Would like to suggest the concept of anterior support to alleviate muscle overuse in situations where positions are sustained for more than brief periods. This is most obvious in dentistry and surgery but also occurs in industry as well. Dentists for example work in a forward incline position for extended periods and have an extremely high rate of early retirement due to back pain. The position itself is well within the normal parameters of spine movement and is rarely the problem. Sustaining the position however is a problem and back pain is already a problem by the 2nd and 3rd year of dental school according to professors at numerous dental colleges.
We know that sustained muscle contraction decreases blood flow which leads to inadequate oxygen/nutrition in the tissue. This results in trigger point formation that often becomes a self-sustaining or even escalating situation. Attempts at maintaining ideal “posture” (doing dentistry while sitting fully erect) have failed as the incidence of pain and dysfunction have increased over the decades. Sitting upright has also taken the practitioner away from direct visualization of their worksite.
So what’s the solution? How about we allow the dentist to lean forward but be supported in that position? They get to directly see their work and have no muscle issues to deal with. They naturally will be allowed to vary their position which further enhances increased blood flow instead of attempting to hold a rigid and impractical position.
A little support could go a long way in alleviating pain and dysfunction not only in dentistry but in the lab, surgery, assembly station, and virtually any situation where a position is held. Anterior support could be adjustable to allow some variation in position depending on size, gender, etc. Changing work stations is good to allow variation in muscle use but why not avoid some or most of the muscle overuse in the first place.
Works in dentistry. Why not other areas?
Kurt Klemm PT Cert MDT