The Mayo Clinic website states that most people will experience neck pain at least once during their lives. Oftentimes a result of prolonged static seated positions and poor posture, neck pain can negatively affect quality of life and is often responsible for missed workdays. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2009; 107, 1413–19) has found that specific strength training exercises may help women office workers reduce perceived neck pain.

The study included 42 women office workers who performed repetitive tasks and worked with computers. They were split into a specific strength training (ST) group, general fitness (GF) group and nonexercise (NE) control group. The ST group used dumbbells to perform the following exercises: one-arm row, shoulder abduction, shoulder elevation, reverse flye and upright row. The women performed three sets of three of the exercises three times per week; resistance level was determined by each woman’s individual capacity. The 16 members of the GF group rode a stationary bicycle for 20 minutes three times per week. The remaining women received individual and group counseling that included education on ergonomics, nutrition and more.

At the end of the 10-week study the ST group expressed a 50% reduction in pain levels. Minimal, if any, changes were experienced in the GF and NE groups.

“These results demonstrated increased rapid force capacity of chronically painful muscles in response to rehabilitation with specific strength training,” stated the authors. “Potentially, this method can be added to the umbrella of clinical screening tools used for assessment of muscle function in
rehabilitation settings.”