In dentistry, mindfulness about posture is career-saving. With the amount of strain we place on our necks and backs, it is vital to be aware of correct posture and how to maintain it. There are various ways to remind ourselves of this. With solid back support, instruments at arm’s length and proper use of a dental auxiliary, many posture problems can be immediately alleviated. However, sometimes mindfulness is the most important aspect to maintaining proper posture.
Musicians and dentists have a common ground, as many musicians face posture problems, too. When I was in music school, I learned about a way to combat these issues called the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique is not just about learning ergonomic posture in a career setting, but practicing how to move the body freely and mindfully through all parts of life. It teaches how to release tension from the body, whether that tension is from a stiff neck or tight shoulders.
The basis of Alexander Technique is that, as children, we know how to move freely and what movements are correct for our bodies. As we grow older, the pervasiveness of computers, phones and external stressors change the way we move from ergonomic to uncomfortable, and we become accustomed to these uncomfortable movements until they create harmful tension within the body.
There are a few things that we can do to become more mindful of our posture. First, every time we feel tension in our shoulders, necks or backs, we can choose to notice that tension and work to release it. Taking the time to stretch, stand up and walk around upon noticing this tension can break the cycle of tension. The more we notice where we hold tension in our bodies, the easier it will become to release it.
Second, once we realize where the tension is, taking up practices such as yoga can help us target different postural points in our bodies that need work. Of course, sometimes stretching and yoga is simply not enough. If you find yourself with unbearable pain when it comes to posture, you should seek out a physical therapist or doctor.
Although Alexander Technique is primarily targeted toward musicians, athletes, actors and dancers, I believe learning the technique can benefit anyone carrying stress or tension in the body. As dentists, we tend to carry most of our tension in the shoulders and neck. While getting a massage or doing daily yoga can help provide us with relief from the daily stress of seeing patients, learning to be mindful of our posture and carrying ourselves more freely can help fix some of these problems and provide comfort.
~Shilpa Kudva, Texas A&M ’21