Within many of our articles here on the Ask A Pro blog, we have stressed the importance of properly taking care of your wash mitts, towels, pads, tools, etc. Proper care will ensure that you maximize the life of the products / tools, and it will also help you to provide a higher quality service.
But there’s one that we haven’t spent much time discussing, and it happens to be the absolute most important of them all…YOUR BODY!
Detailing is very hard work, and I know of many detailers who will regularly work 10-12 hour days on a consistent basis. We all talk about how tiring it can be, but that stiffness and soreness can sometimes lead to bigger issues if we’re not maintaining ourselves properly.
Sure, there’s stretching and eating properly, but there’s also the need for rest to heal if you’re constantly sore and / or tired.
The bending, squatting, and lifting can really beat you up. And when you think about hours and hours of bending over a hood while applying lots of pressure…this can really cause problems in your hamstrings, lower back, and shoulders.
So when our polishers start acting up, we immediately send them in to be fixed. When our pads get worn, we replace them. When our detailing vehicles break down, we have them repaired. But when our bodies are telling us there’s a problem, do we react as quickly? I’d say more often than not, we fail to react when our bodies get beat up, and they are much more important than a buffer!
Back in February of 2012, my lower back started to act up (again). I just woke up one day and it was really stiff…there was nothing in particular that I could attribute it to. I had lower back pains over the years (especially when spending marathon sessions leaning over a hood), and they usually went away after a week or so. This one however was different.
I immediately sought care from my family doctor, and she thought that it was a simple strain. She told me to take it easy for a while, but several days later I flew to Florida for a 5-day detailing marathon (11 cars) with my good buddy DJ Mayo. Needless to say, I was hurting quite badly!
Time went on, and the back didn’t get any better. I just “dealt” with it and thought it would get better all on its own. A month or two went by (all while doing major paint correction detailing), and finally I thought I had better do something about it. I went to the chiropractor, and after a handful of sessions he referred me back to my doctor. I went in for x-rays, and it showed nothing. Given that, I was sent to Physical Therapy. Now 4 months into the major back problems, I started going to PT, and it wasn’t getting any better.
Fast forward a few weeks and it all snapped with pain so bad that I ended up taking a few trips to the hospital. I then realized that I was in a bit of trouble. Finally, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who ordered up an MRI where we discovered that I had a badly herniated disc. Had I known this a long time ago, I could have gotten it taken care of and saved myself a lot of pain and agony.
So a long story short, I had back surgery at the end of July to fix the problem…5 months after the back pain started. It is now 2 weeks since I had the surgery, and I feel fantastic. If you saw me walking around, you’d never know that I just went under the knife.
Now I have another 4-6 weeks of recovery before I can do any detailing, but in the meantime I have a great group of employees and friends that will take up the slack.
Needless to say, I will pay MUCH closer attention to what my body is telling me in the future. I know that lower back problems are very common in this field of work, so if you do this for a living, be very careful in how you treat your body!
The lessons that I learned were pretty simple: (1) Seek medical advice right away when your body is giving you feedback, and be sure to follow the advice, and (2) if you’re following the advice and it’s still not getting better, don’t hesitate to take whatever steps necessary to get it resolved.
So be sure to take care of yourself as well (preferably better) as you do your tools. If you’re not healthy, no tool in your box will help you!