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Maintain your detailing tools – especially your most important one!


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!

Todd Cooperider Esoteric Auto Detail
Todd Cooperider
Esoteric Auto Detail
Columbus, Ohio

10 comments on Maintain your detailing tools – especially your most important one!

  1. Kody says:

    This is really hitting home for me Todd, I have a ruptured disc in my lower back. It’s comes in contact with the S1 (I think) nerve and makes my left leg numb at times. I’ve had this problem for years. I should have did the surgery last year, but I am DEFINITELY doing it this year. I work 60-70 hours a week between my full-time job and detailing, so needless to say I’m in pain 24/7.

    What surgery did you have? I think the surgeon said I will need a microdiscectomy.

  2. Robert Geco says:

    My first back surgury was H!!!! on earth they released me too soon and thanks to my aunt she put me in a hotel with cattered to handy cap people. I had before I left the hospital three epiderals after that 6. I went for PT pool and land therophy listened to my instructures. the pain still keep comming at me with avenence. I went back to the surggeent who took some xray . The xrays showed the graph was detererating and that a second surgury was going to be need if I planed on walking up right. My hole back had atherites and the left side was screwedd up becase of a mild waaaalenburg strock I had 5 year beforethe surgury.
    The second surgury was well planed out by my heart doctor , my polminary doctor at ceders and my main provider my best doctoe Dr aftergood. This thime thier wood be no mistakes I even got the same
    person who was my anesteolligist. When I wook up I did not have a problem going to the bath room I had the tube down my through , but was able to cclearrrly write down thaat I was have probles with it breathing. It was removved with in 5 minutes . I got the best care at ceders Cini hospital from ICU to the 8 floor all was good I was even able to take my own showers in this room with their special steep seat.
    I left knowing I still would not be able to run ride a bike all I cared about was my German Sheppard and being abble to walk him. Insted of PT I started on accuputurre for my left leg and left thigh.
    I am feeling 80% bettter I have had some local epiderals but not the amount that I had before. I do not know what ewent wrong the second time was a charm. I can wash and polish my two cars if I take my time. I often have to laugh about my self calling my self the Tim Taylor of hospitals. I am only fortunate to be alive ans injoy the simple things , I keep intouch with my doctors and make my routine appointments to keep them up to date on my condition. I say if this is the worst lifee can through at me . I am dam lucky.
    Bob Geco
    Long Beach, CA USA

  3. Bob B says:

    Hi Todd: I am glad that you took care of your back, I wish you a fast and speedy recovery. I am happy that this condition does not affect your writing. You will get back to detailing in a few weeks.
    Take care .

  4. vince BASILE says:

    Hi Todd: All the best in your recovery with

    Physical Therapy and Porcupine Tree.

    Kind Regards,

    Vince Basile
    AutOstetx Inc.
    Markham, Ontario

  5. pete b says:

    I wish you a speedy recovery Todd…

  6. Chris larson says:

    Hi Todd,
    Sorry to here you where in all that pain.Sounds like you are on the mend.I know back pain all to well myself.


  7. Mike Cardenas says:

    It sounds silly, but I always stretch in the morning before I tackle on my project for the day and do so throughout the day occasionally. Detailing is definitely physically demanding at times, and even more so when we are constantly hunched over an engine bay or a hood of a car. I’ve been guilty of overworking myself in the past on a car for a client, and have done so without giving my health a second thought. This article is great advice! Although as detailers we capable of doing some amazing things, we should always consider our physical well-being during the process. Fantastic article Todd!!!

  8. Ray Scott says:

    I am 68 and suffer from back pain after detailing a vehicle especially small sports cars where there is not much room. I usually get it fixed by my chiropractor and after a day I feel fine. I had a cycling accident 2 months ago and broke my pelvis, left hand and some ribs. That put me out of bus for a few months but my loyal customers waited for my return. I just finished my 10th vehicle and need to go back to my chiropractor not for the inury I suffered but because I tried to play catch up. Stretching is a good idea as I do it for cycling and stretch throughout the day when I am detailing. Good luck with your recovery Todd as no one knows how painful back pain is until they go through it.

  9. Tony Kiger says:

    Even at my young age, 27 I still have to stretch throughout the detail of any car. Sometimes I get to into one, but will soon start feeling a stiff neck or back, and then its time to take a break and stretch. Glad to hear you are recovering well Todd, best wishes go out.

  10. Howard says:

    What do many of you Detailer’s do for your hands. I have used a D/A a few times, and the rotation of those can definitely make your arms, hand’s, and muscles tired. Maybe we should all talk to the guys who do construction with jackhammer’s. I guess we can’t complain compared to that.

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