If you’re reading this from your desk at work, chances are you’re doing so with less-than-ideal posture. If so, you might be one of the many office workers with chronic neck and shoulder pain. A short, simple exercise program can significantly lessen that pain, according to a new study, and could even lead to better running.
Thirty Danish office workers with chronic neck and shoulder pain were divided into two groups: one that received information about general health, and one that did a two-minute exercise program every work day for 10 weeks. The “program” was really just one exercise – lateral shoulder raise with a resistance band – done as many times as possible within two minutes. The exercise, also known as shoulder abduction, consists of securing the resistance band, such as a Thera-Band, to the floor, and raising the arms away from the side of the body to a 90-degree angle.
After doing the exercise two minutes per day for ten weeks, the office workers were 6% stronger in the targeted shoulder muscles, but reported 40% less neck and shoulder pain, while symptoms didn’t improve in the non-exercise group. The exercise group also had significantly less muscular tension during normal work days, as measured by electromyography.
These results are strong enough to warrant two minutes per day of your time if you have chronic neck and shoulder pain. On top of that, it’s reasonable to think that reducing muscular tension in the area could help your running. Many people run with their shoulders hunched and head thrust forward because of low-grade chronic tension in the neck and shoulders. Bringing relief to those areas should allow you to get closer to the ideal of head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet aligning when you run.
The video above shows some other at-the-office exercises that should help lessen your job’s effects on your running.