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SDS: Self Destructive Syndrome

By Deby Harper

Do you and your staff suffer from Self DestructiveSyndrome?

Dental decay and gum disease do not happen overnight. The same is true for back, shoulder and neck pain. It can take many years of poor posture for the body to give out, but when it finally does, it affects your work, relationships and your quality of life.

Dentists and their staffs educate patients on care of their teeth and gums. If you brush your teeth, but don't floss, you may end up with beautiful teeth but not bone to hold the teeth in place.

Much in the same way, when we work with stress, anger, criticism and frustration, we see manifestations of pain and tension. Adding poor body mechanics and faulty posture to the equation just compounds the problem. In due time, doctor visits are needed to deal with the symptoms of back, neck and shoulder pain and headaches. If you ignore the message, you will pay a bigger price down the road.

We often see dental professionals scrunched over patients, or tilted to one side or with a rounded back and head projected forward, or shoulders hunched up to the ear lobes. Eventually, this will damage your neck muscles, and once this has taken place the nerves that work the upper back muscles begin degenerating. Ultimately, this affects the nerves and muscles to the arm and hands, causing pain or numbness.

I was an exhibitor at the annual dental conference in Phoenix recently and had the opportunity to observe the posture of dentists, hygienists and assistants. It may not come as a surprise, but as a profession we are not doing very well. The nature of work creates some real postural challenges.

Many people complained of back pain and some are even considering leaving the profession. A number of people are seeing doctors, but that really isn't addressing the root cause.

Your office is paying for poor posture in some way, either with low productivity or the impact of what you are feeling being passed on to co-workers and patients.

Being aware of your posture is a lifelong commitment to yourself. Once you're aware of what good posture is, the choice is yours. Neglect of your posture condemns the body with the deformed spine, lack of energy, degerneration of the musculoskeletal system, pain and discomfort. Often we we accept this deterioration as part of the aging process while not acknowledging the role of our personal postural habits. You may be excellent at your profession, but you could be more aware of how you move while working.

Our tension patterns affect all the systems of the body: how we breathe, how we digest our food, how we move, and our behavior and physical appearance. These tension patterns also affect our mental faculties: our capacity to make decisions and follow through on them; our confidence, energy, and overall awareness of our surroundings.

Today, repetitive stress injury is the number one occupational illness in the nation and is costing an astronomical $60 billion annually in health care claims. Two-thirds of this $60 billion is for lower back pain and $20 billion is for upper-extremity injuries. Many people never report their pain or injury to the employer for fear of losing their job or promotions. When lost productivity and other costs are tallied, it is estimated that $120 billion is spent on these types of problems.

People tend to want a quick fix. They want others to fix the problem, but they need to take personal responsibility. The first thing you want to look at is your posture. We tend to let our environment dictate our health. We buy very expensive chairs and then we slouch in them. We educate people on how the chair works instead of educating people on how the body works.

If employers do not take the responsibility to educate themselves and their employees on how to improve their postures while working, they will eventually pay in medical costs, loss of work due to back pain, low productivity and morale.

If you have allowed your posture to deteriorate over the years, you will need to build up the postural muscles gradually. The first thing I do when I meet new clients is asses how they carry themselves. I find that people with rounded shoulders and slumped back tend to carry the world around on on their shoulders. They also project low self-esteem. Poor posture also makes you look and feel old. That's probably not the image you want to project to your patients. In my work with posture, I have clients report relief from headaches, back pain, shoulder tension and pain and hip discomfort. They also breathe easier and feel more energized.

Listen when your body is talking to you. If you feel pain, your body is communicating that something is wrong. Ask yourself:
  • What is causing the backache, headache, or muscle tension?
  • Why am I so tense?
  • What am I doing that is causing this?
To seat your self correctly, practice these movements until they become a habit:
    Sit squarely on both hips, waist back, ribs elevated on inch, neck stretched up from the shoulders. Imagine squeezing an orange between your shoulder blades. This may feel unnatural at first but this is correct posture. You will want to keep your head positioned back in alignment with your shoulders. Your neck will feel elongated with immediate stress eliminated in your neck and shoulders. Sitting correctly will firm and tighten the muscles of the abdomen, chest, back and neck. It will also alleviate a rounded back and hopefully your back pain.
Of all the things that impact us physically, our posture is one of the easiest to correct, buy you first have to know that there is a problem. You have to be motivated to fix the problem, and then you need to be committed working on it the rest of your life.

For additional information on Self Destructive Syndrome call Deby Harper at PFS Insights. 480-951-0822
Poor Posture Promotes:
  • neck, shoulder and back pain
  • stress and tension
  • digestive problems
  • headache
  • arthritis
  • distorted figures
  • poor concentration (pain is a distraction)
  • low productivity
  • premature aging
  • low self-esteem
  • numbness
  • sciatica
  • muscle imbalances
  • knee pain
  • fatigue
  • breathing difficulty
  • protruding abdomen
  • thick waistlines
  • depression
Good Posture Promotes:
  • energy and health
  • increased productivity
  • overall sense of well-being
  • projection of confidence
  • improved attitude and morale
  • more alertness
  • better concentration
  • stronger body
  • burning more calories
  • improved endurance
  • less muscle stress and tension
  • improved body functions
  • good breathing
  • better patient-working relationships


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