RDH eVillage FOCUS Exercise of the Month for August 2013

This month’s exercise, provided by Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS, targets the lower abdominal muscles. Research shows, according to Valachi, that proper strengthening of these muscles can significantly reduce low back pain in many people.

Abdominal Exercise1 Fo

VIDEO: Lower Abdominal Exercise

Dentistry requires a special type of exercise called muscular endurance training. When you are in the operatory, you are constantly asking your core muscles to contract at a low level for long periods of time. For this reason, you should train them accordingly—for endurance, not strength.

This exercise targets the lower abdominal muscles. The slower you perform this exercise, the more you are training your muscles specifically for the job of dental hygiene!!

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor and head on a small pillow. Place your hands under your low back and pull navel toward your spine. You should now feel your back pressing into your hands. Be sure that you maintain this contraction throughout the exercise and do not arch your back, which may cause strain or injury. Lift one leg until the hip is at 90 degrees. (Photo 1A)

Photo 1A

Continue breathing while slowly straightening the leg (Photo 1B). Lightly touch the floor, hold, then return the leg to 90 degree position. Repeat with the same leg 5-10 times.


Photo 1B

Make sure your neck stays relaxed throughout the exercise. Only straighten your leg out as far as you can without arching your back off the floor. This exercise focuses on the lower abdominal muscles. Strengthening these muscles helps to protect and stabilize the low back, as well as prevent back pain. Now repeat the exercise with the opposite leg.

Advanced version: Once you’ve mastered this exercise, you may want to try the advanced version. Pull navel to spine and bring both legs to 90 degrees. Slowly straighten the right leg, without letting it touch the floor. Return it to the 90 degree position, then straighten the left leg without letting it touch the floor. Repeat 10-20 times. Make sure back stays on floor and your neck is relaxed.

View original video: Why Hygienists Require Specific Exercise

Read more about preventing low back pain in dentistry.

Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS, is a physical therapist, dental ergonomic consultant, and CEO of Posturedontics, a company that provides research-based education. Clinical instructor of ergonomics at OHSU School of Dentistry, Valachi lectures internationally at dental meetings, schools, and study clubs. She covers 24 exercises for dental professionals in her new research-based exercise DVD, “Smart Moves for Dental Professionals On the Ball” Home Exercise DVD, available at www.posturedontics.com. Also included in the DVD kit are exercises that dental hygienists should avoid. Enter Discount Code OTB2013 upon checkout to receive RDH eVillage special discount.

To read articles written in RDH eVillage FOCUS written by Bethany Valachi, click here.

To read more about ergonomics and dental hygiene, click here.

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