Identifying Antagonist Muscle Groups in the Dental Professional Working Position

Muscles that create normal range of motion are labeled agonists, while antagonists return it to anatomical position. Every human joint is articulated by multiple muscles. Each has antagonistic pairs to allow freedom in movement. This freedom is only as free as the balance is of workload versus rest, in both sides of the joint. This course and its suggested strengthening with equal stretching poses will cover the areas that dental professionals have overuse issues with in treating patients.

  • Hamstrings and quadriceps work together. If they become imbalanced, injury of the knees and low back instability can occur.
  • Abdominal muscles, hips and the low back are very vulnerable to an extended seated position as well as forward or side leaning. This results in having stronger, foreshortened abs and longer weak back muscles. This is the perfect set-up for low back pain, one of the most common reasons for lost time at the workplace.
  • Chest and upper back are equally vulnerable to imbalance resulting in pain. The forward position with arms extended can lead to shortened tight pectoralis muscle and overstretched trapezius. This will also greatly affect the most vulnerable of all joints that will be covered in the next session, the shoulder.

Muscles work in opposition and in synchronicity. One muscle does not move alone. The label “agonist” is given to the group that creates the motion, while the “antogonist” returns it back to anatomical position.7 When a muscle is activated, surrounding muscles reply with effort to share the workload, thereby avoiding excessive stress that could lead to injury. When awareness is brought to the surrounding tissues that can be actively engaged, further precaution is taken to protect and prevent injury. It is important to have the knowledge, or more importantly, the awareness and ability to engage opposing muscles groups that seated dental professionals rely on heavily while treating patients. Major, larger muscles that allow for walking, bending, lifting and carrying, are called upon differently in the dental professional body. Static positioning is added over time with the same repetitive movement and soon begin to feel the imbalance. This sets up a cascade of other issues of all surrounding (and even further away) activated body parts in the movement.