes for long hours and without sufficient breaks, can place significant strain on the body over time. This can lead to muscular imbalances, repetitive strain injuries, joint pain and overall physical exhaustion.

Addressing physical burnout is essential to prevent long-term health consequences and to maintain a sustainable career in a physically demanding profession. It involves implementing strategies to reduce physical stress, prioritize self-care, and seek support when needed. 

Here are some ways to take a load off of your body.

1. Consider stopping accepting once a year or twice a year pets.

Accepting once-a-year or twice-a-year pets for grooming can contribute to physical burnout for groomers. These infrequent clients require more work, as their coats are often heavily matted and tangled. Grooming these pets can be time-consuming and physically demanding, leading to increased strain on the groomer's body. Additionally, infrequent pets may pose a higher risk, as they may be less accustomed to the grooming process and more resistant or anxious during sessions.

In contrast, grooming pets on a regular 4-6 week schedule offers several benefits. Regular clients develop stronger relationships with groomers, leading to better communication and trust. Pets groomed regularly experience fewer mats, resulting in easier haircuts and less physical exertion. By distributing their physical efforts evenly, groomers can reduce the risk of physical burnout and maintain a sustainable career in grooming.

To alleviate physical strain, it is advisable for groomers to consider prioritizing clients who adhere to a regular grooming schedule. This approach provides better customers, easier haircuts, and less physical work, contributing to a healthier and more sustainable work environment.

2. Limit size, breeds or find a niche.

When groomers limit the size of the pets they groom or specialize in specific breeds or niches, it can significantly reduce the physical strain on their bodies. Grooming large or heavy breeds, such as doodles, Old English Sheepdogs, Huskies, or Great Pyreneeses, can be physically demanding and take a toll on the groomer's shoulders, back, and overall musculoskeletal health. Letting go of labor-intensive breeds that require excessive lifting, stretching, or handling can help prevent or alleviate chronic pain and physical limitations.

My shoulders were severely affected to the point where I couldn't lift my hand above my head in my mid-20s. This personal experience underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing the physical impact of grooming certain breeds or sizes of pets. By making the conscious decision to let go of dogs over a certain weight or size, they were able to prioritize their physical well-being and allow their body to recover.

Furthermore, finding a niche or specializing in a particular area, such as grooming only cats, can also be a game-changer. Cats generally have smaller body sizes compared to larger dog breeds, resulting in less physical strain during grooming sessions. Additionally, focusing on a specific niche, such as cats or other specific breeds, allows groomers to develop specialized expertise, streamline their grooming techniques, and potentially attract a dedicated clientele. By reducing the physical demands and focusing on a niche, groomers can create a more sustainable and healthier approach to their profession.

Ultimately, limiting the size, breeds, or finding a niche in grooming is a way to prioritize self-care and prevent physical burnout. It's essential to listen to your body, recognize the impact of certain grooming tasks on your physical health, and make informed decisions to protect yourself from long-term musculoskeletal issues. By taking care of yourself and making conscious choices to reduce physical strain, you can ensure a more sustainable and enjoyable grooming career.

3. Eat food that isn’t crap.

When I had my salon I spent an average of $1,200/month on takeout, fast food, coffee, energy drinks. I was never home to even make a sandwich. And all of that poor quality food did a lot of damage to my body. You don’t need to become a health nut but make one small change a month. 

Eating nutritious food is essential for groomers to maintain physical well-being and prevent burnout. Relying on takeout, fast food, coffee, and energy drinks can negatively impact overall health due to their high calorie, and artificial additive content. This can lead to weight gain, decreased energy, and increased risk of chronic health conditions.

To make positive changes, start by planning and preparing meals in advance, even if it means dedicating time on days off. Packing nutritious snacks like fruits and nuts can provide convenient options throughout the day. Gradually replace unhealthy choices with healthier alternatives, such as swapping energy drinks for herbal teas or opting for homemade sandwiches instead of fast food.

Increasing water intake and seeking support from colleagues or friends can also aid in adopting healthier eating habits. By prioritizing nourishing foods, groomers can fuel their bodies with the nutrients needed for sustained energy, physical recovery, and overall well-being. Making small, consistent changes can have a significant impact on physical health and reduce the risk of burnout in the long run.

4. Consider working out or hiring a personal trainer.

I am not a workout freak. I would rather set myself on fire than go to the gym. But when I was in full burn out mode I hired a personal trainer and went to the gym three times a week for 2 years. I needed the accountability to help build muscle to help me do my job and recognize where I had created the wrong muscle masses to compensate for the way I was abusing myself physically. Being a 5’2” woman and lifting 100 lb. doodles by myself wasn’t very smart, but on a busy Saturday I had to do what I had to do, and I had to pay for it. 

Considering working out or hiring a personal trainer can be beneficial for groomers, even if they aren't fitness enthusiasts. I hope that my personal experience emphasizes the importance of seeking professional guidance to overcome physical burnout and prevent injuries. Hiring a personal trainer provides accountability and support in building muscle strength and addressing imbalances caused by the physical demands of grooming work. This enables groomers to perform their tasks more efficiently and safely.

Groomers often face physically demanding tasks, and regular exercise can enhance their strength, flexibility, and endurance. Engaging in various forms of exercise, such as strength training, yoga, or Pilates, can improve posture, reduce the risk of injuries, and enhance overall physical fitness. Finding a type of exercise that is enjoyable and sustainable is key to incorporating regular workouts into the grooming routine.

Investing in physical well-being through exercise and potentially hiring a personal trainer enhances a groomer's ability to handle the demands of their job without excessive strain. It allows them to develop the necessary strength, maintain muscle balance, and decrease the risk of work-related injuries. Prioritizing fitness supports long-term career sustainability and promotes overall physical health.

5. Get a massage to “dematt” all those knots in your back.

Getting regular massages is an essential form of self-care for groomers. Just like grooming a matted pet, addressing the knots and tension in your back, neck, and shoulders is crucial. Ignoring these physical pains or relying on pain medication is not a sustainable solution. By visiting a massage therapist specializing in sports or functional massage, you can gradually alleviate tension and knots in your muscles over time. Consistent weekly massages for six months can have a significant impact.

Neglecting regular massage sessions for yourself is comparable to neglecting regular grooming appointments for pets. Taking care of your body through regular massages is a vital step towards self-care and physical well-being. While there may not be an immediate fix or a quick solution, committing to regular sessions allows your body to recover, release tension, and rejuvenate.

Prioritizing self-care through regular massages contributes to a healthier, more sustainable grooming career. By investing in your physical well-being, you can work more comfortably, reduce the risk of long-term physical damage, and prevent burnout. Taking care of your body is essential for maintaining a thriving and enjoyable grooming profession.

In conclusion, addressing physical burnout in groomers is crucial for maintaining a sustainable and fulfilling career. By recognizing the signs of physical burnout and implementing strategies to alleviate strain, groomers can prioritize their well-being and prevent long-term health consequences. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a necessity. By prioritizing self-care and implementing these strategies, groomers can create a healthier work environment, reduce the risk of burnout, and enjoy a thriving and fulfilling career in the grooming industry.


Thank you all so much for listening to this podcast, Strategies for preventing physical burnout. Be sure to visit me at SavvyGroomer.com to see my current opportunities to work with me in growing your pet grooming business plus more free resources for you to learn. See you in our community on Facebook - Savvy Pet Professionals! As always, Happy Grooming