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Dental Pros: your workout is making your pain worse

Nowadays, there are so many different forms of workouts available, it seems there is something for everybody. Yoga and Pilates seem to be quite popular amongst dental professionals but, regardless of what your activity of choice is, it’s important to know how it could be making you pain worse.

While it’s crucial to incorporate workouts in order to improve your physical health and ability to practice, there are specific workouts to do and even more importantly specific workouts NOT to do! Keep reading to learn what workouts to steer clear of to avoid making your pain worse.

Working out with neck and shoulder pain

As a dental professional, pain is such the “norm” in their everyday lives that when they feel pain during a workout, it is not a red flag to them. But I’m here to tell you that it should be! If you ever feel pain during a workout-STOP!! You should in no way, shape, or form be experiencing pain during a workout. Ever.

Chronic neck and shoulder pain is something that I hear from all of the dental professionals I speak with. The first rule of thumb for this case is to avoid workouts that include: overhead presses, shoulder press, chest presses, and pushups to name a few.

Here’s why.

This is because these exercises work the muscles that are already being worked allllll day long. Your chest and traps are extremely tight and your shoulders are slumped forward for a reason. You have a muscle imbalance. These exercises are only going to worsen this imbalance and cause more pain.

Instead, you need to concentrate on working the opposing muscles to correct the imbalance. This includes mid and lower traps, rhomboids, and the serratus anterior (thoracic mobility is also important as it goes hand in hand with shoulder mobility). By building up these muscles through strength training, this will correct your imbalance, improve your posture and alleviate your pain for the long haul. But let me be clear, you will not build these muscles doing Yoga, Pilates, or any other workout. You absolutely need a specialized program that is designed specifically for these muscles. My Dumbbells for Dentistry program does just this. Click HERE to apply.

Working out with low back pain

Aside from neck and shoulder pain, low back pain is another common complaint I run into when I am speaking with dental professionals. This is no surprise being that a lot of your day is spent siting. These leaves for tight hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes (this also stems from a weak core since all of these muscles are connected). Just like neck and shoulder pain, all of these issues are due to, you guessed it, muscle imbalances.

While the list of what to avoid during a working out for back pain is a bit more complex, it’s more important that we dive deep on what to include during your workouts.

Strengthening the glutes and hamstrings is absolutely key but it takes a more strategic approach. Reason being because these muscles each of the have 3 parts to them. Let’s take the glutes for example. Strengthening glutes will help alleviate back pain but it’s important that you hit all three parts of the muscle-the gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius. This is something other workout programs lack.

Next are the hamstrings. If you’ve been to a Chiropractor or a Physical Therapist, I’m sure you’ve heard them tell you “your hamstrings are tight”. Or you might just feel like they are. Similarly to strengthening the glutes, you must strengthen the hamstrings as well. This is done through hinge movements which is something I coach all of my clients on. This is NOT something you can learn on your own as it can make the pain worse if done incorrectly. If you are unsure, you can always schedule a free movement and posture screen with me HERE to learn how.

Last is core strength. I see a lot of dental professionals during movement screens not engaging their core properly and the majority of them do not work their core efficiently during their workouts. On the other hand, when performed properly, strengthening your core will change your life and reduce back pain tremendously if not entirely.


Whether you are dealing with chronic pain or not, you should not be experiencing pain during your workouts. Working out is meant to improve your physical health without pain. By doing workouts that are not specifically geared towards your muscle imbalances, they will only make your pain worse. So, skip the chest and shoulder presses and incorporate workouts that target your back, glutes, and hamstrings to combat pain and help correct those imbalances

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