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Vol. 22. Num. 2.
Pages 95-174 (01 March 2018)
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Vol. 22. Num. 2.
Pages 95-174 (01 March 2018)
Original Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.09.003
Effects of stretching exercise training and ergonomic modifications on musculoskeletal discomforts of office workers: a randomized controlled trial
Ardalan Shariata,b,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author at: Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia.
, Joshua A. Clelandc, Mahmoud Danaeed, Mehdi Kargarfarde, Bahram Sangelajif, Shamsul Bahri Mohd Tamrina
a Department of Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia
b Sports Medicine Research Center, Neuroscience Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
c Franklin Pierce University, Manchester, NH, USA
d Academic Development Center, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
e Department of Exercise Physiology, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran
f School of Physiotherapy, Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Ergonomic modification and exercise improve discomfort for office workers.

  • Introduce a package of exercise training that can be used as a treatment for MSDs.

  • Office workers should spend at least 15min each day to do some exercises.

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Figures (1)
Tables (4)
Table 1. Demographic and baseline characteristics of participants in each group (N=142) (male=47, female=95).
Table 2. Scores of pain, based on Cornell questionnaire in baseline and follow-up (N=142).
Table 3. Pairwise comparisons across time for all control and intervention groups (within group comparison).
Table 4. Between-group differences and 95% CI for the effects of interventions.
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To evaluate the effectiveness of exercise, ergonomic modification, and a combination of training exercise and ergonomic modification on the scores of pain in office workers with neck, shoulders, and lower back pain.


Participants (N=142) in this randomized controlled trial were office workers aged 20–50 years old with neck, shoulders, and lower back pain. They were randomly assigned to either the ergonomic modification group, the exercise group, the combined exercise and ergonomic modification group, or the control group (no-treatment). The exercise training group performed a series of stretching exercises, while the ergonomic group received some modification in the working place. Outcome measures were assessed by the Cornell Musculoskeletal Disorders Questionnaire at baseline, after 2, 4, and 6 months of intervention.


There was significant differences in pain scores for neck (MD −10.55; 95%CI −14.36 to −6.74), right shoulder (MD −12.17; 95%CI −16.87 to −7.47), left shoulder (MD −11.1; 95%CI −15.1 to −7.09) and lower back (MD −7.8; 95%CI −11.08 to −4.53) between the exercise and control groups. Also, significant differences were seen in pain scores for neck (MD −9.99; 95%CI −13.63 to −6.36), right shoulder (MD −11.12; 95%CI −15.59 to −6.65), left shoulder (MD −10.67; 95%CI −14.49 to −6.85) and lower back (MD −6.87; 95%CI −10 to −3.74) between the combined exercise and ergonomic modification and control groups. The significant improvement from month 4 to 6, was only seen in exercise group (p<0.05).


To have a long term effective on MSDs, physical therapists and occupational therapists should use stretching exercises in their treatment programs rather than solely rely on ergonomic modification.

Clinical trial ID


Musculoskeletal disorders
Stretching exercise
Ergonomic modification
Physical therapy


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