How to Undo Neck Pain

Is using your tablet, smartphone or laptop giving you grief? Try these tips to feel better.

How to Undo Neck Pain

In this age of constant digital connection and late-night scrolling, you may be no stranger to neck pain. Beyond reducing your screen time, here's what to do if you want it to get better: strength train. Research shows that toning and strengthening problem areas may be the best way to keep your neck feeling loose and less sore.­

Oh, my aching…
Neck pain—technically dubbed trapezius myalgia—is a common complaint of people who use tablets, smartphones and computers. Office workers are among those who are particularly prone.

Danish researchers set out to find a good solution. They assigned 42 office workers with neck pain to one of three different treatments. After 10 weeks, a strength-training approach won big-time over cardio exercise or health- and stress-management counseling.

The people in the strength-training group did exercises targeting their neck and shoulders. These consisted of:

  • Arm rows
  • Upright rows
  • Reverse flys
  • Shoulder elevation
  • Shoulder abduction

Altogether, the moves zapped the workers’ neck pain by a whopping 50 percent. Study results were published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009.

Time to hit the gym?
If your trapezius is troubling you, don't trot off to the gym just yet. First, speak with your healthcare provider (HCP) to make sure what you're experiencing is simple neck pain and not something more serious. Then, you can decide together what the best treatment is for your case.

If your pain is related to electronics use, strength training may be the right path. The strengthening group in the Danish study did their neck and arm exercises several times each week. But you should talk with your HCP about what kinds of exercises might make sense for you, as well as how often you should do them.

Your HCP will also likely want to discuss your posture. Why? Poor posture can contribute greatly to neck pain—and the success of your strength training may depend on first correcting it.

Medically reviewed in June 2020. Updated in November 2020.

Sources:

LL Andersen, JL Andersen, et al. “Effect of contrasting physical exercise interventions on rapid force capacity of chronically painful muscles.” Journal of Applied Physiology. 2009 Nov;107(5):1413-9.

More On

Use This Sleep Position for Back Pain

article

Use This Sleep Position for Back Pain
If you've got a testy lower back, here's something you can do in your sleep that might help: Sleep on your side. Health experts say that this positio...
6 Easy Moves to Prevent Back Pain

slideshow

6 Easy Moves to Prevent Back Pain
A physical therapist shares her best exercises for avoiding injury.
Is Your Job a Pain in the Back?

article

Is Your Job a Pain in the Back?
Maybe you think that if you’re not a lumberjack, farmer or construction worker, you won’t have to worry about back pain at work. You’d be wrong, thoug...
Signs Your Back Pain May Be Something More Serious

article

Signs Your Back Pain May Be Something More Serious
Back pain is a common problem, affecting 80 percent of people at some point in their lives. But not everyone's discomfort is the same and some signs a...
6 Simple Things You Can Do to Ease Back Pain Now

article

6 Simple Things You Can Do to Ease Back Pain Now
Chances are you’ve experienced back pain at some point in your life. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans have lower back pain, according to the Am...