Impact of Stretching Exercises on Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders: A Systematic Review

Qais Gasibat, Babina Rani, Denis Causevic, Seth Spicer, Reniery Pereira da Silva, Yu Xiao, Xiang Changqing, Nabilah Binti Ahmad, Agiela E Rafieda


Objective: This study aims to compile the latest information concerning workplace stretching regimens and to give a panoramic view of their effectiveness in reducing work-related Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Methods: Searching MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PEDro, Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar, SPORTDiscus and PubMed databases from 2010 to 2022 found 723 eligible studies, based on predefined inclusion criteria. Results: In the review, 14 included studies recruited subjects aged >18 years, with males (n=813), females (n=5141), and some research did not identify gender (n=3). The included studies were of both high (n=6) and low quality (n=8). Seven studies revealed stretching exercises to be an effective and safe non-pharmacological intervention for MSDs, and one study included an active control group observed better improvement in the treatment group. Four trials showed a significant effect from stretching exercises as a stand-alone treatment. Three studies revealed that stretching exercises had a meaningful and major effect on MSDs complaints, while two studies reported no significant results when utilizing Anti-fatigue mats in addition to stretching. Conclusion: The current study indicated that stretching exercises are a crucial and useful technique for preventing and treating pain and function in Work-related MSDs affecting the neck, shoulder, back, etc. Workplace/ergonomic changes can enhance the results of stretching exercises.


Muscle Stretching Exercises Musculoskeletal Diseases, Occupational Groups, Ergonomics, Workplace

Full Text:



Adam, K., Gibson, L., & Cook, M. (2016). Injury prevention in the meat industry: Limited evidence of effectiveness for ergonomic programs in reducing the severity of musculoskeletal injuries. Australian occupational therapy journal, 63(1), 59-60. 1111/1440-1630.12276

Aghazadeh, J., Ghaderi, M., Azghani, M. R., Khalkhali, H. R., Allahyari, T., & Mohebbi, I. (2015). Anti-fatigue mats, low back pain, and electromyography: An interventional study. International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health, 28(2), 347-356.

Aje, O. O., Smith-Campbell, B., & Bett, C. (2018). Preventing musculoskeletal disorders in factory workers: evaluating a new eight minute stretching program. Workplace Health & Safety, 66(7), 343-347.

Alnaser M. Z. (2015). Occupational therapy practitioners with occupational musculoskeletal injuries: prevalence and risk factors. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 25,763-769.

Amoudi, M., & Ayed, A. (2021). Effectiveness of stretching exercise program among nurses with neck pain: Palestinian perspective. Science Progress, 104(3), 1-10.

Birch, L., Arendt-Nielsen, L., Graven-Nielsen, T., & Christensen, H. (2001). An investigation of how acute muscle pain modulates performance during computer work with digitizer and puck. Applied Ergonomics, 32(3), 281-286.

Blangsted, A. K., Søgaard, K., Hansen, E. A., Hannerz, H., & Sjøgaard, G. (2008). One-year randomized controlled trial with different physical-activity programs to reduce musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck and shoulders among office workers. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 34(1), 55-65.

Buchner, M., Zahlten‐Hinguranage, A., Schiltenwolf, M., & Neubauer, E. (2006). Therapy outcome after multidisciplinary treatment for chronic neck and chronic low back pain: a prospective clinical study in 365 patients. Scandinavian journal of rheumatology, 35(5), 363-367.

Burns, P. B., Rohrich, R. J., & Chung, K. C. (2011). The levels of evidence and their role in evidence-based medicine. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 128(1), 305-310.

Chen, H. M., Wang, H. H., Chen, C. H., & Hu, H. M. (2014). Effectiveness of a stretching exercise program on low back pain and exercise self-efficacy among nurses in Taiwan: a randomized clinical trial. Pain Management Nursing, 15(1), 283-291.

Cho, C. Y., Hwang, Y. S., & Cherng, R. J. (2012). Musculoskeletal symptoms and associated risk factors among office workers with high workload computer use. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological therapeutics, 35(7), 534 -540.

Crenshaw, A. G., Djupsjöbacka, M., & Svedmark, Å. (2006). Oxygenation, EMG and position sense during computer mouse work. Impact of active versus passive pauses. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 97, 59-67.

