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Back to Basics: Taking Care of Your Body with Dr. Matthew Phinney

Special Guests

Dr. Matthew Phinney

Dr. Matthew Phinney was raised in Markham, ON and graduated from Bishop’s University in Quebec Canada in 2004 and then from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport Iowa in 2010. He is currently a member of the International Chiropractors Association and the Michigan Chiropractic Association. Dr. Phinney developed an interest in chiropractic while he was training and playing rugby with the Canadian National team. In 2006 while on a rugby tour to New Zealand, he injured two discs in his neck during a match. The limited ability of conventional medicine to understand and treat his injury left a strong impression on him. It wasn’t until he returned to his home in Victoria, BC that a chiropractor was able to help him, it was then Dr. Phinney decided to pursue chiropractic as a profession.

Research shows that dog grooming and pet care services can be very physically demanding occupations that by nature cause a higher incidence of pain and injury. Joe Zuccarello teams up with Chiropractor & Learn2GroomDogs.com expert Matt Phinney to learn tips and tricks to avoid injury, reduce repetitive stress and mitigate pain on the job. You’ll learn how to take care of your body to extend your grooming career, and discover answers to questions like:

  • What is a negative survival value on the body?
  • What’s the difference between a professional athlete’s career and a professional groomer’s career?
  • How can improving your morning routine help you get through the day better?
  • What are the consequences of not lifting a dog correctly?

Tune in to find out.

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Transcript

Welcome to Hey Joe!, a podcast answering questions asked by our listeners. Created by pet professionals for pet professionals. And now, your host, Hey Joe!’s very own, Joe Zuccarello.

Joe Zuccarello: What’s up, everyone? Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome to Hey Joe!, a podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our site at paragonpetschool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information to help you grow yourself, your team, and of course, your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

What’s up, everyone? This is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the Hey Joe! podcast. This is a podcast where you get to listen in on a real life coaching call between myself and a subject matter expert in the pet industry. And most of the questions and subject matter we cover kind of come from questions you might ask, from the Hey Joe! listener audience out there and, not surprisingly, most of those question start with the words, “Hey Joe!”

Well, that’s a pain I haven’t felt before. I used to be able to do that, but now my body is fighting me. How am I going to get through today? Is this pain or injury going to cut my career short? Is it temporary? Is there something I can do to help this discomfort, or is it going to just keep getting worse? If these are questions you have, you’re definitely not alone. We have often said that a career in the pet care services industry is a physical one and one that is definitely demanding on your body, both mentally and physically.

Today I’ll be talking with Dr. Matt Phinney. Dr. Matt is a chiropractor and even bigger than that, he’s a member of a national presence of doctors called the Wellness Champions. These champions have made it their mission to help people just like you, who are in a physically demanding job, to help spread the word of preventative care so that you don’t shave time off of your career and possibly your income potential and your financial security. Dr. Matt is going to share some real life information with you in hopes that you start paying more attention to what you do daily that can actually be hurting you or even maybe something you can be doing daily to actually help you well into the future. And, as always, you can go to paragonpetschool.com to learn more about Dr. Matt and the Wellness Champions, and stick around to the very end of the podcast because Dr. Matt is going to share with you some really cool, exciting news on how you can get some of the attention from the Wellness Champions for free. So stick around.

If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this podcast and share this podcast with all of your friends and family who you believe can benefit by listening to it.

What’s up, everyone. This is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the Hey Joe! podcast, and Dr. Matt and I will be talking about health and wellness in the pet care services career today. And thank you to all of the Hey Joe! listener audience out there for sending in questions about this and many other topics. If you would like to submit your question for possible use on a future Hey Joe! podcast, it’s very easy to do. Just send your question to our email address, and that email address is heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com. What’s up, Dr. Matt? How are you today?

Matt Phinney: What’s happening, Joe? I’m doing great. How are you doing?

Joe Zuccarello: Good, man. Thanks for joining us today, and I’m sure our audience is just going to be inundated with some very helpful information from you. But I think first we owe them a little bit more of an explanation about who you are, how you got started in your career choice, and maybe that’s a little bit of an inspiration for our team. It’s certainly a connection as well. So, you mind telling us a little bit more about yourself?

Matt Phinney: Cool, yeah. So my name’s Dr. Matt Phinney, a local doc in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but also part of a national network of providers really all across the USA and really the world, known as the Wellness Champions. And really our big goal, big vision, big purpose is bringing health and wellness solutions to local groups, organizations, businesses. And so yeah, great question.

