Saddle stools are not “one size fits all” and how you sit in them is different than a traditional stool. Cindy Purdy breaks down how to sit in a saddle stool, how to decide which one is best for you (and no! the ones on Amazon are not for you — that is Michelle’s opinion and not the official Crown Seating statement LOL), and what to expect when you sit in one for a long period of time.
Thank you to Crown Seating for sponsoring this episode and giving one lucky winner the chance to have their own saddle stool! Click this link to join the giveaway!
You can find out more at CrownSeating.com
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This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Cindy Purdy: If you all have been listening to the other ergonomic TIPisodes this month, you will realize that, no, it’s not a rumor. It’s the truth. Crown seating is giving away a saddle stool here on A Tale of Two Hygienists this month.
My name is Cindy Purdy, and I am a registered dental hygienist specializing in ergonomics. I have a ergonomic certificate [sic] from the University of Colorado and a few other certifications that tell everyone that I’m qualified to go into dental offices and assess the situation for developing musculoskeletal disorders. So that is my passion. Ergonomics is my passion, and I want to keep as many of us working in a healthy career as possible.
Today, I’m going to try to use my words to help demonstrate how to adjust a saddle stool properly. There are different shapes and designs now for saddle stools, which we should all be grateful for because since we are not all built the same, our body structure is not the same, we will not all be comfortable in the exact same seat pan design. But how you sit in a saddle stool is still the same no matter what the seat pan design is.
When you approach a saddle stool, for safety reasons, I want you to come from behind or from the side. I don’t want you to try to approach it from the front and kind of scooch your rear end back in there because that could be dangerous, and it also will someday be embarrassing. So approach it from the behind or the side, and you are able to — if you feel it — you know, swing that leg up just like you’re getting on a saddle of a horse. If that makes you feel insecure, you are able to grab that front horn, that front rise, and hold on to the stool because you want to make sure that that stool’s underneath you when you finally sit down.
And then after you sit down, I want you to scooch back just a little bit. I do not want your thighs sitting on the rim or the edge. That will cut off the circulation of your leg. We say, “thighs behind the rise.” And it will be a wide sit. So sit — scooch on back.
And your thighs will not be parallel to the floor when we finally get your height adjusted. You are not sitting in a traditional stool, so you will not be sitting in it the same way.
There are two things that you can adjust. In a quality saddle stool, you should be able to adjust the height and the tilt of the seat pan. So there should be two paddles or at least the ability to adjust both of those things.
As I sai — everyone always asks me “what’s the proper angle? What’s the right degrees for what I’m sitting?” Every — I can tell you that it should be around 135 degrees for the popliteal arch. That popliteal arch is that area behind the knee. But everyone will be a little bit different, and when you first start on a saddle stool, you’re going to feel more comfortable sitting down a little lower. In your head you’re going to feel comfortable. But, in a saddle stool, really if you’re going to error, error on being a little higher because that opens up your chest.
I tell people you will know if your — when you are at the correct height because you will feel your shoulders go back and your chest will open up.
The second thing is the tilt, the tilt of the seat pan. It really should only be — studies are different, but it should be anywhere between 5 and 15 degrees. It is very slight. Many people think “oh, I know how to sit on a saddle stool. You get that — you adjust it higher and you tilt yourself into the patient.” No. It is a very slight tilt. The idea of the tilt is to take your weight and balance it equally on your bones. And it’s a tripod. It’s a triangle of bones that are going to be supporting you. It’s your spine, your pelvis, and your thighs.
And there is a test to see if you’re balanced. The reason we want you to be balanced on bones is because if you have muscle involved or soft tissue involved, those will fatigue and those will start to hurt. So the test, you should be able to pick up both of your feet at the same time and kind of swing them backwards and upwards without leaning backwards — without your back leaning backwards. If you have to lean your back backwards, that means you’re not balanced. I don’t want you squeezing your thighs and holding onto that seat for dear life so that you don’t fall off of it. Everything should be in balance.
So, if you feel like you’re leaning back, then go ahead and pull up that paddle, shift your weight backwards a little bit, and start that whole process over again of picking up your feet, bringing them backward and upward, and seeing if you are having to move your back or your body to compensate to stay on that stool.
There are a few cautions when you’re using a saddle stool. Particularly, saddle soreness is a real thing. You are using muscle that you haven’t used in a long time or maybe ever before. My suggestion is that you alternate with your old chair that you — the old stool you were sitting in maybe every other patient or use your saddle stool in the morning and your old chair in the afternoon. And you may need to do this for three to four days. It’s just like when you get new loupes. You’re using muscle you haven’t used before, so it takes some time to adjust to it.
And you do need to be moving in a saddle stool. In any — it’s another ergonomic principle that you do not — you should not remain static. That’s why it works so well in dentistry because we as hygienists are getting up to take x-rays or process x-rays or let the doctor do an exam or take the patient back up to the front desk. Always be moving. Do not sit static. Do not — if you sit in your saddle stool for eight hours, I guarantee you you will be sore.
And not everyone is the same. As I said, there’s different seat pan designs. Don’t think that every hygienist or every operator in your office should have this exact same saddle stool that you have. It may not fit them. Some are wider. Some are more narrow. The best thing to do is go to a convention — one of the larger conventions and try to sit in as many as you possibly can. And then after you start narrowing down the seat pan designs that fit for you, sit in them for a long time. Come back to them day after day after day if it’s a — if you’re at a convention that’s a couple days long so that you can really determine that this is the design that fits for your body.
So I hope these tips have given you some of the maximum benefits of a saddle stool and so that you can get the maximum comfort out of your saddle stool. Thanks so much for listening.
Michelle Strange: Thanks for listening to another TIPisode. We are excited to announce that you can win a Crown Seating saddle stool. Click the link in our show notes and enter to win. You can also find out more at crownseating.com. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button in your podcast app. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram, and head over to our website, ataleoftwohygienists.com, to sign up for our newsletter. We appreciate all ratings and reviews. Thank you for listening to your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.