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Rehabilitation of neck/shoulder muscle pain (RAMIN)

Musculoskeletal disorders are often reported in occupations with sedentary repetitive work patterns. Different risk factors have been identified in the work environment. Yet, our knowledge regarding the underlying mechanisms of the disorders is still sparse, making it difficult to design work environment effective interventions as well as to identify optimal medical treatments or preventive strategies. In recent years, physical inactivity and the consequences thereof has gained a lot of attention. Also, regular exercise has proven to reduce the risks of a number of chronic diseases such as cardio-vascular diseases, certain forms of cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. However, our knowledge on the effect of physical activity on musculoskeletal disorders is limited.

The National Research Centre for the Working Environment has carried out an investigation on the rehabilitation of neck muscle pain (in Danish: RAMIN). Individuals, who were otherwise healthy but complaining of severe pains from the neck/shoulder region and who were still actively working, participated in the study. Individuals suffering from disorders such as degenerative joint disease, neurological disorders, fibromyalgia, or prolapsed discs of the neck were excluded.

Exercise helped

Many of the participants experienced relief of their neck or shoulder pains after using the exercises described below.
 
It is important that the exercises are executed correctly. Hence, we present a description as well as a video instruction on how to execute the exercises.
 
To view the exercise from the front and from the side, click on the blue text.

To visualize the effect of the exercises, you can use the attached training diary

You should be aware of the following:

  • When you start exercising it is normal to get sore muscles. The soreness will ease off within a couple of hours after each training pass. After about 2 weeks of exercising, the soreness after each training pass will lessen, and over time your muscles will no longer feel sore. 
  • Pain around the elbow (also known as tennis or golf elbow) can be intensified by lifting weights. If such pain occurs, you should seek help to relief your joints or to get alternative exercises from an expert, like a training physiologist, instructor, or physiotherapist. 
  • If any of the exercises feel uncomfortable, skip them or seek advice from an expert. 
  • If the pains in your muscles are intensified instead of reduced, you should seek advice from your physician. 
  • If you have any doubts whether the exercises implies a risk to you, you should seek advice from your physician.

Exercises


1. Shrugs
Shrugs

Video, frontal view / Video, profile view

Stand upright with the hand weights at the side of your body. In one even motion, lift your shoulders up towards your ears and lower them again slowly. At the same time, try to relax your jaw and neck.
Recommended weight for beginners: 8 – 12 kg.
 
2. 1-arm row
1-arm row

Video, one arm pull

Stand with one knee on the bench and lean on the same-side hand on the front of the bench. With the free arm you pull the weight up towards your lower chest. When the weight touches your chest, lower it in a controlled motion.
Recommended weight for beginners: 6 – 10 kg.

3. Upright row
Upright row

Video, frontal view / Video, profile view

Stand upright with your arms stretched and the hand weights in front of your body. Lift the weights in a straight line as close to your body as possible, until they reach the middle of your chest and your elbows point up and out. During the whole exercise, the hand weights should be placed lower than the elbows.
Recommended weight for beginners: 2 – 5 kg.

4. Reverse flyes
Reverse flyes

video, frontal view / Video, profile view

Lie down on a bench in a 45° forward bent angle with the hand weights hanging towards the floor. Lift the weights outward and upward until they are horizontal, and then lower the weights in one controlled motion. During the exercise, the elbows should be slightly bent (~5°).
Recommended weight for beginners: 1 – 3 kg.

5. Shoulder abduction
Shoulder abduction

Video, frontal view / Video, profile view

Stand upright with the hand weights at the side of your body. Lift the weights outward and upward until they are horizontal, and then lower the weights in one controlled motion. During the exercise, the elbows should be slightly bent (~5°).
Recommended weight for beginners: 2 – 4 kg.

Optimally, exercises should be performed 3 times per week, alternating between exercises 1, 2, and 5 on one day and exercises 1, 3, and 4 on another day. At the beginning, you should perform 2 sets of each exercise with 12 repetitions. You then increase to 3 sets. After 4 weeks you can reduce the number of repetitions on the last sets to 8-10 repetitions, in order to further increase the weight.

In general, you increase the weight as soon as you feel it is manageable to execute all 3 sets with the given number of repetitions. 

Link to Diary for strength training of the neck 

"The project is carried out in collaboration with Institute of Sports Medicine and Department of Occupational Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital; Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital; and Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Linkoping, Sweden. The project is financed in part by the Danish Rheumatism Association and Danish Medical Research Council".
 
For more information
For more information, please contact scientist Lars L. Andersen, Tel (+45) 3916 5319 or E-mail: lla@nrcwe.dk.

 29.04.2009
Contact: NRCWE web editors
 
 
 
 

National Research Centre for the Working Environment | Lersø Parkallé 105 | DK-2100 Copenhagen O | Denmark |

Phone +45 3916 5200 | fax +45 3916 5201 | e-mail: nfa@arbejdsmiljoforskning.dk | CVR: 15413700 | EAN: 5798000399518