The research on exercise is constantly bringing us new information, which means that the specific exercise needs of dental professionals must also be updated and addressed. This is why I have completely re-written and re-shot the Home Exercise DVD for Dental Professionals.
Unfortunately, many generic and commercial-driven programs are still advocating techniques and regimens that can be harmful to dental professionals' health. Let's take a look at what the most revealing studies from recent years are telling us:
|Side Lift Exercise (from the New On the Ball Home Exercise DVD)|
Swiss Exercise Ball: 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 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.
Stretching Improves Strength? You've got to be kidding! Believe it or not, it's true--static stretching leads to better strength and endurance, which improved specific exercise performance, according to 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 (Herber, Noronha, et al. 2011).
|Lumbar Stabilization Exercise (From New On the Ball Home Exercise DVD)|
Pilates & 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.
How Effective is Exercise in Preventing Back & Neck Pain? VERY! 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) This is why our new Home Exercise DVD teaches muscular endurance training and is a cornerstone of our injury prevention education.
Tight Hamstrings can Flatten your Back-
In seated occupations, such as dentistry, where you sit with the
|Seated Hamstring Stretch (from New On the Ball Home Exercise DVD) |
knees in a flexed position, tight hamstrings can actually flatten or reverse your low back curvature! Those who have attended my lecture or read Chapter 2 of my book understand the potential damage that can result. 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.
Sit-ups May be Damaging Full sit-ups were a cornerstone of fitness regimens for decades in the 1960-80s. 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).
External Rotation Exercise
(from New On the Ball Home Exercise DVD)
Elastic Band or Dumbbells - I'm often asked by male dentists if dumbbells don't 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.
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