My professional training is chiropractor. That’s kind of how I got my start. Was a rugby player, used to play rugby for the Canadian National Team. Was in New Zealand, ended up having basically what I thought at the time was a career-ending injury. Herniated three discs in my neck, couldn’t feel my arm or hand. I mean, I couldn’t even lift up a glass of water at the time.

And so I had tried all of the traditional treatments and methods, the workouts, the stretches, the … I mean, you name it, I did it. And it wasn’t until I actually met a chiropractor and he sort of explained to me, “Hey, this is how the body works. This is what’s going on with your system right now. This is what you need to do to get it fixed.” And he sort of mapped out a game plan or a road map to get me back up and running from a performance standpoint so I could actually play again.

I actually got back on the team. Interesting story, I was over in England. Met a couple of guys from Newcastle that were actually home on their summer break, and they were on a rugby scholarship to become chiropractors. And so we kind of started talking after the game, and they’re like, “Yeah, you can actually get a scholarship in America and become a chiropractor,” and I’m like, “Cool. Sign me up. How do I do it?” So we kind of corresponded back and forth, and the rest is history. That’s how it started.

Joe Zuccarello: Wow. So now, it’s interesting I think when you talk about your beginnings and that you were on a national rugby team. I think sometimes the Hey Joe! listener audience out there feels like they’ve just participated in a game of rugby. So I think we’re going to have an immediate connection as far as the physical nature, the physical tolls I think that a professional in pet care faces every day.

And it really … I don’t really care if you’re a dog groomer or you are a dog walker or you are a pet sitter or daycare provider, any of those. I think about these animals that we just cherish and just what they can actually do to us, right, as we’re trying to care for them. Just even at the end of the leash and the pulling and the struggling or trying to maintain some sense of control or organization on the table, all of those things. So we’re going to kind of peel that back a little bit and allow Dr. Matt to start to try to maybe identify some things for you so that maybe when these things are happening to you out there, Hey Joe! listener audience, when these things are happening, you maybe have a better sense of awareness and can actually see maybe how those things are affecting you.

So when we’re talking health and wellness … And Dr. Matt, you’re a chiropractor. There are probably a large faction of our listener audience out there that visit chiropractors. I know my chiropractor for myself and my athlete son, he’s almost like a member of the family now. But there are a lot of folks out there have never been to a chiropractor, right. So, maybe they’ve heard some things about chiropractors and such and … Can you just give us really the down and dirty about chiropractic medicine.

Matt Phinney: Yeah, yeah, great question. A lot of the time, people will think chiropractic is just about back pain or neck pain or maybe headaches. But there is a very intimate connection between the body’s structure, so skeletal systems, and the nervous system. Which, nervous system is the master control system. Controls the coordination of every single function that your body carries out, every single second of every day. From your heart beating to your lungs breathing to your stomach digesting food, creating new tissues. All of these processes are controlled and coordinated by the brain and communicated through the nervous system.

And, so, spinal column is protecting the spinal cord just like your skull protects the brain, which is the mainframe computer. And it’s sending and receiving hundreds of millions of messages every single second, back and forth, and it’s either saying “Hey, everything’s good down here” or “Hey, something has to be done.” So anything that’s interfering with that communication pathway is really interfering with how your body functions and your body’s ability to function on a daily basis is really what determines your energy, your quality of life, your standard of living and what you are able to really accomplish in a day’s work or week’s work or month’s work in terms of helping and serving the people that you’re with or the animals that you’re with.

I don’t know if that answers your question. But really, that’s what it is. Is we’re nerve doctors, nervous system doctors. Really interested in the human frame and maximizing performance potential.

Joe Zuccarello: That definitely helps me and I’m sure it helps a lot of other folks. I wish somebody would have been able to explain it to me that way before we just kind of jumped into it. Actually, my son’s athletic trainer had recommended our chiropractor and it wasn’t until after my son started going there that my wife and I started going to the chiropractor. So we would have not necessarily have kind of leapt into that because, to your point, we thought well, heck you see a chiropractor when you have back pain or neck pain. It goes well beyond that.

What’s really great about having Dr. Matt speaking to you, our audience out there for the Hey Joe! podcast, is that Dr. Matt is not only just a chiropractor and just a member of Wellness Champions. That’s the role he focuses on mainstream, but Dr. Matt understands our industry. And here’s why I say that: Dr. Matt has been a long-time training partner for our learntogroomdogs.com membership base. So, if you are a member at learntogroomdogs.com, you might have seen Dr. Matt’s videos and instructions. If you’re not a member at learntogroomdogs.com, I would recommend that you do that right away. Sign on as a member, and you can see his full feature videos. So, you can take what we’re talking with for a brief moment in time today, and you can then go and learn even more of what Dr. Matt has to share with you. So, my point is, is that Dr. Matt understands what it is that you do every day in the pet care services arena.

