Take a (Bambach) seat
With back pain an increasing problem among dentists, Seb Bavetta and Elaine Ferguson spoke to Seb Evans about how Bambach is hoping to alleviate the issue.
What do riding a horse and dentistry have in common? It might sound like the start of a bad joke, but it’s far from it. It was the design and shape of a horse rider’s saddle that led to the creation of the Bambach Saddle Seats. These, in turn, have improved the lower back pain and posture of countless dentists and dental professionals around the world.
Fortuna Mobility is a division of Fortuna Group (London) Ltd and is now the UK distributor for Bambach Saddle Seats. And it is looking to spread the word about how important the correct sitting position and posture is to a dentist’s working life, with its extensive background from outside the dentistry profession.
‘We started our independent living and mobility centre in 2010 and we’ve expanded rapidly,’ Elaine Ferguson, mobility and seating specialist at Fortuna, says. ‘We sell our products to individuals, local authorities, care homes, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. Primarily, we offer solutions to make life easier.’
On the face of it, Bambach Saddle Seats seem like a strange fit with Fortuna Mobility. But its knowledge and background is the reason it fits so well.
‘The Bambach Saddle Seat is developed in Australia,’ Seb Bavetta, director of Fortuna Mobility, says. ‘The design is developed by an occupational therapist called Mary Gale and her maiden name was Bambach. She worked with disabled children and she noticed their posture and balance improved while horse riding. She decided to make the step of transferring a saddle shape to a stool bringing the same benefits when seated.’
Back pain is worryingly common. Estimates suggest more than 80% of people suffer from back pain worldwide. With more than two thirds of those occasionally suffering chronic back pain.
The results also estimate that back pain causes around 20% of lost working hours. If you work in unbalanced and awkward positions, such as while practising dentistry, the risk is much higher. In fact, around 30% of dentists that retire early do so because of back problems.
‘If we say the pressure on the spine is 100% when in a standing position, it decreases to 20% lying down, but increases to 120% to 140% when in a normal seated position on a flat chair,’ Elaine says. ‘It can even increase to 200% for many people with poor posture.’
Is Bambach Saddle Seat the solution?
The idea behind the Bambach Saddle Seat is to alleviate the pressure on the user’s back.
‘We call sitting on the Bambach active sitting, as your back remains in an active position,’ Elaine continues. ‘When we stand, our backs are in the correct S-shape alignment. When we sit down we tend to curve and our shoulders come forward, and this causes all sorts of problems. This also means when sitting certain core muscles aren’t used.
‘Using the Bambach gives a better seated position, meaning you’re engaging your core, and not compressing internal organs.’
Elaine and Seb are encouraging dentists and dental professionals to take care of their backs at the very beginning of their careers.
Over time, as all of us get older, we tend to become slightly less mobile, with our muscles having already developed the memory to be in a certain position. It’s the same for everybody, but for dentists and their dental teams – who are sitting for long periods of time in awkward positions – it’s going to be worse. However, Elaine stresses, it’s never too late to improve your posture and help alleviate and prevent back pain.
Invest in your back
There are a number of saddle designs currently on the market, all claiming the best ergonomics for dentists and their teams. So, what is it that makes the Bambach Saddle Seat so special?
‘This is the original saddle seat and the original design. No other stools are as contoured as the Bambach Saddle Seat,’ Seb explains. ‘It’s the contour that this saddle design is based around. It’s what tilts your pelvis into the right position.’
Bambach Saddle Seats also have clinical evidence backing up the claims of posture improvement and relief of back pain.
Bambachs come with a five-year warranty and there are more than a million different combinations of stool, with a variety of different leathers, colours, stool sizes and stems to suit almost every practice requirement. The Ultraleather fabric available is breathable, soft, hardwearing, waterproof and is, in most cases, antimicrobial. Adding accessories to the Bambach Saddle Seat make them suitable specifically for dental nurses, who often have to work in a higher seating position than dentists.
The obvious place to start
There is a bespoke aspect to the service provided. It’s not all about ‘selling boxes’ for Fortuna, Seb says. The Bambach customer service team offers experienced, thorough and comprehensive advice to dentists. There are also resources available on the Bambach website.
We stress the importance of breaking yourself in, to use a horse riding analogy. It takes a while to build up the core muscles to be able to sit on a Bambach Saddle Seat.
‘We would recommend to anyone, the first time you use a Bambach, use it for an hour, two hours and slowly build up the time,’ Seb says.
Elaine concludes: ‘My main piece of advice to dentists is to think about how long they sit in very difficult situations and how important it is to care for their backs and overall health and comfort.
‘Don’t retire early because of lower back pain and musculoskeletal problems. Seating is the obvious place you should start to invest in your future.’