Strength training exercises can help women suffering from tenderness and tightness in the upper trapezius muscle. A Danish study has identified five dumbbell exercises aimed at reducing repetitive stain injury caused by office work.

The response from a Danish survey showed more than half of female office workers reported frequent neck pain and more than two-thirds of these suffered from tightness of the trapezius muscle.

Forty-two female office workers participated in the 10-week study. All subjects had suffered chronic or frequent pain in the neck area and tightness and tenderness of the upper trapezius muscle. Of these 42 women, a group of 18 did five exercises with dumbbells. They included one-arm row, shoulder abduction, shoulder elevation, reverse fly and upright row. These exercises isolate the shoulder and the neck muscles, including the trapezius. Three sets of three of these exercises were performed three times per week, and weights were progressively increased throughout the 10 weeks.

This group of women experienced significant changes, including improved rapid force capacity and an increased number of type II muscle fibres, the fibres important in the generation of power. Furthermore, the training helped reduce pain levels by more than 50 per cent.

The findings suggest that the strength training was able to reduce the pain and further enhance the body’s ability to rapidly activate the muscle. Activating the muscle depends upon rapid coordination of nerve signals and it was the nerve signaling that seemed to have improved. The researchers also said that the strength training may have encouraged the women to set aside the fear of pain and thus helped improve performance.

Source: Journal of Applied Physiology