Do you think of yourself as a dental athlete? If not, perhaps you should! Practicing dentistry is extremely taxing and demanding on our bodies, sometimes even more so than if we were playing a sport.
In dentistry, we are predisposed to holding static, awkward postures over an extended period of time. In doing so, 50% of our muscles must engage to hold our body in that motionless posture while resisting gravity. The static forces resulting from holding these postures is much more demanding on the body than dynamic forces.
So, with this knowledge, shouldn't we be preparing for work as if it were a sport? I think so. Developing a morning stretch routine before you leave for work, or even stretching in your morning huddle, will help to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare the body for the day ahead.
Frequent stretching during the day in the form of 20-30 second microbreaks will also help to relieve tension and encourage healthy blood flow back into the muscles that have been isometrically contracted. Studies show that taking these microbreaks every 20 minutes during the day greatly reduces pain and fatigue experienced by dental professionals.
Incorporating a work "cool down" in the form of stretching, foam rolling, or any other myofascial release will also help to relieve overworked muscles and increase blood flow.
As dental professionals, we are unfortunately at risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders but there are plenty of ways to prevent this, of which stretching is a part.
So the next time you work, think if yourself as an athlete about to engage in an event, because, really, that is exactly what you are.