Video gaming has grown to over 150 million individuals in the United States playing. Around 60% of Americans play video games every day, with the average gamer being 34 years old. Playing video games for an extended amount of time takes a toll on the body. Individuals are experiencing the same kind of pains and aches from sitting and standing all day at work or school. Sitting positions, holding the controllers, and the different accessories can impact the nerves, muscles, and Posture. E-sports professionals understand the physical toll their bodies take with constant practice, tournaments, clinics, etc. They do cardiovascular conditioning, strength train, and stretch to improve their gaming abilities and also take into account:
- The correct sitting position.
- Ergonomic chairs.
- Screen height.
- Ergonomic controllers.
- Hand/wrist supports.
- Take regular breaks.
Taking steps can prevent strain, injuries and minimize the risk of long-term damage. If strain and injuries are present, professional chiropractic treatment can help alleviate the pain, rehabilitate/strengthen the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and recommend exercises and stretches.
Video Gaming Posture
Proper Posture is vital to maintaining spinal as well as overall health. Poor Posture is the most common cause of back and neck pain.
Video Gaming Positions
Common gaming positions include the couch slouch where the gamer is slumped back into the couch with their feet up. This can lead to low back pain and sciatica. The full-on position is where the individual leans forward, elbows on their knees, head tilted forward, and staring up at the screen. Hours in these positions cause the neck, back, and other body areas to stiffen, generating soreness from the restricted movement. Many gamers use ergonomic gaming chairs. They have found that using the gaming chair improves Posture, eliminating the forward head and rounded shoulders. Gaming chairs can provide the health benefit of sitting correctly, reducing and eliminating neck and back tension or strain.
Injuries and Health Issues
Common musculoskeletal issues caused by excessive gaming and lack of movement include:
- Neck pain
- Elbow, arm, wrist pain
- Thumb pain
- General hand pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Postural stress
- Back pain
The intensity of gaming can cause the shoulders to tense up and stiffen. When using the controller, the shoulders can slightly lift, building up lactic acid, interrupting blood circulation, causing an accumulation of unwanted toxins inflaming trigger points. A chiropractic massage will release tightened muscles, provide relaxation, and increase the blood flow.
Hand and Wrist Treatment
The most used body parts for video games include the hands and wrist. Individuals grip the controllers or constantly use the keyboard and mouse. No matter what form of input is used, prolonged use can cause hand and wrist injuries. Injuries include:
- Hand muscle aches
Chiropractic focuses on specific areas to help treat the body through a hand and wrist massage. Advanced techniques include electrical muscle stimulation to help stimulate and loosen the muscles. A chiropractor will recommend stretches and exercises, and hand/wrist supports, guards, or special gloves to alleviate muscle pains while still playing.
Neck and Back Adjustments
Poor posture can result in a misaligned spine or back muscle spasms. During extended game sessions, pain and fatigue can begin to present. A chiropractic adjustment can realign the muscles and set them back in place. The tissue surrounding the neck may thicken and focus on a specific area. Leaning too far forward or using a heavy gaming headset can result in a forward head posture placing a constant strain on the neck. Chiropractic adjustments will loosen the tissue and release any tension. Stretches and exercises will be recommended as well.
- Set up the gaming station correctly.
- The monitor or TV should be directly in front and around eye level, taking the strain off the neck.
- Support the low back by maintaining the normal curve known as lordosis.
- Use a lumbar support pillow or a small pillow behind the low back to prevent strain and pain.
- Take frequent breaks every hour, take 10 minutes to get up, walk around, and stretch.
- Physical activity/exercise 30-60 minutes a day to improve health.
- Healthy diet
Body composition refers to how various substances in the body are proportioned. A few examples of the components that make up the body include:
All of these components generate balance in the body. When individuals exercise, they begin to notice changes in their body composition. For individuals that exercise regularly, it is vital to track weight gain, weight loss, and changes in body composition. This is to ensure that they aren’t losing muscle mass. As individuals exercise, muscle fibers are torn. During the recovery process, muscles are rebuilt. Overtraining can lead to muscle mass reduction because the body cannot catch up and rebuild the number of muscle fibers, eventually leading to lost muscle.
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McGee, Caitlin, et al. “More Than a Game: Musculoskeletal Injuries and a Key Role for the Physical Therapist in Esports.” The Journal of orthopedic and sports physical therapy vol. 51,9 (2021): 415-417. doi:10.2519/jospt.2021.0109
McGee, Caitlin, and Kevin Ho. “Tendinopathies in Video Gaming and Esports.” Frontiers in sports and active living vol. 3 689371. 28 May. 2021, doi:10.3389/fspor.2021.689371
Zwibel, Hallie et al. “An Osteopathic Physician’s Approach to the Esports Athlete.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association vol. 119,11 (2019): 756-762. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2019.125
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