Do you work in an office or spend time each day on the computer? If so, then more than likely you’ve suffered from a headache or neck and shoulder pain at some point in the past few weeks — all related to the tension of daily life. Even if you’re not the one in pain, guaranteed you’ve heard one of your colleagues or your spouse complain about their aching head. These seemingly minor aches and pains that we endure may lead to us calling in sick, loss of productivity and even disability. Not something any of us can afford these days, that’s for sure!
There are lots of remedies out there to reduce stress, and loosen up your neck and shoulder muscles, but how many of them really work, plus are easy to do, inexpensive and don’t take a lot of time? Unfortunately, not too many.
Just 2 Minutes a Day Is All It Takes
One of the best ways to reduce stress and tension is exercise — we all know that — but we don’t all make time in our day for it. However, based on some research, we now know that a short two-minute exercise routine each day can significantly reduce tension-related headaches in people with neck and shoulder pain. The best part about this two-minute solution is that it can be done right at home or even at your desk.
The study that produced these seemingly amazing results was conducted in Denmark with 198 office workers who complained of neck and shoulder pain.
It’s important to note that the pain these employees experienced was not due to some type of traumatic injury or chronic disease — just plain, old stress and tension. The kind that can make staying focused and productive challenging.
The study participants were split into three groups. The first group performed two minutes of resistance training each day with elastic tubing, commonly known as resistance bands. The second group spent 12 minutes a day (a much more sizeable amount of time in comparison), and the last group simply received weekly information on general health.
After 10 weeks in the study, and completing a weekly questionnaire, it showed that only two minutes was needed to reduce reported headaches by 43 percent. Now, if the employee took an extra 10 minutes and spent 12 minutes a day, headaches were reduced by 56 percent. But finding two minutes a day may be easier for many people than 12 minutes a day.
As a side note, while the study reported that the frequency of headaches dropped, the study participants who continued to have headaches reported that they occurred at the same intensity and duration as before. However, this isn’t enough to discount the study results, as a nearly 50 percent drop in the frequency of headaches make this simple strategy worth considering.
Resistance Bands Are Simple and Cost-Effective
The study included a brief introductory session for the participants who used the elastic tubing, i.e., resistance bands. These low-intensity exercises focused on cervicoscapular muscle control, or, in layman’s terms, the area between the neck and shoulder.
Although the study didn’t specify exactly which exercises were performed in the two-minute time period, a few easy exercises that make sense are simply holding the band in front of you at shoulder height and stretching it out slowly for three sets of 10.
Do the same at waist height with bent elbows, and then repeat this same simple exercise above your head. The key is to move slowly and not to tense your muscles too much when you’re stretching. Keep your shoulders as relaxed as possible, and don’t forget to breathe.
There are many types of elastic or resistance bands available on the Internet and in stores. The brand used in the study is made by Hygenic Corporation and can be found under the popular Thera-Band brand name. And if you go to Amazon.com, you can buy them for less than $15 per band. This is the perfect place to start with this simple resistance training.
By the way, there weren’t any noticeable differences in the study based on gender or age. That means you’re never too old or too young to put these simple exercises to use. Headaches don’t discriminate and neither did the results of the study.
Share the Health
This simple exercise is easy to share with friends and family. In fact, these results are something that every human resources department in the country should be shouting from the rooftops.
It’s always amazing how simple changes in your daily life can make a huge difference in your quality of life. And at only two minutes a day, that’s an investment worth making.
 LL Andersen, et al. Effect of brief daily exercise on headache among adults – secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2011 Mar 8. Epub ahead of print: 1-4.