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    8 things dental professionals need to know about exercise

    The exercises that work for the average person can be damaging to a dental professional’s health —but do you know which ones are dangerous?

    As I have discussed in previous articles, dental professionals are prone to unique muscle imbalances and require corrective exercise to prevent pain and injury and ensure a long career. Certain exercises that aren’t a problem for the general public can throw dentists into the ‘vicious pain cycle.’ 

    The research on exercise is constantly evolving. Let’s take a look at some interesting exercise facts that dentists may want to consider when selecting an exercise program.

    A Swiss exercise ball is an effective exercise aid that decreases pain 

    Studies show that exercises performed on the Swiss ball elicit more muscle activity than when performed on a stable surface (Duncan 2009). Also, the exercise ball has been shown to be a very effective tool in rehabilitating low back pain (Marshall 2006). What’s more, the exercise ball is an inexpensive and easy way to perform effective workouts in the comfort of your own home.

    Trending article: The top exercises that can worsen dental professionals' health

    SidebendSide-lift exerciseStretching improves strength

    Believe it or not, it’s true — static stretching leads to better strength and endurance, which improves specific exercise performance, per a Louisiana State University study. Of course, stretching won’t take the place of resistance training or aerobics, but it does show benefits on a much smaller scale (Kokkonen, Nelson 2007). Having said that, whether performed before, during or after vigorous exercise, stretching does not appear to reduce post exercise soreness (Herbert, Noronha, et al. 2011).

    Crossfit and injuries

    Surprisingly, the rate of injuries in Crossfit is comparable to Olympic weightlifting, distance running, track and field, rugby or gymnastics (Meyer 2017; Montalvo 2017). In other words, this is not an appropriate exercise regimen for beginners! 

    For dentists who are prone to imbalances, several exercises must be removed for safety, including the deadlift, which is a ballistic move and requires a great deal of core stability and correct technique to be performed safely.

    Related reading: Two exercises that can help keep dental professionals pain-free

    Lumbar stabilization exerciseLumbar stabilization exercisePilates and low-back pain 

    A study of patients with chronic low-back pain found that the Pilates program did not improve functionality or pain levels any better than traditional lumbar stabilization exercises (Pereira, Obara 2011). In fact, many Pilates moves can actually worsen existing muscle imbalances in dental professionals, including lifting the head off the floor for long periods of time and reaching overhead to push/pull.

    Exercise can prevent back and neck pain

    In a study evaluating different preventive interventions for back and neck pain, (including ergonomics, lumbar supports, exercise and education), only specific exercises provided enough evidence to conclude that they are an effective preventive intervention (Linton, vanTulder 2001). Stabilizing exercises focused on improved muscular endurance is particularly protective against low back pain (McGill 2002). 


    Continue to page two for more...

    Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS
    Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, DPT, MS, CEAS is DPR’s ergonomics editor and author of the book,“Practice Dentistry Pain-Free” and clinical ...


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