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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?


    Tight hamstrings can flatten your back

    Seated hamstring stretchSeated hamstring stretchIn seated occupations such as dentistry, where you sit with the knees in a flexed position, tight hamstrings can actually flatten or reverse your low-back curvature. What can you do? Stretch your hamstrings — both chairside and at home (Stokes, Abery 1980).

    • Extend one leg until knee is straight.

    • Keep back straight and lift chest up.

    • Pivot forward from the hips until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh.

    • Hold for 30-40 seconds.

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    Sit-ups may be damaging

    Full sit-ups were a cornerstone of fitness regimens for decades in the 1960s-1980s. Luckily, the healthcare system ‘woke up’ and realized this prescription may be damaging the backs of many people — not improving their health. You are actually strengthening the hip flexor muscles during the last half of this exercise. 

    A healthier alternative is a partial crunch, where only the shoulder blades (or one shoulder blade) are lifted off the floor and briefly held. This produces plenty of resistance for the abdominal muscles without creating strain on the low back (McGill 2002).

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    External rotation exerciseExternal rotation exerciseElastic band or dumbbells?

    I’m often asked by male dentists if dumbbells give them a better workout than elastic bands. The answer is a resounding no. In fact, the muscle activation obtained by both are comparable (Andersen, Andersen 2010). So, feel free to mix it up for variety if you’d like. You should, however, progress from lighter resistance bands (yellow) to higher resistance bands (red) when the exercise feels too easy.  

    For more ways to balance your musculoskeletal health, check out Dr. Valachi's Home Exercise for Dental Professionals exercise program. Use code OTB2018 to receive a discount. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/HomeExerciseDentists.





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    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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