Neck pain combined with shoulder pain is a common problem among desk workers, particularly those using a desktop computer. One study noted a 50% incidence of neck/shoulder pain over a 1-year period. Lars Andersen PhD and his colleagues in Copenhagen, Denmark, completed a randomized controlled trial of 198 office workers with neck/shoulder pain and tenderness to palpation. The researchers wanted to develop an “exercise program as simple and feasible as possible.”

They chose Thera-Band® elastic tubing with handles for an exercise routine using only 1 exercise for either 2 or 12 minutes. The subjects were randomly assigned to either a non-exercising control group, a 2-minute exercise group, or a 12-minute exercise group. The exercise groups performed a lateral raise exercise in the scapular plane to 90 degrees of abduction with elastic tubing. The exercises were performed 5 days per week (10 minutes and 60 minutes per week in the 2- and 12-minute groups, respectively) for 10 weeks. Female subjects started with Red Thera-Band resistance tubing, while the male subjects started with Green tubing. Both groups gradually increased their repetitions and resistance to Blue Thera-Band resistance tubing. The 2-minute group performed the exercise for one set to failure, while the 12-minute group performed 5 to 6 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

After 10 weeks, both exercise groups significantly reduced their neck/shoulder pain and tenderness, and significantly increased their strength compared to the control group. There was no significant difference between the exercise groups. Training adherence was ~65% for the exercise groups. The researchers concluded that as little as a single set of 2-minute Thera-Band exercise to failure can significantly reduce pain and tenderness in office workers with neck/shoulder pain. These findings have implications for both employees and employers: a simple exercise with Thera-Band tubing performed 10 minutes a week can significantly reduce neck/shoulder pain in office workers, potentially leading to improved productivity and reduced healthcare costs.

REFERENCE: Andersen LL, et al. Effectiveness of small daily amounts of progressive resistance training for frequent neck/shoulder pain: Randomised controlled trial. Pain. 2011 Feb;152(2):440-6.

Disclosure: Thera-Band Academy provided tubing used in this study, but did not provide monetary funding.

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