How to avoid work-related pain and extend your dental career, Issue 1

As a dental professional, you likely experience some type of work-related pain, from numb fingers to a stiff neck. But you don’t have to practice in pain.

As a dental professional, you likely experience some type of work-related pain, from numb fingers to a stiff neck. But you don’t have to practice in pain.

In this new column, Rick Williamson of Body Praxis tells us how the right type of exercise and his Body Praxis program can help you prevent and reduce pain, and how making the right changes can lead to a long, pain-free career.

“How much longer will I be able to practice?”

Have you ever asked yourself this question because you suffer from back, neck, shoulder, arm pain, tingling and numbness in fingers and hands? You are not alone.

Research shows that more than 80% of dental professionals suffer from pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders caused by the demands of their profession and 70% of dental students suffer from these same conditions by their senior year.

How Body Praxis can help

The Body Praxis Program was developed out of a continuing idea to help dentists and hygienists prevent, correct, overcome and manage these disorders.  

Since 2002 the Body Praxis team has successfully rehabilitated numerous dentists and hygienists from the pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders and created a proven, professionally developed rehabilitation program designed to target pain symptoms commonly experienced as a result of workplace ergonomics, poor posture and repetitive movement patterns.

These regularly occurring conditions, if ignored, can cause cumulative physiological damage that may lead to a career-ending injury.

Similarly to a professional athlete, the dental professional needs to understand how rigorous physical strains and repetitive movements lead to muscle imbalances, postural dysfunction, and compensatory movement patterns.

Overused muscles fatigue while underused muscles fail to properly support the spine and extremities. Fortunately, the pain and discomfort of dentistry is avoidable. Like the athlete, the dental professional needs to train his or herself physically to prevent and reduce pain.

Unfortunately if muscle imbalances and compensatory movement patterns already exist, general exercises can be detrimental. They tend to only reinforce faulty movements and imbalances.

Without focused and specific movement re-education, the strong and overused muscles and systems will be further strengthened while the neglected musculature will remain weak.                                                                                                                

Biomechanical re-education must be introduced and occupational, recreational and daily activities must be taken into account. Oppositional movement patterns must be created to counteract imbalances and common repetitive positions. 

The importance of muscle recruitment, balance, spine segmental mobility, stabilization and breathing techniques need to be properly learned to restore function and alleviate pain.

We advocate the introduction of these specific programs as early as dental school. 

A strong emphasis on a daily commitment to the Body Praxis program will provide career sustainability and contribute to overall wellness.

There are also plenty of dental products designed to make practicing more comfortable. Watch this video to learn about the ergonomic A-dec 400 combined delivery system:

How it works

Body Praxis uses advanced techniques and Pilates principles to explore self-postural assessment, positioning, stabilization, and realignment to ensure correct biomechanical alignment when sitting, standing and reaching.

These are accomplished through Body Praxis Key Concepts. These Key Concepts are defined as:

  • Postural and Spacial Awareness

  • Breathing Techniques

  • Spine Segmental Mobility

  • Engage Disengage Techniques

These Key Concepts are used in a specific method to prevent and correct the following conditions: 

  • Repetitive Movements

  • Cumulative Negative and Positive

  • Bad Ergonomics

  • Right vs. Left Hand Asymmetry

  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

  • Shoulder Elevation Syndrome

  • Vertical Axis misalignment

  • Developmental Spine Convexity

These are the conditions that cause pain and impact your career longevity, financial, and quality of life. We will explore each of the above conditions in more detail in future articles.

In our seminars we illustrate each of these points to help you better understand the causes of your pain.

We also explore a training regimen designed to address specific back, neck, shoulder, hip, and arm pain, as well as other injuries common to the dental profession caused by repetitive workplace positions and movements.


Want more?

These techniques and the tools needed are taught in seminars. 

Seminars can be arranged by calling Body Praxis 716-639-0200. You also can visit for details.