Did you know awkward and prolonged postures are the greatest culprits for the deterioration of dentist’s musculoskeletal health? Even when seated in “perfect” seated posture, sustained muscle contractions can lead to muscle pain. Chairside stretching is imperative for the health and career longevity of dentists. Research reveals that taking frequent breaks and moving are integral to an effective injury prevention program and pain control in dentistry. So what chairside exercises can be done to prevent muscle tightness, injury and improve flexibility?
- Seated Hamstring Stretch – tight hamstrings contribute to back flattening and lower back pain
- Neck Rotations – stretching the upper trapezius is critical for dental professionals who spend hours of the day with the neck in flexion
- Wrist Extension/Flexion – dental professionals are subject to forceful, sustained or repetitive thumb abduction and angling of the hand during extractions, scaling, suctioning, etc
- Hip stretch – the piriformis muscle is responsible for externally rotating the hip and can easily become tight in the operatory when sitting for long periods of time
In general, dentists, hygenists, and assistants tend to lose flexibility in those directions opposite to which they are postured statically during the day. So it’s vital to take short, frequent breaks and reverse your operator position with chairside stretching!
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