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Targeted Upper Body Exercises Relieve Chronic Neck Pain

Dose-response study finds working out for about nine hours per week decreases pain and disability

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Upper extremity, shoulder and neck endurance and strength training performed for at least 8.75 hours per week is effective in reducing chronic neck pain in female office workers, researchers report in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Riku Nikander, M.Sc., P.T., of the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Tampere, Finland, and colleagues randomized 118 female office workers with chronic neck pain to undergo either strength training or endurance exercises and compared them with 59 controls.

The two training groups had a 12-day rehabilitation with exercise training provided by a physical therapist, and both groups continued exercises at home for 12 months. A training diary and one-month all-time recall questionnaire assessed physical activity, which was then converted into metabolic equivalents (METs).

A decline in neck pain and disability were correlated positively with the amount of specific strength and endurance training. Specific upper limb, shoulder and neck training for more than 8.75 MET hours/week was an effective dose to lower neck pain. One MET-hour of training weekly correlated into a 0.8-mm decrease in neck pain on a visual analog scale and a 0.5-mm drop on a disability index.

"This study revealed that the described specific exercise protocols were associated with decreases in chronic neck pain and disability. The effective dose of training was feasible and safe to perform among female office workers," the authors conclude.

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