Men’s Style speaks to a movement expert for solutions to what happens to the body when you’re desk-bound for long periods of time.
The next time you’re strolling through your office, take a moment to look at how your colleagues are sitting. Chances are they’re either slouched back in their chair like their spine is melting, or hunched over their keyboard like Quasimodo with a keyboard.
Movement expert Matt Waverton — a strength and conditioning coach who’s worked with CEOs and professional athletes alike over a 10-year career — is acutely aware of the perils of being slumped in front of a computer all day, and he talks Men’s Style through a few of them.
“Straining your neck forward,” Matt begins, “while staring at a computer screen for long periods of time puts stress on the cervical vertebrae and can cause imbalances to the muscles and ligaments that support your neck and head, leading to poor posture and even headaches.”
“The muscles of the core’s actual function goes way beyond Instagram photos! Their role is to support the spine and keep you in a strong upright position, and when you’re slumped in a chair these important stabilising muscles are switched off. I also count the glutes as an essential part of our core musculature. They play a vital role in hip stability and strength, which has a direct correlation with core stability, lumbar spine posture and overall health.”
“Slouched computer posture leads to elongated and weak upper back muscles, internally rotated shoulders, shortened pec muscles and excessive rounding of the thoracic spine, which affects shoulder mobility and can also restrict breathing efficiency.”
“Consistent long periods of seated posture can squash your disks unevenly and they can lose sponginess, making them weaker and less resilient, increasing the potential for disk bulges.”
Tight hip flexors
“When we sit for extended periods of time, these muscles cramp and shorten, tightening the hips and pulling the lumbar spine forward, accentuating lumbar lordosis (‘duck butt’), and placing uneven pressure on the discs of the lumbar spine.”
Foggy computer brain
“We can all relate to sitting at our computers for hours, feeling tired and cranky, our minds blank, and vulnerable to distractions.”
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, because Matt has a solution that doesn’t involved walking up to your boss and handing in your resignation letter so you can go on more midday workouts.
Simply getting up for five minutes every hour to fetch a glass of water and enjoy a short walk pumps some fresh blood around the body and oxygen to the brain, as well as lubricating the joints and preventing muscles from shortening and cramping up.
Matt’s also developed the Waveblade (below), a recovery product that looks like a foam roller on supplements, that’s designed to fight dodgy posture. The blade design works by improving circulation to joints and tight areas, enhancing mobility and improving tissue health, and is used by AFL legend Adam Goodes and champion long-distance runner Eloise Wellings.
Matt’s advice for the less-than-elite athlete who’s stuck behind a desk every day? Use the Waveblade for five to 15 minutes twice a day to pre-emptively fight poor posture.
“Think of it as part of a proactive maintenance schedule — let’s not wait until we are broken to address common problems,” he says.
“Keep the Waveblade near your desk and set a ritual for before/after lunch combined with before/after afternoon tea. The Waveblade is accompanied by a series of complementary mobility drills that should be used in tandem with the massage tool for maximised performance.”
To check out the exercises and for more info about the Waveblade, visit waveblade.co