A Dentist’s Guide to Body Mobility

How You Can Reduce Occupational Injury

As dental professionals, most of us have been taught, reminded, or even reprimanded about the care of our bodies while at work. Posture, ergonomics, and equipment were topics likely reviewed in dental school and remain in the back of our minds as we practice. However, the responsibility to take care of our bodies while at or away from work is an individual choice, and we live with the consequences and rewards of our actions.

A Dentist's Guide to Body Mobility 1

Section 1 —Mobility and Strengthening Exercises

1. Isometric retraction/elongation
Lie on your back without a pillow under your head (Step 1). Tuck your chin (see down arrow) into press the back of your head flat on the floor (or into a bed) and pull yourself taller as if something attached to the top rear portion of your head is pulling (see right arrow) to elongate your neck (Step2). Return to the initial position and repeat. Perform this exercise for three (3) sets of 10 repetitions. This can also be performed while seated, such as against the headrest in a car on the way to/from work; however, for best results perform in a supine position. 

The responsibility to take care of our bodies while at or away from work is an individual choice.

A Dentist's Guide to Body Mobility 2

2. Thoracic extension mobility
Place a foam roller on the floor and lie on your back with your knees bent and the foam roller at the level of your shoulder blades. With your arms behind your head for support, lower your head and shoulders as close as you can to the floor until you feel a stretch behind your back. This can be performed segmentally by moving the placement of the foam roller 1–2 inches up and down the spine between the level of the shoulder blades down to the mid back. You can also work the foam roller up and down your back in smooth motions for a more massage-like effect. If your foam roller is below the level of your ribs, you’ve gone too far.

We live with the consequences and rewards of our actions.

3. Cat and dog stretch
Start on all fours with your back straight, hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. To do the “dog stretch,” slowly inhale and let the belly fall toward the floor to arch the back downward and extend the head upward at the same time. Try to create as much of a “U” shape as possible between the pelvis and head (Step 1). To do the “cat stretch,” slowly exhale, round the back upward, and tuck the chin to the chest (Step 2). Alternate between these two positions slowly. You should be feeling this motion as a “rolling” of the pelvis and as an arching of the spine in both “cat” and “dog” motions.