Cruz-Ferreira, A., Fernandes, J., Laranjo, L., Bernardo, L. M., & Silva, A. (2011). A systematic review of the effects of pilates method of exercise in healthy people. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 92(12), 2071 -2081.

Cunha, A. C. V., Burke, T. N., França, F. J. R., & Marques, A. P. (2008). Effect of global posture reeducation and of static stretching on pain, range of motion, and quality of life in women with chronic neck pain: a randomized clinical trial. Clinics, 63(6), 763-770.

Da Costa, B. R., & Vieira, E. R. (2008). Stretching to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders: a systematic review. Journal of Rehabilitation medicine, 40(5), 321-328.

De Morton, N. A. (2009). The PEDro scale is a valid measure of the methodological quality of clinical trials: a demographic study. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 55(2), 129-133.

del Pozo-Cruz B, Gusi N, del Pozo-Cruz J, Adsuar JC, Hernandez-Mocholí M, Parraca JA. (2013). Clinical effects of a nine-month web-based intervention in subacute non specific low back pain patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical rehabilitation, 27 (1):28-39.

Fraeulin, L., Holzgreve, F., Haenel, J., Filmann, N., Schmidt, H., Bader, A., Frei, M., Groneberg, D.A., van Mark, A. & Ohlendorf, D. (2021). A device-based stretch training for office workers resulted in increased range of motion especially at limited baseline flexibility. Work, 68(2), 353-364.

Galinsky, T. L., Swanson, N. G., Sauter, S. L., Hurrell, J. J., & Schleifer, L. M. (2000). A field study of supplementary rest breaks for data-entry operators. Ergonomics, 43(5), 622-638.

Gartley, R. M., & Prosser, J. L. (2011). Stretching to prevent musculoskeletal injuries: An approach to workplace wellness. AAOHN journal, 59(6), 247-252.

Gasibat, Q., Simbak, N. B., Aziz, A. A., Petridis, L., & Tróznai, Z. (2017). Stretching exercises to prevent work related musculoskeletal disorders: A review article. AJSSM, 5(2), 27-37.

Healy, G. N., Eakin, E. G., LaMontagne, A. D., Owen, N., Winkler, E. A., Wiesner, G., Gunning, L., Neuhaus, M., Lawler, S., Fjeldsoe, B.S. & Dunstan, D. W. (2013). Reducing sitting time in office workers: short-term efficacy of a multicomponent intervention. Preventive medicine, 57(1), 43-48.

Holzgreve, F., Maltry, L., Hänel, J., Schmidt, H., Bader, A., Frei, M., Filmann, N., Groneberg, D.A., Ohlendorf, D. & van Mark, A. (2020). The office work and stretch training (Ost) study: an individualized and standardized approach to improve the quality of life in office workers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(12), 4522.

Hush, J. M., Michaleff, Z., Maher, C. G., & Refshauge, K. (2009). Individual, physical and psychological risk factors for neck pain in Australian office workers: a 1-year longitudinal study. European spine journal, 18(10), 1532-1540.

Irmak, A., & Irmak, R. (2012). The effects of exercise reminder software program on office workers’ perceived pain level, work performance and quality of life. Work, 41(Supplement 1), 5692-5695.

King, A., Campbell, J., James, C., & Duff, J. (2020). A workplace stretching program for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in perioperative staff: A mixed-methods implementation study. ACORN Journal of Perioperative Nursing., 33(4), E3-E10.

Korhonen, T., Ketola, R., Toivonen, R., Luukkonen, R., Häkkänen, M., & Viikari-Juntura, E. (2003). Work related and individual predictors for incident neck pain among office employees working with video display units. Occupational and environmental medicine, 60(7), 475-482.

Lacaze, D. H. D. C., Sacco, I. D. C., Rocha, L. E., Pereira, C. A. D. B., & Casarotto, R. A. (2010). Stretching and joint mobilization exercises reduce call-center operators' musculoskeletal discomfort and fatigue. Clinics, 65(7), 657-662.

