Effects of combining ergonomic interventions and motor control exercises on muscle activity and kinematics in people with work-related neck–shoulder pain

Man Ha Tsang, Billy C.L. So, Rufina W.L. Lau, Jie Dai, Grace P.Y. Szeto

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study compared the effects of “Ergomotor” intervention and conventional physiotherapy, on influencing the motor control in the neck–shoulder region in people with work-related neck–shoulder pain (WRNSP). Methods: 101 patients (age range 20–54 years) diagnosed with chronic WRNSP were randomized into control (CO) group (n = 50) and Ergomotor (EM) group (n = 51). Each group received a 12-week intervention. Participants in CO group received treatment for pain relief and general exercises. EM group received individualized motor control training and advice of ergonomic modifications at their workplaces. Results: At post-intervention, EM group showed significant reduction of bilateral upper trapezius muscle activity during active neck movements (left: 40–35%, right: 35–27%) and functional tasks such as lifting a weight forward–backward (left: 31–21%, right: 22–14%) and upward–downward (left: 26–23%, right: 20–13%). Cervical erector spinae also showed significant decrease in muscle activity during some phases of the functional tasks (left: 13–6%, right: 10–2%). In contrast, CO group did not show such changes in muscle activity at post-intervention. EM group also showed significant increase in movement velocity and acceleration during active neck movements in all directions (from 18 to 31%), while CO group only showed significant increase in movement velocity in some directions. Both groups reported significant but similar reduction in pain scores, at post-intervention and 1-year follow-up. Conclusions: The present results provided some evidence to support the positive and sustainable benefits of integrating motor control training into the workplace postures and motions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-765
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Electromyography
  • Ergonomics
  • Kinematics
  • Motor control
  • Neck pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)

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