The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of a six week exercise program to reduce the muscle tone of the trapezius and musculoskeletal discomfort (MED) of office workers. Twenty-six workers performed an exercise program based on: (1) stretching of cervical and/or dorsal region; (2) joint mobility of shoulders and rachis; (3) strengthening deep stabilizer and core muscles; and (4) scapula stabilizing exercises. A Myoton device was used to evaluate trapezius tone and the Cornell Musculoskeletal Discomfort Questionnaire was used to assess changes in MED at three points of evaluation: at the beginning (Pre_1) and at the end of the workday (Post_1), and after the training program (Pre_2). The Wilcoxon test and Cohen's d were performed to examine differences and effect sizes between evaluations. Main results show that trapezius tone remained constant during the workday, but decreased in the dominant upper trapezius (p = 0.003, ES = -0.60) and increased in the non-dominant middle trapezius (p = 0.016, ES = 0.45) after the exercise program, which eliminated significant muscle asymmetries. MED significantly decreased in the neck (p = 0.027, ES = -0.60) and upper back (p = 0.046, ES = -0.67). In conclusion, MED appears to improve in office workers after a six week training program, which may be explained by a decrease in trapezius tone and increase in the left middle trapezius tone.
Keywords: lower back; muscle tone; neck; shoulder; trapezius; upper back; workplace.