Send to

Choose Destination
Scand J Work Environ Health. 2013 Jul;39(4):390-400. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3357. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

The effect of work-related sustained trapezius muscle activity on the development of neck and shoulder pain among young adults.

Author information

National Institute of Occupational Health, PO Box 8149 Dep, 0033 Oslo, Norway.



This study aimed to evaluate if sustained trapezius muscle activity predicts neck and shoulder pain over a 2.5-year period.


Forty young adults (15 hairdressers, 14 electricians, 5 students and 6 with various work) were followed during their first years of working life. Self-reported neck and shoulder pain during the last four weeks was assessed seven times over the observational period. Upper-trapezius muscle activity was measured during a full working day by bilateral surface electromyography (EMG) at baseline (winter 2006/7). Sustained trapezius muscle activity was defined as continuous muscle activity with amplitude >0.5% EMGmax lasting >4 minutes. The relative time of sustained muscle activity during the working day was calculated and further classified into low (0-29%), moderate (30-49%) and high (50-100%) level groups.


Generalized estimating equations (GEE), adjusted for time, gender, mechanical workload, control-over-work intensity, physical activity, tobacco use, and prior neck and shoulder pain, showed that participants with a high level of sustained muscle activity had a rate of neck and shoulder pain three times higher than the low level group during a 2.5-year period. The association was strongest at the same time and shortly after the EMG measurement, indicating a time-lag of ≤6 months.


The results support the hypothesis that sustained trapezius muscle activity is associated with neck and shoulder pain. This association was strongest analyzing cross-sectional and short-term effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health
Loading ...
Support Center