To that point, pick a body part right? Pet care services arena is very very physical. Doesn’t really matter your age, although you’re, I’m sure going to talk about how age matters to some things and preventative measures and such. But, as we were prepping for our show, you said, “Listen man, it could be your neck, it could be your hands, it could be your finger, it could be your knees, it could be your wrists. Not anything that’s right now foreign or surprising to the Hey Joe! listener audience out there.

So, when we talk about a physically demanding career, how do you see … because you treat people obviously outside of the pet industry. So, how does the pet industry measure up to maybe some other types of careers. Do you think we are less physical, just as physical, more physical? How does it rank?

Matt Phinney: Oh my goodness. When they look at, even if you compared, and these are all great questions. And this is a sort of comment on what you said previously. I mean, I don’t pretend to know every single thing about what grooming professionals do but, I do know that what they do is performance-based. You know, just with working with many, many groomers over the years.

When they look at studies, and there’s research behind this. So they actually compare grooming professionals to, say, control groups, and they look of incidents of different muscular, skeletal issues. And this is right out of the Oxford Journal of Occupational Medicine, Volume 61, Issue 5. I mean, neck pain, 46 percent of grooming professionals will experience neck pain as compared to say, 19 percent of people in a control group. So that’s people who aren’t groomers. Shoulder pain, you’re looking at 55 percent of grooming professionals. That’s over one in two, compared to 11 percent of a control group. Elbows, 11 compared to one percent of a control group. So, 10 times the likelihood you’re going to have some type of elbow issue. Wrist and hand, 43 percent comparative to 9 percent that aren’t grooming. Upper back 40, lower back 62. Almost two-thirds.

I mean, these are all things that … I mean, the listeners know, they’re like “Holy jumping, I’ve dealt with all of this stuff at some point.” It’s not if, it’s really, it’s when is it going to happen. So that’s why being prepared for it and really taking the best care of your body on a proactive but preventative basis, I mean is really really important. The numbers are quite clear, the stats are clear.

Joe Zuccarello: Well what’s amazing about that Dr. Matt is that, you have just quantified through looking at numbers … And these are proven numbers, this isn’t just feeling like … I think the Hey Joe! Listener audience out there is right now having this “Aha” moment. They just did that V8 smacked to the forehead like, “Yeah! That’s me, that’s exactly how I feel!” But until you just said to them, “Listen, the way you feel is completely valid. Not only valid, it’s proven, it’s scientifically measured against control groups. To say that it’s 5, 6, 8, and I want the Hey Joe! listener audience to know, this is the first time I’m hearing those statistics as well and I am just blown away. I knew, I knew, I knew, that this is a physically demanding career choice and Dr. Matt just said, “Yeah, you know what, it’s totally valid. Your feelings are totally valid.”

So just a quick reminder of who we’re talking with today and who you guys are listening to. This is Dr. Matt Phinney. Dr. Matt is a longtime friend of our industry and certainly a longtime friend of learntogroomdogs.com and Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Definitely Melissa Verplank, our founder as well. So, Melissa and Dr. Matt know each other very well. And, again, we’re talking to Dr. Matt about the physical tolls of the pet career or the pet services career.

And we’re going to now start kind of peeling that back a little bit and saying, “Okay, we’ve identified that we have statistically proven that this is an issue. We are confident that we know now that every body part can be affected in our career choice. But now let’s maybe take a little bit of a dive into education and awareness.” And Dr. Matt, I’ve told you before, Paragon, we believe that education is everything. So sometimes, education is also synonymous with just being aware. So whether you, the listener audience out there know this already, I guess my challenge to you is, if you don’t know it, you’re going to know it after this podcast but if you do know it, are you putting it into practice. Are you practicing it?

So let’s talk a little bit about prevention … and part of this is we run the age gamut, Dr. Matt. So we’ve got some baby groomers, we’ve got some teenagers that might be listening that work at a pet daycare facility or boarding facility, all the way up to veteran groomers and such who have been doing this for 30, 40, maybe even more years. So, it’s kind of hard to talk about prevention, or is it, to the people that have been doing it for a while. But you’ve told me, it’s never too late to start trying to prevent what could happen next.

Matt Phinney: Of course. Yeah, I mean … right.

