Shoulder strain in keyboard workers and its alleviation by arm supports

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1988;60(2):119-24. doi: 10.1007/BF00381492.


Keyboard work consists mostly of dynamic contractions of the small muscles of the forearms and hands. This is accompanied by continuous activity in the arm, shoulder and neck muscles keeping the head and hand in the correct position. Eliminating the weight from the arm by means of support and the position of the arms influences the electrical activity of shoulder muscles when working at a keyboard. We studied the influence of elbow angle; as well as that of different arm supports, on electrical activity of upper trapezius muscle during keyboard work in healthy workers and persons suffering from shoulder pains. The measurements were carried out in the laboratory. EMG activities, which where measured as mean square root (RMS)-values at every 100-millisecond period in trapezius muscle when working, were lower, the greater the elbow angle. Furthermore electrical activity decreased when subjects used arm supports while working. It is evident that the static load to shoulder muscles can be lowered significantly in keyboard work, when the forearms are at an angle of at least 100 degrees and by using arm supports. The most convienient and ergonomic working position can also be found individually be the method used here.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Shoulder / pathology
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical