Stabbing pain in the shoulders, headaches, rock hard upper traps. Sound familiar? Trapezius myalgia is one of the most common MSDs among dental hygienists. The upper trapezius muscles are the most frequently used muscles in dentistry, and can easily become short, tight and painful from improper ergonomics or emotional stress. Over time, this tightness can cause strain and lengthening of the lower trapezius muscles, and a myriad of neck and shoulder pain syndromes can result. This month’s exercise targets the lowertrapezius muscles, which helps correct the painful imbalance and movement dysfunction that results from tight upper trapezius muscles. The lower traps are essential shoulder girdle stabilizers in dentistry and should be a regular part of the hygienist’s exercise regimen.
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 an RDH eVillage special discount. To read articles in RDH eVillage FOCUS written by Bethany Valachi, click here. To read about ergonomics and dental hygiene, click here.