Joe Zuccarello: So, let’s peel that back a little bit. No, that’s okay. So, let’s peel that back a little bit. Just because you know it, are you practicing it? And what are some of the things now that if you were to kind of identify some of the biggies, some of the things that maybe our pet care professionals out there can do to prevent themselves from getting injured.

Matt Phinney: I think you really hit the nail on the head there, Joe. I mean, one of the first things is just becoming aware that the constant stress that they’re dealing with as grooming professionals is not uncommon. I mean, it’s across the board. It’s not just necessarily too that sort of acute like, oh you know, I lifted wrong this one time or I slipped on, you know, the floor and I ended up injuring myself and couldn’t work for six months. One of the big, big things is just understanding that, really that, the stress that their dealing with – the repetitive movements, the prolonged sort of static postures – it’s a cumulative trauma. It’s not like, hey it happened one time and then it went away. What happens is it’s called negative survival value on the body. And it accumulates over the course of your career.

And so, kind of like I would use the analogy of a car. You can drive a brand new car off of the lot and you’re going to get 20, 30, maybe even 40,000 miles out of it no matter what you do. You can beat the heck out of the thing and it’s still going to get you from Point A to Point B. But what happens is the mileage starts to increase, mileage starts to get higher, you start to get up to the 40, 50,000. That’s when the wheels can fall off the car. And it wasn’t just that one turn or that one stop. It was the constant, cumulative stress that these groomers are dealing with all day long every day. And it’s over the course of say, 3, 5, 10, 15 years. So just recognizing that all of those little things, whether you feel them right now or not, your body is forced to handle and adapt to them. And the more things that you can do to improve your, basically your ability to adapt, the longer, the healthier, the happier you’re going to be in your career. If that makes sense.

So that’s one of the first things. Is just getting your head around, hey it’s like, every little thing you do does matter.

Joe Zuccarello: Right. And you’ve said to me before, feeling good now doesn’t mean that everything is okay. That sets a play right out of your book. That one really struck me. I guess, don’t be bluffed by age, right. A lot of times young people, myself included, when I was a teenagers, early 20s, man, I thought I was bulletproof. And there are certain things now that I’m paying for. A budding career in football, those kinds of things. Long time young person career, as a young athlete in soccer, knees and feet and things of that sort. So feeling good doesn’t necessarily mean everything is okay.

Matt Phinney: It really comes down to what would be our definition of health and how do we know, how do we know whether or not we’re doing well. How do we know whether or not we have something going on. And it really has nothing to do with how we feel, nothing to do with how we look, nothing to do with whether or not we have a symptom. It really has to do with how we’re functioning. And that’s really what we’re interested in, is how is your body functioning and are you doing or providing the things that your body requires in order to function at its peak for the longest possible period of time. We can kind of get into some of that stuff further down the road but really … Sorry, go ahead.

Joe Zuccarello: No, no, no. I was just going to say let’s take a quick peek behind that curtain. If what you’re talking about is, I kind of pointed out and its kind of the only thing I go to is, not necessarily like how many dogs have you groomed in your career or how many pets have you walked in your career or that sort of thing. But if we can at least maybe look at ages and say okay … because part of this is is one of our jobs at the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, whether it’s on on-campus school or distance learning, online training program, or even learntogroomdogs.com, and we have a lot of folks that are just getting into the industry. So we don’t want to spook them either, right? So we don’t want to scare them and say, “Oh my gosh, you’re going to get hurt.” Right. “Don’t do this,” you know, “run, run while you can.”
But I think it’s more so just bringing it to them, so that they can start paying attention to that early. So, do you have some things for maybe … and I don’t know what you would consider young, I still consider myself young, although sometimes people and my body would argue differently. But do you have some things that we can do as … maybe our younger audience out there can be paying attention to now? Good healthy routines to kind of put in place right now that might help them out long-term?

Matt Phinney: Yeah. I mean, it really gets back to what we were speaking about earlier. Is really treating our careers as say groomers as a daily … I mean, you mentioned it, sometimes we feel like we just played a rugby match. I mean, their job on a daily basis is like an athletic event. And so, the difference between … and I coin groomers as what I call occupational athletes. They’re showing up to work every single day and they’re playing an 8, 9, 10 hour match. With the animals and the people that they’re interacting with. I mean, just because it is so physically intensive.

And so, the difference between say a professional athlete and an occupational athlete, one of them is paid scale, although we do know the longer that you can stay in the game, the easier it becomes to earn an income. But professional athletes, they have to maintain that level of performance for about three to five years, would be the average career span for professional athletes. After that, they can go do whatever the heck they want to do. They can go away and do whatever. Now us occupational athletes, we need to maintain that level of performance, that level of service, that level of care. We need to do it over the course of 30 to 50 years. And so, really one of the things we know is that our daily rhythm and our daily ritual are really what determine our results.

