What does the Alexander Technique have to offer Dental clinicians…
Do you feel tense at the end of the day with neck, back and shoulder pain?
Do you wake up stiff?
Are these recurrent problems?
Having worked with dentists in my private practice and at Grayshott Health Spa it is evident to myself and many of my clients that the Alexander Technique has much to offer dental clinicians.
The un-natural positions that dentists, dental nurses and hygienists assume when working, causes:
- Forward head posture
- Shoulders to round and lift and to work with arms out to the sides
- The shoulders to often be on a tilted axis and the head turned to one side
- Clinicians to bend forward from the waist, rounding the back, which causes slouching and discomfort
- An unbalanced seated position
- Tension, as they work at complex tasks but with repetitive movements
The above create habitual tension patterns and postural habits, which are less than ideal and cause strain, pain and tension in our bodies. The problem with muscular tension is that very quickly it starts to feel the “norm”, we don’t realise that it is happening and it causes us discomfort.
The Alexander Technique (A.T.) is well suited to help the above issues, it is a self-help technique, which specialise in movement. A.T. helps to re-establish the natural relationship between the head, neck and back, which is the “core” of the body and head balance is pivotal to this… particularly as a head weighs 4kg (8.8lbs)! If your head is not freely balanced on top of your spine then you will have to use much muscular tension, particularly in the neck and shoulders to hold it up.
Typically in an introductory workshop at your surgery, we
- Use a slideshow presentation to explain and introduce the principles of the Alexander Technique
- Then in a practical context look at
- Increasing awareness of balance when sitting in a work scenario. This helps re-align the forward head position and improves posture and counters slouching
- We look at where movement when bending forward, should take place, using body-mapping techniques. When the torso is used as one unit posture improves and the tendency to collapse forward and round is diminished
- Body mapping in the context of the shoulders, arms and hands. By being more aware of where and how your joints work, makes a big difference in improving natural movement. Understanding that the arms should be used from the core of the body and don’t just hang off the shoulders improves the rounding, narrowing and lifting of the shoulders that habitually occurs when using instruments.
- Improving the use of a workstation. You can have the most ergonomic setup but if you don’t sit at it properly then the benefits are greatly reduced – very useful to your front desk personnel
The A.T. reminds our bodies of the good posture and poise that is inherent in all of us and can be seen naturally in small children. It gives you “tools” to use in your everyday life that will make a difference. You can regain control of your body to alleviate pain, improve posture and enhance performance
Your taster evening provided an excellent insight into our working posture. I found the fundamental basic skills that Jane taught us a real help. Now before I dive into the patient’s mouth I stop and think about my posture and put these basic skills into practice by checking my sitting bones, nodding my head and using my eyes more instead of pushing my head forwards and lifting my shoulders.
I’ve learnt so much in such a short time – thanks.
Adrienne (Dental Hygienist)
Sore necks, shoulders and backs seem to be a chronic problem particularly related to dental practice as well as desk-bound computerholics. The problem is posture and how we use our skeleton, too often we misuse or abuse our necks, backs and pelvises and end up with chronic pain. Because of this I welcomed the opportunity to listen to Jane Baker, a practitioner of the Alexander Technique, in the hope of understanding and addressing the issues that were causing me pain.
Jane explained how important it is to have our heads (which weigh more than 8lbs) and vertebral column in correct alignment at all times. She showed us how incorrect and unbalanced head movements and rotation can have a debilitating effect on our musculature. Jane emphasised the importance of always sitting on our pelvic bones evenly rather than slouching on the coccyx or crossing our legs over, both of which result in twisting, which affects all the muscles causing chronic pain.
We went into a surgery to explore finding the correct working position for dentists, nurses and dental hygienists. Body awareness is key to maintaining a correct posture and Jane showed us how we could adapt our positions to maintain clear access and visibility without compromising our health. Key for me was the realisation that by bending from the hips, as opposed to collapsing at the waist, and rotating my head I could maintain a correct head –neck-back axis without sacrificing visibility or reach.
Overall Jane’s’ workshop was extremely useful and informative and it made everyone who attended aware of how badly they compromise their health on a daily basis. The realisation that a few, small changes and increased body awareness can bring relief from chronic pain and reverse ingrained bad habits was wonderful.
Hania Baranowska (Periodontal Specialist)