01 Jan Got ergonomics? Saddle style dental chairs best for back.
The prevalence of back pain in dentistry unwavering over the past 50 years (around 65 percent), new, alternative methods for sitting and preventing back pain are gaining increased recognition.
A saddle-style stool promotes a neutral pelvic position, which supports the spine’s three natural curves in a balanced posture. The thighs slope steeply (45°) downward, so the seated position is halfway between sitting and standing (think ‘supported standing’). The resultant benefits to the musculoskeletal system and from an ergonomic standpoint when compared with conventional style seating are numerous.
- The stool places you in a ‘tripod’ position with the hips slightly flexed and abducted (spread apart), which is the most stabilize position for the hip joint. Only when the lower body is stable, can the upper body move with ease and precision.
- Dentists with short torsos who find they must lift their arms to the sides when working, can easily lower the patient when seated on a saddle stool, allowing more relaxed neck and shoulder musculature.
- It is easier to maintain neutral spinal posture, since you are halfway between standing and sitting.
- Diaphragmatic breathing is improved.
- It is easier to gain proximity to the patient when the thighs are steeply sloping downward, which minimizes excessive forward reaching.
- Moving the stool is easier, since it utilizes the larger thigh muscles instead of the calf muscles.
- The saddle stool facilitates correct movement at the hips, instead of bending at the waist.
- When the seat is adjusted flat, the saddle stool places the pelvis in a neutral position, which helps maintain the lumbar curve. Never tilt a saddle stool seat, as this can cause hyperlordosis and low back pain.
- When the lumbar curve is present, it facilitates a more neutral head posture. Conversely, when the lumbar curve flattens, the head moves forward!
- Its low profile makes the saddle stool ideal to access the 12 o’clock position in small, confined operatories.
- It is easier to go from sitting to standing position.
- The saddle stools activate the deep trunk stabilizing muscles, which have been shown to help prevent low back pain.