Stretch for Pain Relief
I see patients every day from 7:30 am to 4 pm. Lately, I have been experiencing back problems specific to my dominant side, just at the bottom of my scapula. Do you have any suggestions for exercises or stretches that might help?
QUESTION: I see patients every day from 7:30 am to 4 pm. Lately, I have been experiencing back problems specific to my dominant side, just at the bottom of my scapula. Do you have any suggestions for exercises or stretches that might help?
ANSWER: The first issue to consider is what is causing your pain. Are your shoulders slouched or raised and your neck flexed forward or
tilted? These awkward postures can contribute to your upper back pain.
There are stretching exercises you can implement throughout the workday. Many oral health professionals have found yoga, Pilates, and the Alexander technique (method that realigns the posture to prevent unnecessary muscular and mental tension) to be helpful in reducing pain and preventing injury.
Stretching exercises should be done slowly, moving into the desired position as far as possible without pain and then holding the stretch. Perform each stretching exercise a few times and then increase the amount of time and repetitions spent on each one. It is always good advice to consult with a medical professional if you experience an injury or the pain continues.
You can do this while sitting or standing. Start with your arms down by your sides and then squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for about 10 seconds to 20 seconds and repeat several times. This exercise strengthens the rhomboids and middle trapezius.
Sit upright and interlace your fingers behind your head. Elbows should be level with your ears. Push your elbows back, pulling the shoulder blades together. Hold this for about 10 seconds and repeat several times. This exercise will increase your shoulder mobility.
Spinal Stretch With Clasped Palms
Sit upright and clasp your hands in front of you. Then rotate your hands so that your palms are away from you. Bring your arms overhead and in
alignment with your ears. Stretch by lengthening your spine. Hold this position for 10 seconds to 20 seconds and repeat several times. You can also add a stretch to the left side of your body by reaching the arms up and over to the right (without twisting your torso) and hold for 10 seconds to 20 seconds, come to center, then reach over to the left to stretch the right side. This exercise will help relax tight shoulders and the neck.
Your body needs rest periods throughout the day. Try alternating challenging and easy patients in your daily schedule. You can change your posture, as well. To engage different muscles than those used while practicing clinically, walk your patient from and to the reception area and stand up while performing extraoral examinations. Determine if you are having difficulty accessing or seeing certain areas. Some dental hygienists prefer to stand to gain better access to the mandibular anteriors.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. October 2016;14(10):60.