A systematic review was conducted to evaluate the relationship between occupational neck flexion angles and neck problems. The synthesised findings were used to answer three research questions: (1) Is there a positive/negative relationship between neck flexion and neck problems? (2) What is the appropriate angular threshold for neck flexion as a risk factor for neck problems? (3) What are the gaps in our current knowledge? A review of 21 papers revealed (1) a consistent positive correlation between neck flexion and neck problems, and (2) a neck flexion angle of 20° as the most evidence-based (not necessarily the best) cut-off angle separating high- and low-risk neck flexion postures. Future research should focus on the (1) continuous collection of three-dimensional neck postures through longitudinal studies to quantify cumulative exposures of neck postures, and (2) development of standard descriptions of ‘neck problems’ and ‘neck flexion’ to facilitate the development of a dose-response relationship. Practitioner summary: Practitioners depend on thresholds for evaluating neck postural exposure using work assessment tools; however, the scientific basis for this is unclear. This systematic review investigated the angular threshold for neck flexion and found 20° of neck flexion with the greatest evidence-based support as the threshold for high-risk neck postural exposure.
- cervical spine
- neck musculoskeletal disorders
- neck pain
- Neck postural exposure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation