Chronic, non-traumatic neck pain is a very common complain in deskbound workers in the 21st century. In addition, more and more younger people who have not entered the workforce are also seeing the effects of prolonged use of computer, gaming and paperwork.
If there is something that can be done for these people, fast, convenient and cheap, that would be awesome.
I happened to chance upon a tweet this morning and I thought I should check out the facts before reporting. The good news is, it’s true! Here is the link to the article.
Research has shown that a brief strengthening exercise program, as little as 2 minutes a day, is effective for most people in reducing neck/shoulder pain symptoms.
Protocol: What do you need to do?
- Moderate resistance (use resistance band or weights)
- Raise/lower the arms in approximately 2 seconds, in a controlled manner
- Perform as many consecutive repetitions as possible without pause between repetitions
- At 2 minutes, if you still can continue, terminate the exercise
- 2 minutes/day
- 5 times/week
- Attempt to break you own record (repetitions) on each try
- Every 2 weeks, increase the resistance of your band/weight
- Perform this for 10 weeks
How much pain relief should I expect?
The research suggests that the group who did 2 minute exercise:
- 40% achieved more or equal to 50% pain relief,
- 27% achieved less than 50% pain relief,
- 24% remained the same and
- 9% felt worse
This was how the group who did nothing, fared:
- 13% of the study group achieved more or equal to 50% pain relief,
- 17% achieved less than 50% pain relief,
- 30% remained the same and
- 40% felt worse
Although this group did ‘nothing’, they received weekly e-mailed information on various aspects of general health (physical exercise, advice to stay active in spite of pain, diet, smoking, alcohol use, stress management, workplace ergonomics, and indoor climate). They were also provided internet links with additional relevant information.
Who should try this?
Anybody with neck/shoulder pain over the last 3 months, with at least 30 days of pain in the previous year. Tenderness over the neck/shoulders muscles on self pressure.
Who SHOULD NOT try this?
- Shoulder pain related to shoulder movements/actions. This may suggest that it is a shoulder joint problem, not a postural neck/shoulder problem.
- Symptoms that suggest that you may have ongoing nerve-related problems: numbness, tingling, pins and needles, pain radiating into your upper limbs
In both of these groups, performing these exercises may worsen the condition.
In conclusion, this randomised controlled trial seems to support the use of a cheap, healthy and convenient method to relief pain in the majority of people. For those who do not seem to benefit or gotten worse from 2 minutes of exercise daily, that warrants a comprehensive physiotherapy assessment as muscle weakness may not be the main factor behind the neckpain.
Thank you for reading!