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Rx for Office Pains: Strength Exercises

Neck, shoulder discomfort eased, function improved after 10-week program, researchers say

MONDAY, Nov. 30, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Strength exercises can reduce neck and shoulder pain caused by office work, a new study claims.

It included 42 Danish female office workers who performed repetitive tasks and computer work. All of them suffered chronic or frequent pain in the neck area, and tightness and tenderness of the upper trapezius muscle, the large muscle that extends from the back of the head, down the neck and into the upper back.

The women were randomly divided into three groups:

  • Strength training using dumbbells to do five types of exercises designed to strengthen the shoulder and back muscles, including the trapezius. The exercises included the one-arm row, shoulder abduction, shoulder elevation, reverse fly and upright row.
  • General fitness training using a stationary exercise bicycle.
  • A control group that did not exercise but received counseling on ergonomics, diet, health, relaxation and stress management.

After 10 weeks, the women in the strength exercise group had a more than 50 percent reduction in neck and shoulder pain. They also had improved function in the trapezius muscle, which showed improved ability to respond quickly and forcefully.

The study is published in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

More information

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation offers tips for preventing neck pain.

SOURCE: American Physiological Society, news release, Nov. 18, 2009
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