One of the things I mean, we can go many different ways on this. We can talk nutrition or we can talk sleep, We can talk exercise. There’s so many positive mental attitudes. There’s so many different areas that we can go here. You know, maintaining and doing those things. But what I will say is having an evening routine, having a morning routine, just like an athlete would have a warm-up routine. Having some type of physical warm-up routine where you’re preparing your body for the day’s events, I mean, is super important. Preparing the mind for the day’s events. You tell me Joe, where do you want to go with this?

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. Sometimes I think some of our Hey Joe! listener audience out there thinks the morning warm-up is how hot the coffee is in their cup that morning. That’s my morning warm-up, right. But I think Dr. Matt, I’m certain you’re going to be a repeat guest on the Hey Joe! podcast. So I think what we probably will do on future episodes, we’re going to take a little bit deeper dive into all of those things or maybe we’ll group some of those things together. But, you kind of summed it up by saying, have this evening routine, have this morning routine.

I just love the comparison that you make to athletes, professional athletes, in that a professional athlete, again, their career is very short lived. But our career in pet and professional pet care is long-term. I just think really that that comparison is super powerful to kind of put into the mindset of the Hey Joe! listener audience out there. So, maybe for just a moment, let’s talk for just a minute about the morning routine, all right. So, obviously, evenings we’re just tuckered out. So we might just jump into bed and call it quits for the day. Maybe we take a hot bubble bath or whatever. Don’t tell anybody I said that but … and maybe we just kind of fall into our recliner and just crash. Let’s talk about that morning routine because so many times, our Hey Joe! listener audience, they’re up bright and early. They’re opening the door and customers are coming in with them. What is it that they can do before they get there?

Matt Phinney: So I think one of the big things is just getting out of bed. When you do get out bed, what can happen a lot of times is we’ll pop open maybe a cell phone or maybe you have a computer or laptop up and we start to either, I don’t know, maybe scroll through social media or answer emails or phone calls. And, so one of the big things that I would say is just setting the agenda for the day. What happens if we’re starting off in what we call a responsive, we’re reacting to things that are going on in our world right away, it puts us into this, what we call like this hindbrain, fight-flight mentality. So we’re just reacting and just trying to survive or make it through the day.

So one of the first things that I, I mean, recommend people do is get up in the morning and really set the agenda for the day. Me personally, I make daily goals and affirmations. I recommend doing that. Kind of planning out your day the evening before, or planning out your week maybe Sunday. Get a cup of coffee, look at what you have coming, so that you can actually prepare for the week ahead. Otherwise, I mean, from a stress standpoint, from a physiology standpoint, I mean, there’s so much research behind just operating in that fight-flight, that fear mentality was like, “Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen next” or “Oh my gosh, I have to deal with this.” Really setting that agenda for the day, I think is super important.

You could do, we call it the Hour of Power. You could narrow it down to the 10 Minutes of Power. Even things you could do to really stimulate what we call the rest and digest or the healing and repair portion of the nervous system. Tempoed breathing or boxed breathing. Five seconds. Deep breath in, hold for five, and then out. Even just starting with 10 reps of that, oxygenating the system, that’s going to just clear the head. It puts you into that sort of proactive, executive function, where you can really prioritize productive outcomes and what you need to do and accomplish for that day. And that’s even just a simple, simple start.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and I know that sometimes too … What I really like about that is you owe it to yourself, you owe it to the pets, right. Because you’re dealing with the pets and they can cause a little frustration throughout the day. You owe it to the pet parents, who could cause you equal amounts of frustration. You owe it to your team members, whether you’re a co-worker or maybe you’re one of our salon leaders or salon managers or owners, right. So you owe it to everybody kind of in your orbit, including yourself as the kind of center of your own orbit, right.

There’s a technique that I’ll share with the group that I learned a long time ago and that is, before you go to bed the night before, right, go ahead and download what it is that you think you’re going to be addressing in the morning by writing it down. So, what’s interesting is if you write it down the night before, I don’t know what happens but it’s kind of this body or a mental release of, let’s not take that to bed, right. So you’ve written it down and you’ve transferred it from your head to something else.

