How exercise can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders

It’s well-known that work-related musculoskeletal disorders are highly prevalent among dentists. A 2009 study by Hayes in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene stated that between 64 and 93 percent of dental professionals experience musculoskeletal pain. In 2016, Leggat published an article in the international journal, Healthcare, claiming the prevalence is 85 percent among dental students.

Future dentists have a lifetime of dentistry ahead, and should do everything in their power to ensure the longevity and health of their careers. Posture is important, but it’s more than that. Supporting muscles can become fatigued or weakened. When you work for hours a day in the same position, chances are you’re going to develop pain, even with “perfect” posture.

What can we do? We can work out.

The challenge is that we lead busy lives. The 8-to-5 school day, plus time spent on lab work and studying, leaves minimal time and energy left for exercise. Still, our physical health should be prioritized just as much as our school work. Our success in school depends on our ability to do lab work and pass our exams. But what about prevention of injury? Your physical health and strength impact how resilient you are to musculoskeletal injury.

A 2003 article in the Journal of the American Dental Association, written by physical therapist Bethany Valachi, explains that long periods of no muscle movement lead to ischemia and necrosis, causing areas of microdamage leading to pain and eventually to musculoskeletal disorders.

Read the rest of the article in the June/July issue of Contour magazine.

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About Kimia Mirzadeh

Kimia Mirzadeh attends University of Louisville School of Dentistry and will graduate in 2019.

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