Problem solving Pilates: what’s your problem?
Asha Pandya-Sharpe explains why Pilates could help you avoid back and neck pain working as a dentist.
Since learning about the Alexander technique, have you used it? No, me neither.
It’s a way of moving which aims to prevent injury by improving posture and changing bad habits (Brennan, 2016).
Not many of us however are able to continuously think about the way we move, before we move, every time we want to move.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve been able to implement the technique, you make a conscious effort to avoid hunching, or whether or not you wear loupes, the fact of the matter is, as dentists, we need to see! So we spend a lot of our time in a chair looking down.
Consequently, according to the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 70% of dentists suffer from back pain (Gaowgzeh et al, 2015).
Is it your back, your neck, your shoulders? What’s your problem?
Exercises to save your back
During a work experience placement I attended prior to dental school, the dentist I shadowed looked at me and sighed: ‘Save your back, start Pilates young’.
As a fit and healthy 18-year-old I didn’t take much notice of this until I started clinic during my second year of university. I had only been treating patients for two months when the pains began – my neck ached. I decided to join Bristol University’s Pilates society and quickly became hooked. I’ve seen improvements in my posture, muscle tone, balance, and best of all, no back pain!
Pilates was initially developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I to encourage bed-bound patients to develop muscle tone, www.pilatescentral.co.uk (2018) says. It has since become a globally respected method to help people with injury prevention and recovery.
Over the years I’ve learned a number of exercises that have been tremendously helpful for my back. Here, I’ve listed a selection of toning as well as stretching moves to help keep you pain-free in the clinic (so you may want to hide a yoga mat somewhere in the surgery!).
|1. Roll down||Why? Relieves back tension and increases mobility of the spine and neck|
Progress: try and touch your feet (don’t worry if you can’t).
Breathing technique is a vital component of Pilates. Take deep breaths in through the nose encouraging the air to the side of your ribs. Exhale through your mouth. Please watch videos and other appropriate resources or get started with an instructor before trying the moves to ensure good technique.
Pilates is all about small movements – it may not feel like strenuous exercise, but remember, the longer you hold a position for and the more repetitions you do, the harder it becomes. Try it for yourself!
|2. Torso twists||Why? Relieves tension and encourages spinal mobility|
Progress: ‘supine spinal twists’
|3. Bridge||Why? Strengthens the glutes and hamstrings|
|4. Kneeling superman||Why? Builds whole-body strength by utilising your abs, traps and glutes|
Progress: raise ipsilateral limbs as opposed to contralateral limbs
Brennan R (2016) Alexander Technique: An Introductory Guide to Natural Poise for Health and Well-Being. La Vergne: Pavillion Books 153
Gaowgzeh RA, Chevidikunnan MF, Al Saif A, El-Gendy S, Karrouf G and Al Senany S (2015) Prevalence of and risk factors for low back pain among dentists. J Phys Ther Sci 27(9): 2803-6
www.pelvicexercises.com.au/superman-exercise/ – comments (2018) accessed 18/6/19
www.pilatescentral.co.uk/history-origins-pilates (2018) accessed 18/6/19
www.verywellfit.com/standing-pilates-wall-roll-down-2704712 (1) (2019) accessed 18/6/19
www.verywellfit.com/learn-pilates-spine-twist-2704727 (2) (2019) accessed 18/6/19
www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-bridge-exercise-3120738 – step-by-step-instructions (3) (2019) accessed 18/6/19