And a really cool thing to do. Everybody gets ready in the morning and most of us, now not necessarily by the looks of things, sometimes it looks like people don’t look in the mirror while they’re getting ready, but most of us look in the mirror when you’re getting ready. Take a dry erase marker and write that list onto your mirror. So that, when you get up in the morning and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, then you’re in that Hour of Power. You’re in that time, you’re in that frame of mind prepping for the day, right. So you’ve released it so you don’t go to bed with it, but in the morning when you’re getting ready, an that particular moment, you’re kind of pre-charging yourself, right. So, you’ve charged your batteries and now turning on your day. I really like that.

Let’s talk about a couple of really good go do this today examples. One of my pet peeves, Dr. Matt is, in the grooming salons or anywhere where we have to lift a pet, and I don’t care if that pet is two pounds or that pet’s 200 pounds, I see lifting done in, oh my gosh, all kinds of different ways. And some of them, just even watching hurts my back. Let’s say … I’m a big fan of team lift. More than one person lifting an animal, lifting a dog. Maybe it’s into an elevated tub or onto a table or something like that. What can our Hey Joe! listener audience members do right now, today? Let’s say, hey, maybe we’re fortunate enough to be part of their Hour of Power. They’re listening to us on their way to work today. What can they do today to lift better?

Matt Phinney: You ask good questions. I mean, and these are the basics. I mean, a lot of times people have heard these things before but it’s, am I actually doing it? And really, the things that are easy to do, they’re also very easy to forget or to not do. So, one, I mean, key is bending at the knees. Keeping the back straight, don’t round out the back, don’t round out the spine. That’s the quickest way to blow out a disc in the lower back. You want to bend at the knees.

Assisted lifts or team lifts, I mean, super super important and there’s a lot of equipment in the grooming industry that’s available if you don’t have somebody there with you. Now especially for those bigger dogs, I mean, set the standard. Say “Hey, anything over say 30 pounds, this is going to be a team lift.” And then, there’s just no exceptions to it, this is how we do it. And again, it’s not the one-time thing but it’s, remember, it’s a cumulative thing. So it’s lifting a 30 pound dog 10 times for 30 years. That’s what’s going to cause damage. That’s what’s going to put you in a situation where then you can’t show up to work at your best every day.

Another one would be, when you are lifting, never twisting when you’re lifting. I mean, lifting straight up, come to a neutral standing, and then turning your whole body in any given direction that you need to go. One of those ways that you can really make those joints vulnerable in your spine and your body is when you lift and twist at the same time.

Again, these are refreshers. You’ve been taught this, but this is really important stuff.

Joe Zuccarello: I’m going to jump in there for just a moment. So you just brought … I have a mental picture and … So, lets draw this out for the audience. So they are, let’s say they’re getting ready to put a 20 pound dog into the tub. So they’ve walked this dog to the tub room or to the tub area and now let’s say they’ve bent with their knees and, I don’t know about you guys out there but, if you’ve not ever really tried to bend from the knees and not using your back, and bending from the waist, try it without lifting anything and just feel what that, recognize what that feels like and put that into practice before you even try to lift a dog. I will bet that most people out there, they know this, right, but they’re not practicing it.

But when you say lifting and twisting, now you’re talking about this combination action. And I see this all the time, where people will bend down … because, do they put the dog between them and the tub and then lift it? Not very often. So the dog might be standing kind of perpendicular to the tub, right. They’re maybe facing the tub. So they’ll lift the pet and then they’ll turn the top part of their body and they’ll put the dog in the tub without letting their feet catch up or the bottom half of their body kind of catch up to the top half. Before then, they extend themselves to put the dog in the tub. So, for all the Hey Joe! audience listeners out there, pay attention to this. Watch what happens when you pick up the pet. Are you lifting and twisting at the same time? Which, according to Dr. Matt, is a huge no-no.

Matt Phinney: Correct. One of the other ones I really recommend and, this is another sort of issue for a grooming professional is that … a prolonged static posture. You’re brushing and you’re scissoring. I recommend having a split stance where you’re slightly bent at the knees. Keeping your spine, so keeping that nice curve in the back. The curves in the spine are there to support, so you want to have that curve. As soon as you lose that structure, as soon as you roll forward or bend up, you’re losing all of that supporting power. So you’re actually bending at the knees in sort of a split or scissor-type stance. And then you can, depending on how high or how low you need to go, I recommend keeping your body or upper back in a nice, neutral posture and then lowing or bending to the height you need to be at using the legs, if that makes sense.

Joe Zuccarello: It makes total sense.

