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Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, DPT, MS, CEAS is DPR’s ergonomics editor and author of the book,“Practice Dentistry Pain-Free” and clinical instructor of ergonomics at OHSU School of Dentistry in Portland, Ore. She is also the author of the evidence-based "Online Dental Ergonomic & Wellness System for Dental Professionals." A physical therapist who has worked exclusively with dental professionals for more than 15 years, she is recognized internationally as an expert in dental ergonomics, and has been invited to lecture at more than 300 conferences worldwide. She has published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed dental journals and has developed patient positioning and exercise DVDs specifically for dental professionals. Bethany offers free newsletters, articles, videos and product reviews on her website at www.posturedontics.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Particular exercises may relieve certain physical complications from dental practice.
Exercise regimens should differ slightly depending upon your age. As we grow older, we tend to lose more muscle mass. Therefore, people under age 50 should consider an exercise regimen that consists of a higher percentage of aerobic exercise and smaller percentage of strength training. After age 50, the percentage of time spent strength training should be greater than aerobic exercise.
Studies show that a regular aerobic exercise regimen:
To be considered aerobic, an exercise must utilize oxygen to maintain a heart rate for a prolonged period of time through rhythmic and regular joint movement of the large muscle groups. The three primary goals of an aerobic conditioning program are to:
In addition, aerobic exercise may decrease muscle imbalances of the neck and shoulders by encouraging correct use of the diaphragm and other primary respiratory muscles while maintaining excellent posture during exercise. Proper diaphragmatic breathing will help relax scalene and anterior neck musculature with aerobic activity.
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Dental professionals should keep in mind two important guidelines when selecting their aerobic activities:â¨
There are many good exercises that activate the upper trapezius musclesL
Strength training is an especially important component of exercise programs for dental professionals over the age of 50. However, you should ensure you are strengthening the correct muscles, and not worsening the muscle imbalances to which dental professionals are uniquely predisposed. Read more about a customized strengthening program developed specifically for dental professionals.