Leclerc, A., Chastang, J. F., Taiba, R., Pascal, P., Cyr, D., Plouvier, S., & Descatha, A. (2016). Musculoskeletal pain at various anatomical sites and socioeconomic position: results of a national survey. Revue d'epidemiologie et de sante publique, 64(5), 331-339. respe.2016.04.035

Lee, J. H., & Gak, H. B. (2014). Effects of self stretching on pain and musculoskeletal symptom of bus drivers. Journal of physical therapy science, 26(12), 1911-1914.

Lowe, B. D., Shaw, P. B., Wilson, S. R., Whitaker, J. R., Witherspoon, G. J., Hudock, S. D., Barrero, M., Ray, T.K. & Wurzelbacher, S. J. (2017). Evaluation of a workplace exercise program for control of shoulder disorders in overhead assembly work. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 59(6), 563-570.

Lucas, H. I., García López, C., Hernández Parrodi, J. C., Vollprecht, D., Raulf, K., Pomberger, R., Pretz, T. & Friedrich, B. (2019). Quality assessment of nonferrous metals recovered by means of landfill mining: A case study in Belgium. Detritus, 8(December), 79-90.

Maakip, I., Keegel, T., & Oakman, J. (2016). Prevalence and predictors for musculoskeletal discomfort in Malaysian office workers: Investigating explanatory factors for a developing country. Applied ergonomics, 53, 252-257.

Machado-Matos, M., & Arezes, P. M. (2016). Impact of a workplace exercise program on neck and shoulder segments in office workers. Dyna, 83(196), 63-68.

Marangoni, A. H. (2010). Effects of intermittent stretching exercises at work on musculoskeletal pain associated with the use of a personal computer and the influence of media on outcomes. Work, 36(1), 27-37.

Mehrparvar, A. H., Heydari, M., Mirmohammadi, S. J., Mostaghaci, M., Davari, M. H., & Taheri, M. (2014). Ergonomic intervention, workplace exercises and musculoskeletal complaints: a comparative study. Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 28, 69.

Moreira-Silva, I., Santos, R., Abreu, S., & Mota, J. (2014). The effect of a physical activity program on decreasing physical disability indicated by musculoskeletal pain and related symptoms among workers: a pilot study. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 20(1), 55-64.

Moseley, A. M., Herbert, R. D., Sherrington, C., & Maher, C. G. (2002). Evidence for physiotherapy practice: a survey of the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro). Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 48(1), 43-49.

Mueller, G. F., & Hassenzahl, M. (2010). Sitting comfort of ergonomic office chairs developed versus intuitive evaluation. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 16(3), 369-374.

Nakphet, N., Chaikumarn, M., & Janwantanakul, P. (2014). Effect of different types of rest break interventions on neck and shoulder muscle activity, perceived discomfort and productivity in symptomatic VDU operators: a randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 20(2), 339-353.

Oka, H., Nomura, T., Asada, F., Takano, K., Nitta, Y., Uchima, Y., Sato, T., Kawase, M., Sawada, S., Sakamoto, K., Yasue, M., Arima, S., Katsuhira, J., Kawamata, K., Fujii, T., Tanaka, S., Konishi, H., Okazaki, H., Miyoshi, K., … & Matsudaira, K. (2019). The effect of the ‘One Stretch’exercise on the improvement of low back pain in Japanese nurses: A large-scale, randomized, controlled trial. Modern rheumatology, 29(5), 861-866.

Owada, Y., Furuya, K., Kim, J., Moue, S., Miyazaki, Y., Doi, M., ... & Oda, T. (2022). Prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among general surgeons in Japan. Surgery Today, 52(10), 1423-1429.

Padula RS, Oliveira AB, Carregaro RL, Sato TO. (2016). Physical therapy in occupational health and ergonomics: practical applications and innovative research approaches. Braz J Phys Ther. 20(05), 490-492.

Piranveyseh, P., Motamedzade, M., Osatuke, K., Mohammadfam, I., Moghimbeigi, A., Soltanzadeh, A., & Mohammadi, H. (2016). Association between psychosocial, organizational and personal factors and prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in office workers. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 22(2), 267-273.

