Nordic walking and specific strength training for neck- and shoulder pain in office workers: a pilot-study

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2017 Dec;53(6):928-935. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.17.04623-8. Epub 2017 Jun 1.


Background: More than half of all adults have experienced neck pain during the last six months. Studies have demonstrated reduced pain in the neck-and shoulder region after specific strength training of the affected muscles, but specific endurance training of neck and shoulder muscles has not been properly examined.

Aim: To examine the impact of Nordic walking (NW) compared to specific strength training (ST) and a non-training control group (Con) on self-reported neck-and shoulder pain among office workers.

Design: Randomized intervention trial with a stratified control group.

Settings: University research laboratory.

Population: Thirty-four female office workers with neck- and shoulder pain.

Methods: The participants were allocated to NW, ST or Con. Pain intensity (0-100 mm Visual Analog Scale), isometric abduction strength and a Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) were assessed pre, post and 10 weeks postintervention. Both training groups attended the training programs twice per week for ten weeks (30 minutes per session).

Results: Both training groups demonstrated a similar (P=0.421-0.802), but significant reduction in pain intensity (P=0.014-0.018). Between post-test and the 10 weeks postintervention test, similar pain intensity was observed in the NW (P=0.932) while the ST demonstrated an increase (P=0.136). Throughout the testing period, no difference in pain was observed for the Con (P=0.724-1.000) or between the Con and the training groups (P=0.421-0.802). No changes in strength and 6MWT were observed between or within the groups (P=0.184-0.870).

Conclusions: Both NW and ST reduced pain for office workers with low neck-and shoulder pain and appear to be useful exercise modalities for this group.

Clinical rehabilitation impact: Both interventions reduced pain, but larger randomized studies should verify these findings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Neck Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Resistance Training*
  • Shoulder Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Walking*