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Body mass index 'can affect risk of neck pain'

Cover Media 徽标 Cover Media 2021/4/21

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Neck pain is a growing occupational hazard, with an estimated 80 per cent of jobs requiring employees to spend several hours sitting in front of a computer.

Researchers at Texas A&M University conducted a study to investigate if bad posture is solely to blame for this neck pain, and they discovered that while poor posture is the biggest determinant, body mass index (BMI), age and the time of the day also influence the neck's ability to perform sustained or repeated movements.

"Neck pain is one of the leading and fastest-growing causes of disability in the world," said Xudong Zhang, a professor of industrial and systems engineering. "Our study has pointed to a combination of work and personal factors that strongly influence the strength and endurance of the neck over time. More importantly, since these factors have been identified, they can then be modified so that the neck is in better health and pain is avoided or deterred."

a woman sitting at a table using a laptop computer © Provided by Cover Media

Zhang and his team recruited 20 adult men and 20 adult women with no previous neck-related problems to perform head-neck exertions while wearing an augmented helmet in a lab.

As they expected, the team found that head/neck posture play an important role in determining both neck strength and endurance. However, they also learned that BMI was a significant predictor of neck endurance, and the time of day affected the neck's ability to sustain an exertion without fatigue.

"It is intuitive to think that over the course of the day, our necks get more tired since we use it more," Zhang added. "But roughly half of our participants were tested in the morning and the remaining in the afternoon. Also, some of the participants had day jobs and some worked the night shift. Despite this, we consistently found the time-of-day effect on neck endurance."

The results were published in the journal Human Factors.

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