Are you sitting comfortably?
Ordinary working chairs used in dental clinics cause sitting disorders and are one of the main reasons behind declining health, decrease in work efficiency and early incapacity.
Most dentists are exposed to a physical load on a daily basis, and particularly the back, neck and shoulders are strained as a result of static muscular work. Many will – unfortunately – just attempt to endure these problems and adapt to them. However, some people realise that back problems, shoulder area tension and neck pain, as well as poor circulation, have a lot to do with sitting, and as a result are aiming to change their working environment to be healthier and more comfortable.
Cornerstones of healthy sitting
When sitting, the body should be in a good upright position and the natural lower back curve maintained. However, when sitting on a traditional chair the S-shape of the spine is lost. The reason behind this is simple: as the angle between the upper body and thighs is only approximately 90º, it is nearly impossible to sit with your pelvis tilted slightly forward. On the contrary, many have a tendency to sit with the pelvis tilted backwards. This so-called ‘relaxed’, round-backed posture will, in the long run, cause tensions and back pains.
The ideal sitting position, where the curvature of the lumbar spine (lordosis) is maintained, is unrealistic and highly tiresome to our bodies unless we use a saddle chair, which keeps the thighs pointing downwards and somewhat apart from each other. Feet rest on the floor on both sides of the body, which also makes using pedals easy for the dentist.
When sitting on a saddle chair the weight of the body is supported by the ischial bones underneath our pelvis; the weight of the upper body lies solely on the bones, not on the muscles. Nonetheless, sitting straight is only possible if the design of the seat allows the pelvis to tilt forward.
On a traditional chair or one-part saddle chair pressure is focused on the pelvic area, which is not only uncomfortable but can be harmful as well. A two-part saddle seat has a gap in the middle of the seat, thus eliminating this pressure and preventing health risks of the genital area.
Advantages of the two-part saddle seat in practice
The two-part saddle seat has many favourable effects on the daily work of dental professionals. In addition to diminishing shoulder and neck tension, the blood and fluid circulation in the lower limbs is activated, which, in turn, prevents swelling and numbness. As the angle of the knee joint is wider, the knees are also less stressed. Breathing deepens and one can feel energetic even after sitting for several hours at a time.
When sitting on a saddle chair, one can place the feet partly underneath the patient’s chair, thus allowing the distance to the working area to be shorter. When one sits upright with the arms free and relaxed near the sides, many of the work positions that earlier felt difficult become easier, because the muscles in the neck and shoulders no longer get strained.
This work position is also very good when performing operations that require precision and care, because the visibility of the patient’s mouth is better. Moving during the operation is effortless, because the chair rolls with you and your feet are never in the way.
Swing activates the lower back
The Salli Swing chair, as an example, has been developed to prevent the problems caused by static sitting. The seat has a comfortable spring mechanism, which enables the seat to follow the user’s hip movements in all directions. When sitting on the chair the smooth movements and stretches strengthen and activate the lower back. This exercise also improves the blood circulation and metabolism of the lower back and feet.
Adapting to a saddle chair takes our bodies a couple of weeks. However, physiologically healthy sitting is always a better alternative to continuing with unhealthy sitting habits. After the adaptation period users will feel happy: the two-part saddle chair prevents sitting-originated diseases, increases work efficiency and adds to the number of active work years.