Online exercise added to ergonomic advice for reducing habitual upper body postures: a randomized trial

Razieh Karimian, Kim Burton, Mohammad Mehdi Naghizadeh, Maryam Karimian, Mostafa Sobhanipur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with unfavorable habitual upper body postures. Objective: This study explored whether adding a remedial exercise routine to an ergonomic advice intervention, delivered remotely, is helpful for reducing habitual postures of the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Design: Pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Methods: 42 male adolescent students, initially selected with a forward head posture, were randomized to one of two intervention groups: ergonomic advice alone or exercise + ergonomic advice. Outcome measures were specific postural angles of, measured by a photogrammetric profile technique using a bespoke app before and after the 8-week intervention period. Results: During online learning, most students used mobile phones (76%), while 35% used a table-chair-computer arrangement. At 8-week follow-up, a statistically significant reduction of forward head, shoulder protraction, and thoracic kyphosis angles was found in both groups (P < 0.001). However, the effect was significantly greater in the exercise + ergonomic advice group (P < 0.001): forward head, shoulder protraction, and thoracic kyphosis angles reduced by some 9, 6, and 5° respectively, compared with 4° for head and 2° for shoulder and thoracic angles for the ergonomic advice alone group. Conclusion: The results show that, a remedial online exercise routine is a beneficial addition to an ergonomic advice program for improving unfavorable habitual upper body postures. The impact of this intervention may extend beyond postural issues related just to online learning at home.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102979
Number of pages7
JournalMusculoskeletal Science and Practice
Early online date27 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 May 2024

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