Prima, D. W., Setyaningsih, Y., & Lestantyo, D. (2022). The Effect of Anti-Fatigue Mat and Stretching on Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) Complaints of Sewing Operator PT.X. Jurnal Aisyah: Jurnal Ilmu Kesehatan, 7(S1), 207-212.

Puppin MA, Marques AP, Silva AG, Futuro Neto HD. (2011). Alongamento muscular na dor lombar crônica inespecífica: uma estratégia do método GDS. Fisioterapia e Pesquisa, 18(2), 116-21.

Purepong, N., Channak, S., Boonyong, S., Thaveeratitham, P., & Janwantanakul, P. (2015). The effect of an acupressure backrest on pain and disability in office workers with chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled study and patients’ preferences. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 23(3), 347-355.

Repo, J. P., Tukiainen, E. J., Roine, R. P., Sampo, M., Sandelin, H., & Häkkinen, A. H. (2019). Rasch analysis of the Lower Extremity Functional Scale for foot and ankle patients. Disability and Rehabilitation, 41(24), 2965-2971.

Richards, E., Van Kessel, G., Virgara, R., & Harris, P. (2012). Does antenatal physical therapy for pregnant women with low back pain or pelvic pain improve functional outcomes? A systematic review. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica, 91(9), 1038-1045.

Roberts A, Harris K, Outen B, et al. Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine: A Brief Review of the Hands-On Treatment Approaches and Their Therapeutic Uses. Medicines (Basel) 2022;9(5). [published Online First: 20220427].

Robertson MM, Huang YH, Larson N. (2016). The relationship among computer work, environmental design, and musculoskeletal and visual discomfort: examining the moderating role of supervisory relations and co-worker support. International archives of occupational and environmental health, 89:7-22.

Schaller, A., & Froboese, I. (2014). Movement coaching: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial evaluating effects on physical activity and participation in low back pain patients. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 15, 391, 1-6.

Shariat, A., Cleland, J. A., Danaee, M., Kargarfard, M., Sangelaji, B., & Tamrin, S. B. M. (2018). Effects of stretching exercise training and ergonomic modifications on musculoskeletal discomforts of office workers: a randomized controlled trial. Brazilian journal of physical therapy, 22(2), 144-153.

Shariat, A., Tamrin, S. B. M., Arumugam, M., & Ramasamy, R. (2016a). The bahasa melayu version of cornell musculoskeletal discomfort questionnaire (CMDQ): reliability and validity study in Malaysia. Work, 54(1), 171-178. 3233/WOR162269

Shariat, A., Tamrin, S. B. M., Arumugam, M., Danaee, M., & Ramasamy, R. (2016b). Prevalence rate of musculoskeletal discomforts based on severity level among office workers. Acta Medica Bulgarica, 43(1), 54-63. 1515/amb-20160007

Sihawong, R., Janwantanakul, P., Sitthipornvorakul, E., & Pensri, P. (2011). Exercise therapy for office workers with nonspecific neck pain: a systematic review. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 34(1), 62-71.

Silva Filho, J. N. D., Gurgel, J. L., & Porto, F. (2020). Influence of stretching exercises in musculoskeletal pain in nursing professionals. Fisioterapia em Movimento, 17; 33.

Steenstra, I. A., Anema, J. R., Bongers, P. M., De Vet, H. C., & Van Mechelen, W. (2003). Cost effectiveness of a multi stage return to work program for workers on sick leave due to low back pain, design of a population based controlled trial (ISRCTN60233560). BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 4(1), 1-11.

Tsauo, J. Y., Lee, H. Y., Hsu, J. H., Chen, C. Y., & Chen, C. J. (2004). Physical exercise and health education for neck and shoulder complaints among sedentary workers. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 36(6), 253-257.

Tunwattanapong, P., Kongkasuwan, R., & Kuptniratsaikul, V. (2016). The effectiveness of a neck and shoulder stretching exercise program among office workers with neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical rehabilitation, 30(1), 64-72.

Ward, L., Stebbings, S., Cherkin, D., & Baxter, G. D. (2013). Yoga for functional ability, pain and psychosocial outcomes in musculoskeletal conditions: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Musculoskeletal care, 11(4), 203-217.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

License URL:

2013-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.