Work-related Physical Activity: Boon & Bane!

Research Paper Title

Physical Activity as Cause and Cure of Muscular Pain: Evidence of Underlying Mechanisms.


Work-related physical activity (PA), in terms of peak loads and sustained and/or repetitive contractions, presents risk factors for the development of muscular pain and disorders.

However, PA as a training tailored to the employee’s work exposure, health, and physical capacity offers prevention and rehabilitation.

The researchers suggest the concept of “Intelligent Physical Exercise Training” relying on evidence-based sports science training principles.

Key Points

  • Physical activity (PA) includes the domains of leisure, occupation, and sleep, each having different profiles of intensity, duration, and repetitiveness of muscular activity and, therefore, different effects on musculoskeletal health.
  • Occupational PA often involves static load, repetitive movements, and high peak forces, all of which — if occurring for prolonged duration — are risk factors documented to compromise musculoskeletal health and to causally relate to muscle pain development.
  • Physical exercise training can be planned to obtain health-enhancing effects and can be targeted toward maintaining and improving muscular strength, endurance, and resilience. Recent studies also show effects in pain reduction.
  • An individual’s daily PA profile is the accumulated impact from all the domains of PA and should be balanced to counteract lifestyle diseases, including musculoskeletal disorders.
  • The workplace offers an arena for exercise training that is beneficial for health. Future research must focus on how organisational, motivational, and financial aspects can be addressed across a range of workplaces to promote implementation and improve adherence to attain significant effects.


Søgaard, K. & Sjøgaard, G. (2017) Physical Activity as Cause and Cure of Muscular Pain: Evidence of Underlying Mechanisms. Exercise and Sports Science Reviews. 45(3): 136–145. Published online 2017 Jun 16. doi: 10.1249/JES.0000000000000112.


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