For Dental Professionals
Less pain, better life
As dental professionals, you are striving to help your dental patients have the best dental health, and nicest smile, with the least pain.
But in striving for that auspicious goal, the dental professionals expose themselves to a lot of pain, discomfort and tightness. But why do you suffer from these consequences? There is a lot of time spent in a seated position, with your head turned. That leads to problems. In my nearly 30 year fitness career, I have performed over 63,000 training sessions. Many of those sessions have been with dental professionals. I believe the reasons for that are; dentists, like trainers, deal in prevention, need stress relief, and they have to work. Again, like trainers, we need to be at work helping others, to make our living.
This section is going to teach you how to reduce/eliminate tightness, stress and pain. There are concepts here that you can implement, simply and safely, today! These solutions are time efficient and effective.
Prevent and relieve pain
In the name of prevention, don't chase pain. Pain is not necessarily where the cause of that pain originates. An example would be low back pain. So if you treated the back with meds or therapy, you still wouldn't have gotten to the cause.
The human body is designed to have a mobile joint over a stable joint; feet (stable), ankle (mobile), knees (stable), hips (mobile), low back (stable), thoracic spine (mobile)- you get the idea. So the key is to keep the mobile joint mobile. That way the stable joints don't suffer the consequences.
Soft tissue work, or active release therapy, is a tool that will bring relief to pain and tightness. Muscles are structured to contract upon themselves, which pulls on tendons (that attach muscles to bones), that pull on bones to create movement. Sometimes muscles stay partially contracted (muscle "knots"). Utilizing a tennis ball on the bottoms of your feet, or foam rollers/ massage sticks to your muscles, will help the muscles go back to their uncontracted, relaxed state.
Neck pain solutions
As for your neck pain-
Head forward posture (reading, computer work, driving, working on patients), excessive rotation (patients), tight shoulders, and lazy posture.
Isometric cervical exercise, kettlebell halos, and lat activation (horizontal, across, and high pull aparts).
Back pain solutions
For your back pain:
Tight hips, weak core, too much sitting, pelvic misalignment, and poor posture.
Activate the glutes (glute bridges- 1 and 2 leg, w/adduction activation and pelvic floor activation), stretch hip flexors (standing quad stretch with forward lean, and standing calf stretch with glute contraction), rotational hip work (hip crossovers).
The mindset should shift from rehabilitating injuries, to performing prehab exercises. You do that by preventing problems from occuring in your shoulders, low back and hips. Working on the aforementioned exercises, and strengthening your core are the solutions.
Core is quite often misunderstood. Core doesn't just mean your abs. The core is made up of your trunk (from the scapula), through your upper thighs. The core is your foundation. Core/ abdominal musculature works harder preventing movement, or bracing, then they do creating movement (example- crunches). An excellent core strengthener is the pillar bridge/ plank. The plank is a suspension bridge with no support beams in the middle. So the abdominals, low back, glutes and hip flexors have to work hard to brace, and prevent movement or sagging.
Metabolic circuits, interval work, & time efficient exercise
Another part of prevention is exercise. But with such a busy schedule, it has to fit into your lifestyle. Here are a few important pieces of information for you, when getting back into it-
-Build an aerobic base. That means building up to performing a half hour of continuous, moderate intensity work.
-Use different modes of cardiovascular work; loaded vs. unloaded work, impact vs. non impact work. Loaded- on your feet (treadmill, stairmaster, elliptical). Unloaded- (biking, rowing, upper body ergometer). Impact- running. Non impact- all others.
Approach cardiovascular work with the same mentality as progressive resistance training. That means there are intense days and recovery days. That also means you should work for progression in your cardio work, based on your heart rate. To find out your individualized training heart rate, seek out a trainer. If you want to test yourself, first get a heart rate monitor (www.polar.fit). Then on a treadmill, gradually increase the speed each minute, and track your heart rate response. If you are walking, or running, as quickly as you can and you still don't feel like you're near your maximum heart rate, use the elevation. Keep your speed and elevation increases consistent. Which means raise your speed/elevation by 1/2 or 1 at each minute interval. Once you've attained your sub maximal (8 or 9 out of a 10), bring the treadmill to your beginning speed for two minutes.
Take note of how well your heart rate recovered, from your near maximum effort, to that two minute recovery. That recovery number is very important. You can use your heart rate during your workouts, both intense and recovery workouts, to keep you on track, and safe.
Think about your training in a functional, rather than isolution, manner. Isolation is how we used to train years ago, by body parts (chest, shoulders, triceps, back, quads, hamstrings, calves, forearms, traps, abs). This takes way too long, and is to trying on your body. Functional training focuses on trying to use the fewest movements, and involve everything. This is not only time efficient, it's easier on your Central Nervous System, and it prepares you better for what you have to do, and like to do. Functional is how your body moves in life. When I train people, I think in concepts of movements (upper and lower body pushing and pulling, abdominal linear and rotational work), rather than isolation. There is also aerobic benefit to functional training. Your heart doesn't know if it's on a treadmill, or doing pushups. The heart just knows that it's being asked for oxygenated blood. So our job is to use full body movements, linked together, to create that high heart rate rise.
Example: perform 10 of the following- pushups, dumbbell rows, body weight squats, and then hold the plank for 60 seconds. Believe me, you're heart rate will elevate! That's how you combine movements and concepts, to be time efficient, effective, and safe.
Advice from your trainer
When you train functionally, you can use; body weight, equipment at your gym (free weights, cables, kettlebells, resistance bands), or go outdoors.
The workouts need to fit you; your schedule, your availability to equipment, your medical considerations, and your goals. Set yourself up for long term success. Check out other topics on this site for additional help.
Now, let's discuss recovery. there are two types- active and passive. Active means doing more gentle work; foam rolling, joint mobility, stretching, easier strength training or "cardio" work. Passive means- doing nothing; napping, reading, watching a movie. The body and mind need both types of recovery. Ask yourself- am I compromised? Compromised means- you're not getting enough sleep, or healthy foods, enough water, any movement, you're not feeling well. If that's the case, don't try to train hard to offset that. You're already beat up, why make it worse. Take things slowly, and build back safely. Add in stress reducing components to your life such as:
Meditative breathing- breath in for :04, hold the breath for :06, slowly exhale for :08. Find a quiet space and do that for 5 minutes. It will reduce stress, deliver oxygen to your cells, promote focus, and make you feel better.
Get more sleep- 6-9 hours/ night
Drink more water- at least half your body weight in ounces daily
Work on joint mobility
Take a yoga class
Hire an experienced, qualified trainer, close to where you live, or work.
Eat healthier-fruits and vegetables, lean organic proteins, and limit processed carbs (bread, pasta, cereal and white rice).
Start taking a good multivitamin and fish oils, and check out the section of this site on Life Changing Nutrition.
Being a dental professional is a long and rewarding career. But it's tough on you mentally and physically. You need to fight back with prevention of your own, so that you can feel and be your best, at any age.
Let us know if you have any questions, comments or problems, by using the "Get in touch" section at the bottom of this page.