Prolonged Slumped Sitting Causes Neck Pain & Increased Axioscapular Muscle Activity in Healthy Subjects
I’m sure you’ve seen a 3-year (!) spike in the number of your patients slumped over a laptop working from home? In many ways, the pandemic exacerbated a problem that was already nearly ubiquitous in office workers…too much sitting!
There is a common belief that optimal and suboptimal spinal postures exist. However, the relationship between posture and musculoskeletal disorders is a controversial topic. With neck pain specifically, a commonly considered risk factor includes sustained or awkward posture in combination with increased computer work time. In office workers, forward head posture and altered axioscapular muscle activity is found more in those with neck pain compared to those without neck pain. Despite this, it is difficult to ascertain if these differences in posture are causally related or coincidental.
In healthy populations, a prior study showed us that a short duration of computer work in a chair with a back rest can cause pain and discomfort. Furthermore, a flexed sitting position appears to cause higher activity of the cervical erector spinae muscles, as well as increased activity of the trapezius muscles. It is unclear though how pain intensity, pain sensitivity, and muscle activity may change with different sitting postures during a computer task.
This study set out to understand the immediate effect of different sitting postures during a standardized computer task on perceived pain in healthy participants. It was hypothesized that an upright sitting posture with forearm support would cause the least amount of pain, area of pain, and change in pain sensitivity when compared to a sitting posture in a slumped posture without forearm support.
RESEARCH REVIEW: “Prolonged Slumped Sitting Causes Neck Pain & Increased Axioscapular Muscle Activity in Healthy Subjects”
This paper was published in Applied Ergonomics (2023).
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