Neck pain combined with shoulder pain is a common problem among desk workers, particularly those using a desktop computer. Lars Andersen, PhD, and his colleagues in Copenhagen, Denmark, completed a randomized controlled trial of 198 office workers with neck and shoulder pain, and tenderness to palpation and found that using a Thera-band elastic band to do simple exercise reduced this pain in 50 per cent of the office workers studied.
The trial utilized Thera-Band Elastic Tubing with handles for an exercise routine using only one exercise for either two or 12 minutes. The subjects were randomly assigned to either a non-exercising control group, a two-minute exercise group, or a 12-minute exercise group. The exercise groups performed a lateral raise with the arm slightly in front of the body while using elastic tubing for resistance.The exercises were performed five days per week—10 minutes a week in the two-minute group; 60 minutes per week in the 12-minute group—for 10 weeks. Female participants started with Red (medium) Thera-Band resistance tubing, while the male participants started with Green (heavy) tubing. Both groups gradually increased their repetitions and resistance to Blue (extra heavy) Thera-Band resistance tubing. The two-minute group performed the exercise for one set to failure, that is, with as many consecutive repetitions as possible. The 12-minute group performed five to six sets of eight to 12 repetitions in a progressive manner.
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 approximately 65 per cent for the exercise groups. The researchers concluded that as little as a single set of two-minute Thera-Band exercise to failure can significantly reduce pain and tenderness in office workers with neck/shoulder pain.
“With so many office workers suffering with neck and shoulder pain, most employers likely experience a loss of productivity as well as higher healthcare costs,” stated Lars L. Andersen, PhD, researcher with the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark. “We have previously shown that neck and shoulder pain increases the risk for long-term sickness absence. Although regular physical exercise is a cornerstone for wellness programs, adherence to comprehensive exercise remains low. So we set out to develop an exercise program that was as simple and feasible as possible.”
“These findings have implications for both employees and employers,” continued Dr. Andersen. “A simple resistance exercise program performed two minutes a day can significantly reduce neck/shoulder pain in office workers, potentially leading to improved productivity and reduced healthcare costs.”