Matt Phinney: I don’t know if you have a visual of that. But especially if you’re in those positions for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes, the last thing you want to do is be rounded at the back, bent over, kind of hunched over the dog. Puts a tremendous amount of stress and strain on the upper back, neck and shoulders. Can lead to things like tendonitis in the shoulders and the elbows, carpal tunnel type numbness or tingling in the hand are common ones from these prolonged static positions. Headaches. Even stuff like sinus stuff, allergies. This stuff can all be affected by pressure on the nervous system in those areas and you really just want to mitigate your exposure on a daily basis.

Joe Zuccarello: One of these prolonged or static positions that is another kind of pet peeve of mine is when I walk through a grooming salon and I see that the table height … I mean, they make great tables in our business, right. They have electric tables, they have hydraulic tables, tables … Even if you can’t afford those, a lot of tables out there that are just fold-up tables have adjustable inserts for the legs, so you can make it higher or lower. Yeah, it’s a little bit more trickier or a little more effort and work to adjust the height on those before you put a pet on those, but, listen, if that’s what you can afford, you still have the ability to treat yourself well.
But one of my biggest pet peeves is that when I walk in and I watch professional groomers. And the tubs are a little bit trickier to be able to raise up and down and there are some, believe it or not, that go up and down. But most of the time they’re built in or they’re pretty well static. You can put a dog on a platform in the tub to kind of regulate its height as a relation to a person’s height. But the tables … I almost think there’s really no excuse for this. It’s just poor practice. Where the pet is at a height on the table that is not conducive or not friendly to our posture.

Matt Phinney: Correct. Getting that table height so you are in a position where your spine and your body is in a neutral, supportive posture is really important. And then you have little variations, just obviously depending on the height of the dog and the position the dog is in, but that’s where that split or that scissor stance could really really be helpful. Where you’re raising and lowering your body using your knees, which is a joint that’s designed to bend and still be in a supportive, strong position.

Joe Zuccarello: So, again, if we address lifting and we address lifting and twisting and we address proper table height, really one of the last things I wanted to kind of focus on for one minute and, of course, we could go on and on for hours and hours but, we only have our Hey Joe! listener audience attention for a certain period of time. But, another thing that I know that is healthy both mentally and physically. What is your stance or position on taking breaks?

Matt Phinney: Breaks are very important. Almost a requirement. They’re not a should but a must. It’s having some type of scheduled break. Just working that into your daily, again, rhythm and ritual, is going to determine your results. Not a should but a must. And it just it happens, and you make it happen.

Joe Zuccarello: Is it a break an hour? Is it a break every couple hours? Is there a magic formula for that?

Matt Phinney: So, I recommend doing something hourly. Now there’s different protocols about how people do just depending on their specific situation but, one of the tools I really like, especially for grooming professionals and people that are doing these kinds of physical jobs: nurses, aids, orderlies, stylists. Similar although, the people that they’re taking care of, the difference between them and say, groomers, is they don’t have to worry about a patient turning back and biting their hand. So, that’s just giving another added level of stress.

Joe Zuccarello: Most of the time, I would say that that’s true.

Matt Phinney: That groomers are dealing with. But I like … there’s protocols that will help people learn their, what I call, a trigger point ball. So, you’re getting in and finding any of those areas that are stiff, tight, sore. And you’re getting in there with this really sort of high density rubber. And I’m happy to post the link to one of the more common protocols that I use. Joe, if you’re interested, I can send it to you and you can kind of that with this podcast if you like.

But we’ll actually show people how to get in and start to loosen up some of those stiff, tight, tender, sore muscles. The equipment required is small, so it’s super affordable, super easy to do. Focusing on key areas. You don’t have to get down on the ground or anything like that. It can be done against the wall. And I’m talking like 20 to 60 seconds per position. You’re taking one to two minutes say, on an hour, in between animals just to make sure, again, you’re in that pattern of boom, boom, boom. Being able to best serve the people you’re taking care of, not only from a standpoint right then and there, but being able to do it for a long period of time.

Because you mentioned before, for a lot of people, the fur animals, fur babies, these are the most important things in their lives. And they’re really trusting, as grooming professionals, trusting us with them to do the best job we possibly can every single day that we’re showing up. And a lot of the times, I think the day-to-day stuff can really kind of bog us down, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time. But for a lot of people, this is the most important day in their animal’s two or three months. It’s the day they’re coming in to get groomed, so they’re going to look freaking fantastic for the rest of the time. You know what I’m saying?

Joe Zuccarello: Absolutely. And I will take you up on that generous offer to post that information on the paragonpetschool.com webpage, on the podcast webpage. Because I think that that, and any other tools that you might be able to provide the Hey Joe! listener audience, would just truly be a blessing, a real gift for our audience.

