Chronic pain appears early in dental careers and can be prevented
By Amber Auger, RDH, MPH
The benefits of exercise have shown to significantly improve overall health. A few of the numerous benefits include controlled weight, combating health conditions and diseases, improvement of mood, increase of energy, and promoting deeper sleep.(1) Chronic musculoskeletal pain appears early in dental careers and can be prevented with proper exercise and diet. Having a stable core can promote better posture, which allows clinicians to reduce their risk of lower back pain and back injury.
The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) reported that over 70% of dental students had neck, shoulder, and back pain within the third year of dental school.(2) Musculoskeletal pain is a common chronic pain of dental professionals and leads to serious physical disability.(2) Investing in our physical health is essential to our longevity in the operatory.
Read Part 1 | Tips for a healthy lifestyle in and out of the operatory
When weak core muscles are present, slouching is common. Having a healthy posture not only improves the longevity of the clinician but promotes proper use of armamentarium such as loupes and saddle stools. Increasing abdominal strength allows spinning to have less pressure and wear, while easing breathing.(3)
Fitness classes such as Pilates and yoga will help create a stable core.(4) Apps such as Sworkit and Daily Ab Workout are free and will provide a customized abdominal workout. Personally, after investing twenty minutes of abdominal work, five days a week for two weeks, I felt a difference in my posture. Creating a stable core will promote correct posture of chest and shoulders.(4)
There is no supplement to a healthy lifestyle in regards to the longevity of the practicing clinician. The investment of time and energy into a fitness routine will increase the happiness of the clinician, increase energy, and prevent disease and injury while adding value to the experience of the patient. Being an active, healthy clinician will promote the same lifestyle in our co-workers and patients.
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- Mayo Clinic. “Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity.” Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389?pg=2. Accessed July 26, 2016.
- Rising, et al. JADA. “Reports of body pain in a dental student population.” Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.14219/jada.archive.2005.0032. Accessed July 26, 2016.
- Harvard Health. “The real-world benefits of strengthening your core.” Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-real-world-benefits-of-strengthening-your-core. Accessed July 26, 2016.
- WebMD. “What is Pilates?” Available at: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/what-is-pilates. Accessed July 26, 2016.