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Improve Your Health With Chair Yoga

Proper ergonomics may be optimally maintained through the utilization of magnification, correct positioning of the patient and operator, and the use of an ergonomically correct chair, such as a saddle style or exercise ball.

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Proper ergonomics may be optimally maintained through the utilization of magnification, correct positioning of the patient and operator, and the use of an ergonomically correct chair, such as a saddle style or exercise ball. Maintaining proper ergonomics sets the operator up for success in musculoskeletal alignment. However, it may not be enough to reverse or prevent the physical and mental strain of dentistry.

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Yoga Is Key

Yoga may improve body alignment by increasing the practitioner’s ability to maintain his or her ergonomics more ideally. Yoga has been used for centuries throughout the world to achieve a higher level of physical and mental health. During the practice of yoga, specific postures and breathing techniques are sequenced to align and energize or calm the entire body. Yoga is not a replacement for proper ergonomics, yet it can be an effective addition to improve the mind and body.

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Performing Yoga on the Job

Chair yoga can be done using the operator stool quickly in-between patients, on a lunch break, before or after work, alone, or in a staff meeting. In as little as 30 seconds to 60 seconds, stretching a muscle can increase blood flow and range of motion, relieve pain, and improve musculature. Koneru and Tanikonda describe yoga as a system for healing because it releases endorphins and hormones that lower stress and strengthen the musculoskeletal system.

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Benefits of Yoga

As a proven safe and effective activity to reduce and prevent injury, yoga has also been shown to decrease the amount of absentee days from work. A pilot study found that consistent yoga practice was preferred over other forms of exercise, and yoga may lead to career longevity, in addition to multiple physical benefits. When yoga was performed at work, a direct correlation was seen between upper body pain and stress reduction and yoga practice frequency. A study of dentists found that 89.5% experienced a reduction in pain through yoga compared with other physical activity. Successful stress reduction was demonstrated over a 6-week yoga practice during a randomized controlled trial in which participants were asked to provide their self-reported stress levels using validated stress-tests. The study authors suggested that yoga should be offered by employers to their employees.

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Make It a Routine

Yoga can be integrated into anyone’s day with ease. The yoga breathing techniques and postures can be customized to fit oral health professionals’ needs to target site-specific pain or tightness and can be modified to address different abilities and physical conditions. Any exercise, including yoga, must be done correctly to avoid over-stretching or strain to muscles, ligaments, or tendons. Body weight must be properly dispersed to prevent injury and the use of a prop, such as a chair, can facilitate correct posture in a pose without strain.

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Philosophy of Yoga

The philosophy of yoga is to change the pose to fit the individual. The physical formation of the yoga poses can positively affect both the physiological and mental aspects of pain and stress. In addition, the breathing and meditation techniques are designed to provide deeper levels of relaxation, energy, and clarity. Alternating nostril breathing can be used for deep long meditation or short periods of relaxation. To perform this technique, one nostril is gently compressed for one inhalation and exhalation. The alternate nostril is then compressed for another inhalation and exhalation. The technique of Viloma breathing offers energy and focus and consists of a series of short breaths with pauses during inhalation and exhalation.

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Focus on Well-Being

Dedication to a career in oral health comes with some occupational risks, including MSDs and chronic stress. As health care providers who devote time and attention to prevention, oral health professionals must acknowledge that they themselves need to actively pursue health maintenance to prevent injury. While there are many physical activities that reduce occupational risks, chair yoga shows promise as a safe and preferred choice. Consistency, compliance, proper body mechanics, and safe use are factors that may affect the benefits of chair yoga poses and breathing techniques. A consultation with a physician and/or a yoga professional may be necessary to ensure correct practice modifications are made, as yoga can exacerbate any existing injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis, if performed incorrectly. Making time for this type of mental and physical self-care is critical as it may contribute to career longevity and overall well-being.

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This information is from the article “An Addition to the Ergonomic Toolbox” by Crystal Kanderis Lane, RDH, BS, MS. To read the article, click here.

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