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Sitting hunched over patients’ mouths for several hours a day is extremely taxing on your body.

Dental hygienists and dentists are prone to problems as a result of poor working posture, eye strain, and unnatural hand positioning.

Regular exercise, however, can help you minimize those problems and enjoy benefits such as:

  • Greater comfort while working
  • More energy and strength to spend in recreation with your family outside of work
  • Improved health
  • Ability to work longer and avoid retiring too early
  • Ability to provide the best care to your patients

 This brief guide will help you choose an exercise regimen that will keep you active in your dental profession for as long as possible.

Why the Right Kind of Exercise Matters

Dental professionals can’t just pick any kind of exercise. Given the unique physical demands of your profession, you have to choose the right type of exercise. 

Some of your muscles work in pairs with others that serve complementary or opposite functions. You want to strengthen and improve the endurance of your stabilizing muscles which are the ones that you don’t directly engage when you work. If you only work out the muscles you always use, then the stabilizing or opposing muscles can get weak and lead to strain.

Instead, aim to build a strong core that will help you maintain good posture and focus on gradually strengthening those stabilizing muscles through gentle stretching and exercise.

Exercises for Dental Professionals

Now it’s time to consider some of your best options for getting in some healthy physical activity.

1. Chairside Stretches

All dental professionals should practice frequent and gentle stretching every day. This can be done regardless of a busy schedule or limited athletic ability. You can do stretching in the morning when you wake up, in the evening before going to sleep, during your lunch break, and in the operatory between appointments.

A few good stretches for dental professionals include:

  • Carpal tunnel wrist extension
  • Wrist extensor stretch
  • Slow neck-rolling or deep chin-nodding
  • Chest and back stretches that target the trapezius and scalene muscles

Chair-side stretches will improve flexibility and help you avoid muscle tightness.

2. Core-strengthening Exercises

Tightening up your core will prevent back injury and help you maintain proper posture while working. A few excellent core exercises include planks, crunches, leg lifts, and workouts using an exercise ball. Pay attention to your form when you work out to ensure you engage your core and don’t strain your back.

3. Cardio

Aerobic exercise is essential to heart health and reduces your risk of disease. It also improves blood flow to your muscles to keep them in optimal shape. Even if you don’t have much time for cardio workouts, remember that every little bit helps. 

Try to incorporate some aerobic activity into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park far away from the dental office so that you can get in a brisk walk on your way to and from work. Play with your kids or dogs a little more often. Dance to your favorite music while cleaning the house.

4. Pilates

Pilates is an excellent routine for boosting core strength in dental professionals. But you need to be aware that certain moves can be harmful to the muscles that dental professionals tend to overwork. Talk with an experienced Pilates instructor to find out which moves are safe for you and which to skip.

5. Barre

This ballet-inspired activity is a great way to improve flexibility and balance and strengthen your core, glutes, legs, arms, and back.

6. Yoga

Working in a dental office can get very stressful. Yoga can help you relax while gently stretching and loosening up sore muscles and making them more flexible.

7. Spin

Indoor cycling combines a low-impact cardio workout with intense core strengthening which makes it ideal for dental professionals.

Consult your doctor, a personal trainer, or a physical therapist before starting a new workout routine to ensure your exercise is safe for dental professionals like you.

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