Specific Strength Training Relieves Chronic Neck Pain

Neck pain has become increasingly prevalent over the past two decades and is now second only to back pain, the most common musculoskeletal disorder and most common cause of disability in working Americans. Women are more likely to suffer from neck pain than are men, especially those who engage in repetitive tasks such as working at a computer keyboard. Previous studies have not proven whether or not exercise alone can treat neck pain. . However, a recent study in Arthritis Care and Research found that specific strength training exercises led to significant prolonged relief of neck muscle pain while general fitness training resulted in only minor pain reduction.

During the study, researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial with 94 women from seven workplaces in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 2005 and 2006. Participants were questioned about their neck pain and underwent a physical exam to confirm the diagnosis of trapezius myalgia.

Participants were assigned to three intervention groups: those who did supervised strength training for the neck and shoulders, those who did high-intensity general fitness training on an exercise bicycle, and a control group with no training.

The study showed that the general fitness training produced a small decrease in neck muscle pain only immediately after exercise, while the supervised strength training group showed a decrease in pain over a prolonged period.

 The authors state that the reduction in pain in the strength training group is important. They conclude that, "Based on the present results, supervised high-intensity dynamic strength training of the painful muscle 3 times a week for 20 minutes should be recommended in the treatment of trapezius myalgia."


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