Every job comes with its fair share of bodily hazards.
For an NFL linebacker, it could be a torn muscle. For those 9-5 desk jockeys, it’s carpal tunnel syndrome. And for a dental professional, it’s most likely your back. Let’s straighten that spine.
Dentistry is demanding on so many facets of your mind and body, and no matter how good your seated posture is, your back takes the brunt of the pressure in your hours of work hunched over the chair.
Unfortunately so much crucial work is done in an unnatural and uncomfortable position for your back. And until they invent patient chairs that rotate to you, it’s the unfortunate reality of the business we’re in.
Thankfully, there are simple ways you can fight back against your…well…back. All it requires is a little daily discipline to lengthen and strengthen your lumbar spine. And it’s not some crazy, over-the-top workout either that requires a gym membership or a zero gravity inversion table. Following are a series of five simple stretches that you can do every morning before you head to the office (or between patients) to increase blood flow, strengthen your core, and keep your back and surrounding muscles loose and happy.
Stretch #1 – The Cat Cow pose
Any yoga aficionados amongst you will likely have heard of this first exercise. It’s a great way to really stretch your spine and increase blood flow. The actual mechanics of the stretch are quite simple.
- You simply get down onto all fours (like a cat) and form a tabletop position (self-explanatory).
- Once you’re ready, push your abdomen towards the floor while extending your back and looking up towards the ceiling.
- After a few seconds, bring your head back down towards your neck and arch your back up towards the ceiling.
Do this for a couple minutes and you’ll be loosened right up.
Stretch #2 – Superman pose
Up in the sky – it’s a bird, it’s a plane… you get it. More accurately, the Superman pose. This is a common back and abdominal exercise, meant to strengthen your upper back and take the pressure off your spine.
- To execute the stretch, lie face down on the floor with your stomach supporting your weight.
- Breathe in and lift everything off the floor besides your belly all at once. That means your legs, arms, chest, and head.
- Your arms should be at a 90 degree angle in front of you, with your legs and feet kicked straight back, elevated about six inches off the ground. It should look as though you’re attempting to fly through the air like, you guessed it, Superman.
Come in and out of this position as many times as you can tolerate for three sets. It will help build up the muscles in your back and, as an added bonus, tone up your abs and glutes.
Stretch #3 – Pectoral and back stretch
All you need for this one is a door, which means you can do this in any dental office, home, or really any building.
- With the door open, put your hands up at 90 degree angles on either side of the doorframe.
- Bring one leg behind you so you’re in a staggered but balanced stance.
- Standing up as tall as you can, lean forward on that front leg, pushing all your weight in that direction.
If you’re doing it correctly you should feel a nice stretch through the front of your chest. Hold this pose for about 20 seconds.
Stretch #4 – Chin tucks
Pain in your back inevitably causes pain in other parts of your body. One of the biggest victims is your neck, which takes on a lot of the strain from a hunched back. To remedy this, try chin tucks. This exercise couldn’t be any easier. You can literally do it sitting down.
- Merely take a seat in a chair with a backrest and sit up as straight as you can.
- Looking forward, take two fingers and push your chin down towards your neck while holding your back straight.
Do this as many times as you need without causing pain to yourself. It’s a nice way to get some knots out of that neck.
Stretch #5 – Life extension
Don’t worry—this stretch isn’t as drastic as the name would indicate. It’s actually a very simple way to stretch out your chest and strengthen the muscles in your back.
- Just stand up straight with your chest proudly puffed out and your shoulders/back relaxed.
- Do your best Fonzy impression and put both thumbs out.
- Raise your arms up over your head in a Y-shape with your thumbs facing behind you
Breathe in and out and hold this posture for a few seconds.
That’s it! A few easy stretches that only take a couple of minutes of your time and make life a whole lot easier on your lumbar. Hope these help save your back so you can give the best care to your patients and live a more comfortable life.
Healthline. Kyphosis. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/kyphosis-exercises#exercises-to-try
Healthshots. Hunchback. https://www.healthshots.com/fitness/staying-fit/6-exercises-to-get-rid-of-a-hunchback/
Ravenswood. 3 simple stretches. https://www.rennwellness.com/chiropractic/three-simple-stretches-help-improve-hunchback-posture.html