Exercise of the Month for July 2013

This month’s exercise, provided by Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS, teaches you how to safely move away from the backrest of a stool whenever you must view a difficult area of the mouth.  It uses the deep trunk stabilizing muscles (your natural backbelt) to stabilize and protect the low back.

Pivot Exercise Fo

VIDEO: Dental Operator Pivot Exercise

Over half of the hours you spend in the hygiene operatory, you are not leaning on the backrest of your stool. And whenever you do have to leave the support of your backrest to view an area of the mouth, our natural inclination is to bend at the waist. This places unsafe pressures on the spinal discs, migrating them posteriorly, predisposing them to degeneration, bulging and herniation. This month introduces a safer way to sit whenever you are not in contact with the backrest of your stool, and helps you protect and stabilize your lumbar spine.

Sit on an exercise ball, slightly front of center, or on a chair. Place two fingers just above the bony landmarks on the front of your pelvis with thumbs wrapped around the back of the hips. Exhale. Using the abdominal muscles below the belly button, pull your navel toward your spine. You should feel a strong contraction underneath your fingers if you are performing this correctly. Hold this contraction throughout all repetitions of this exercise. Maintaining your low back curve, and pivot slowly forward from the hips. Keep breathing, and slowly return to your optimal posture. Again, pivot forward at the hips, maintaining your abdominal contraction, and slowly return to the upright position. Complete 5-10 pivots.

This exercise strengthens the abdominal, hip, and low back stabilizing muscles as well as reminds the hygienist to pivot from the hips, not the waist to gain better visibility. Remember that bending at the waist places tremendous strain on the low back muscles, ligaments and discs and contributes to low back pain. Poor posture is the No. 1 cause of back pain in the U.S. Also, always utilize the backrest of your chair whenever possible to rest your back muscles.

View original video: Why Hygienists Require Specific Exercise

Read more about proper stool adjustment in the hygiene operatory.

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

To read about ergonomics and dental hygiene, click here.

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