2011 Volume 30 Issue 5 Pages 203-207
A high prevalence and incidence of neck and shoulder pain is present in the working population, especially sedentary workers. Recent findings have indicated that the flexion-relaxation (FR) ratio in the cervical erector spinae (CES) muscles might be a significant criteria of neuromuscular impairment and function. Additionally, the active cervical range of motion (ROM) is frequently used for discriminating between individuals with pain and those who are asymptomatic. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between the active cervical ROM and the FR ratio in a sample of regular visual display terminal (VDT) workers. In total, 20 asymptomatic male VDT workers were recruited. Active cervical ROM was measured by a cervical ROM (CROM) instrument. Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to collect myoelectrical signals from the CES muscles, and the FR ratio was calculated for statistical analysis. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to quantify the linear relationship between the active cervical ROM and the FR ratio. The values obtained for the FR ratio in the right CES muscles correlated significantly with the active cervical ROM measured in flexion (r=0.73, p<0.01), left lateral flexion (r=0.64, p<0.01), and left rotation (r=0.60, p<0.01). Flexion (r=0.74, p<0.01) and right lateral flexion (r=0.61, p<0.01) positively correlated with the left FR ratio. Extension and right rotation showed either a very weak or no correlation with the mean value of the right and left FR ratio. Our findings suggested that the cervical FR ratio had a positive correlation with cervical movements, and that changes of the activation patterns in CES demonstrated as cervical FR ratio are associated with reduction of the cervical range of motion including flexion and lateral flexion. In addition, muscular dysfunction of the CES could occur in regular computer workers prior to occurrence of pain; this means that the FR ratio could be used to evaluate the potential risk of neck discomfort in computer workers.