Having good posture isn’t something that comes naturally in our day in age with the increase of technology and sitting in general, especially as hygienists. In fact, most hygienists struggle to have good posture even AFTER going to ergonomics classes and implementing what they’ve recommended.
However, having poor posture and compromising our body positioning for every patient of every hour is the reason so many hygienists are experiencing pain, discomfort, fatigue, early retirement, and burnout.
In fact, Mayo Clinic says that sitting overall is dangerous. It increases the risk of many other things in the body including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cardiovascular disease, excess body fat, and even death.
One of the most common things I see in every continuing education class on ergonomics is WHY we need good posture and what good posture looks like. What about how to get this posture that they’re talking about and how to actually maintain this posture?
I’m going to share five ways to get proper posture and change your life inside the operatory.
While it’s ideal to create proper posture for ourselves as practitioners for every patient, we know that’s not realistic. There will always be patients who can’t open wide, who can’t go back all of the ways, or who mouth-breathe so heavy you can’t do anything but bend, crunch and peer on in.
Let’s aim to get a baseline for good posture that we always come back to–every day, every hour, every patient.
Let’s start with two of the easiest and most common ways to have good posture.
1. Use an Ergonomically-Friendly Practioner Chair
I’ve used a few ergo chairs that they sell on the market, and while I like them a lot, they are practitioner-based. Meaning, each practitioner will be drawn to a certain style or brand, and even more, the benefit it will give each practitioner will vary depending on their body, alignment and more.
I believe ergo chairs can add a lot of value and aid in having good posture as they’re typically a constant reminder for you to sit up tall. Even more than that, some of them don’t allow you to slump back to your habitual posture
2. Try Dental Loupes
Yes, yes and yes! If you’re a dental hygienist and you don’t have dental loupes, I don’t know whether to say “Congratulations” for having good eyes or “What the heck have you been waiting for?” because you’re being stubborn…
Dental loupes change the game as far as posture goes. They allow you to have perfect posture and see your patients’ gums when set up properly.
As Today’s RDH shares, it’s important to do your research prior to making the purchase for loupes. The more recent common loupes are through-the-lens (TLL) are typically customized for the clinician, whereas, flip up loupes are not. TLL style loupes force the clinician to look up or down in order to see the patient without magnification, while flip-up loupes are easily moveable.
Either way, having dental loupes as a dental hygienist will surely allow you to have good posture if you’re willing to do the work!
3. Be Aware of Your Alignment
One of the most important parts of this discussion thus far is alignment. When our bodies aren’t in alignment (example: leaning to one side, elbow out to the side, constantly slumped backward) it puts uneven wear on the physical body.
Postural misalignment will cause imbalances throughout their entire path of the muscle, and if not addressed, can also affect other muscles that are attached to the same bone, leading to many imbalanced muscles.
If you’re not sure if you’re working with proper alignment, definitely don’t miss out on the following two ways.
4. Releasing Tension in Your Body
Releasing muscular tension is one of the most important ways to achieve and maintain good posture. Sitting, in general, causes the whole front line of the body to shorten, which in itself can cause muscular tension, nevermind adding misalignment and weird positions.
Releasing tension in the muscles create an opportunity for good posture.
I dive into ways to release tension in the physical body from the common areas that get tight as hygienists in my Chairside Guide.
5. Create Sustainable Strength
Most people think about strength in the body as classic 6-pack abs or weightlifting. Strength in the body can be much more subtle and also more stabilizing. Proper strength in the body, specifically the back line of the body and your core, are vital for having good posture.
A strong back body can support our seated posture even if we’re working ten days a week.
If you’re interested in learning more and creating proper alignment within your body through building strength/stability, releasing tension, learning proper and sustainable body mechanics for your specific body through one-on-one sessions, I’ve created a program just for you.
Foundation to Freedom is a 3-month online yoga therapy program for hygienists where you get weekly yoga therapy classes to target hygiene-specific areas of weakness, pain and discomfort, monthly one-on-one sessions for individualized support, weekly meditations and mindfulness practices, support, accountability, and so much more.
This program is teaching hygienists just like you HOW to build strength, release tension and create proper alignment so that proper posture can be achieved.
If you’re interested in implementing these tips in a small way to start, check out this free Chairside Guide I created just for you with movements, tips, and tricks for managing pain, posture, and stress.
As Dental Hygienists, it’s vital for both our bodies, our careers and our overall health that we take the time to learn and implement the many ways that we can get out of pain and find a good posture that works–and keeps us in the operatory and enjoying our careers.