Most dental professionals miss the most important part of ergonomics. It is easy to buy chairs, loupes and equipment that offer promises of reduced pain and improved health. However, as I am sure you are more than aware, these promises are often empty.
You buy a chair that is labeled “ergonomic” only to find that at the end of the day your back is still hurting and now you have a shooting pain down your leg! You purchase loupes because you know how important they are for visualization and to maintain a correct posture and now your headaches are worse and you are exhausted at the end of the day. Sound familiar?
The typical response is to blame the product. It usually goes something like this:
“That chair was mislabeled and not ergonomic at all!”
“Loupes make your posture worse not better!”
My question to you is, why did you purchase that specific chair or that pair of loupes? Did you buy into the “ergonomic” labeling? Did you follow the recommendation of a colleague? Were you just searching for anything to help you feel better?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you have missed the most important part of ergonomics for dental professionals.
Body awareness is the key to understanding what you need from your equipment. I have watched people purchase $1500 loupes with little insight into what their body actually needs. They rely heavily on the company representative who doesn’t know anything about them and has a superficial understanding of general ergonomics. The same is true for chairs, for delivery systems, for lighting systems, for electrical stimulation devices, for medical treatment plans to relieve pain, and so on.
How can you create a better body awareness while you are practicing dentistry?
Let’s face it, it requires a lot of brain power just to do your job. Your patients depend on you to be completely focused.
Creating body awareness while continuing to practice can be challenging, but not impossible. Just like when making any significant change in your life, you can start with small achievable goals, gradually improving your body awareness while practicing!
When you improve your body awareness, you will be able to accurately identify your problems and answer questions like:
Is there a particular task that I feel more uncomfortable performing?
How long am I able to maintain a good posture?
What tasks seem to require me to be in awkward positions?
At what time do I start experiencing pain?
Is my chair causing my issues?
With improved body awareness you will also be able to select appropriate correction such as:
I need a chair that has a shorter cylinder so that I am closer to the ground.
My loupes are too heavy, I need a lighter pair.
I find myself in awkward positions when I am working on #3, I need better lighting.
To help you improve your body awareness while practicing dentistry, I have created a free 6 week step by step program. Don’t worry, I won’t have you meditating naked in your front office for hours a day.
Each week you will receive an email with an assignment to improve your body awareness in the office. The first email will help you to use your morning huddle to kickstart your day.
Whether you choose to take part in this free program or not, it is essential that you know that without body awareness, ergonomic products may be a waste of money and time. Learning to pay attention to your body is the only way you will be able to make informed choices and create your healthy dental practice!
Be Healthy and Practice Safely!