Dentists are often in the uncomfortable position of performing repetitive movements for long periods of time throughout the day. For 40 to 60% of dental professionals this will result in repetitive use injuries and Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) over the course of their career.
In order to avoid these painful limitations, we’ve put together a list of ergonomic tips to help you and your team stay healthy, happy, and growing. If you would like to take an ergonomics course, contact our ergonomics expert in California.
Stretch and Stretch Again
As you approach a busy day, make sure that you and your team take the time to get up and move. Short breaks, combined with stretching can help to mitigate the risks associated with working in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.
Address problem areas with regular stretching of the neck, shoulders, hips, back, and hands.
Avoid Neck Pain
Long periods of leaning over patients, stretching to reach tough places, or staring at a computer screen can put your neck in an unnatural position. This strain can wind up being the cause of a number of physical issues, but you can help yourself, and your team avoid them with some simple steps…
- Sit up straight with your head over your shoulders
- Keep your shoulders over your hips, with the hips resting higher than your knees in your chair
- Adjust your chair to support your back and allow your feet to rest flat on the floor
- Make sure your loupes are set to the proper declination angle (leaning the neck forward 20 degrees or more while working puts you at risk for developing neck pain)
Is That Back Pain Serious?
Sitting up straight and limiting reaching, twisting, or straining from a seated position will help alleviate any problems you may already have. Even better, if you are not experiencing any pain, these changes can help you avoid injury.
Chronic pain can be a sign of serious issues and should not be ignored. While most back pain improves with self-care and rest, obey any serious warning signs. If symptoms are severe, last more than a few weeks, and don’t improve with rest, you’ll want to seek treatment.
If you experience pain that moves down into the legs (especially below the knee), or there is weakness or numbness in the legs, call your doctor for an evaluation as soon as possible.
Be Kind to Your Hands and Wrists
An often overlooked, yet critical component to workplace health is the hands and wrists. They are the key to working with patients and we must take care to limit the risk of injury.
Fitted gloves can make a big difference when it comes to the health of your hands. The compression and restriction from an ill-fitting, ambidextrous glove alone can cause pain at the end of a long day.
Also, take care to…
- Alternate the tools you use throughout the day (switching from thicker to thinner, heavier to lighter, etc)
- Use powered instruments with the appropriate prophy angle
- Take short stretch breaks between patients
Keep a list of appropriate stretches handy for all team members. Posting this information and allowing for time in the schedule for stretch breaks throughout the day will help boost health, morale, and productivity.
Lead by example, encouraging good habits as you go. Think of posture, overall ergonomic design of the office, and pattern your behavior to show that you’ve got your team’s health in mind too.
If you’ve got questions, we have answers. Contact our ergonomics specialist in California today to learn more about ergonomic strategies that you can use to improve your own comfort and theirs!