Let me tell you, for all of our salon owners and managers out there, daycare owners, boarding facility manager/owners, you want your team to do this. This is something that, however you can weave it into your culture, to not only be aware to health and wellness but also to practice these things. So encourage these breaks and I know, I know, I know it’s really hard right? Because we’ve got a full day and everything else but, let me tell you, if you do not put this into practice as part of your culture, you are probably rolling the dice on how long you might have a healthy workforce.

If you’re an individual out there, make sure to do it, even if you’re mobile. You know, we have a lot of mobile groomers out there, right. Take time and do these things. Mobile, I’m sure these little devices or these little tips and tricks that Dr. Matt’s going to share with us is going to be helpful.

So, Dr. Matt, we started off this whole podcast a little while ago. Time has flown by but, we started kind of talking about, not only about yourself and your profession, but also your contribution or your membership to the Wellness Champions. Give us an idea of who the Wellness Champions are. You’re obviously in the Grand Rapids area, so all of our Hey Joe! listener audience out there, unless they fly to you, they’re probably not going to all be able to come see you personally. Tell us a little bit about Wellness Champions and how the Hey Joe! listener audience can access or get access to the Wellness Champions. And what the Wellness Champions can do for them.

Matt Phinney: Cool, yeah. So, we’re a national non-profit network of docs. Really with the big goals, big vision, big purpose of providing proactive health and wellness solutions to local groups, organizations, businesses. So really essentially in a nutshell, we bring wellness solutions to the workplace. We have docs all over the world, you can find us if you want to check out our website, wellnesschampions.org. And then it’s broken down by country, by state. You can look and see if you can find somebody in your area or if you would like, I’m happy to try and find somebody if you were interested in having somebody come in and do one of these workshops, groomer-specific workshops for your team. Just to kind of really, again, create that awareness, create that culture of proactive health and wellness. Performance based but really all about longevity and staying in our careers for as long as we possibly can, being as good as we possibly can, always reaching our fullest potential.

We always, as far as lunch, we always bring lunch. It’s 100 percent free. We do it, as local docs, we do it for exposure and we want to come in contact and meet, work with people that are interested in taking care of themselves. So if you are interested, we would love to come in and do something with your team. If you want me to try and find somebody in your area that would do something similar, if you’re in the U.S. or you’re in another country, shoot us an email and we can find somebody. But you can actually go on our website and you can see if there’s a local doc in your area. If there’s not, we’ll do our best to accommodate.

Joe Zuccarello: First, you had me at bringing lunch. But you said that the actual session, is not only you’re bringing lunch but it’s also free of charge.

Matt Phinney: That’s correct.

Joe Zuccarello: I mean, everybody likes the word free. And so, again, what you’re doing is you and your group, Wellness Champions, are removing the barriers, removing the variables, to having this brought to the workplace. Really, I mean, there’s no argument now. So, all of the Hey Joe! listener audience out there, on paragonpetschool.com, on the podcast page under Dr. Matt’s podcast, you will be able to find not only the helpful tips and such links to those things that Dr. Matt talked about, but you are definitely going to have all of the contact information necessary to take him and his team at the Wellness Champions, his colleagues at the Wellness Champions, up on this phenomenal offer.

I encourage you, have them in, have them talk to you and your team. If you work for an employer, introduce them to the Wellness Champions by way of going to the paragonpetschool.com website, so that, and let them listen to Dr. Matt and let them listen to this episode. Because there are gadgets and gimmicks all day long in our industry that are geared to help us and some really do help us and some, it’s kind of arguable whether it helps us or not. But I can guarantee you that, one, you can’t beat the price. Two, you can’t beat the intent or the reasoning behind why these folks do what they do.

Dr. Matt, I know that the Hey Joe! listener audience out there is truly going to benefit by what you brought to them today. I can’t wait to hear the feedback and responses that we get from this episode. And so I want to thank you for helping us, I want to thank you for sharing this information with our audience today, and I want to thank our audience out there of Hey Joe! podcast listeners because these are some of the … In fact, Dr. Matt’s presence on our podcast was because of questions that we received from our audience out there. So if you want to have your question answered on a Hey Joe! podcast in the future, it’s really simple. Just submit your questions to heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com and you might just hear your topic discussed with an industry expert in the near future.
Dr. Matt, wow. This is golden stuff. I really do appreciate your time and we wish you the very best.

Matt Phinney: Cool, thank you for having me on Joe, I really appreciate it. And to all the listeners, thanks for hanging out with us.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is VP of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.

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