It may sound weird to hear someone get injured playing video games, but it does happen. In fact, it happens quite frequently. Much more so these days as more and more players devote their time playing video games in hopes of becoming professional eSports athletes.
Clinton “Fear” Loomis is widely considered by many Dota fans as the face of North American Dota 2. He’s also among the many high-profile eSports athletes who’ve missed games because of video game related injuries. In 2014, Fear skipped The International 4, an annual Dota 2 competition held in Seattle, where the top teams from around the world compete for fame and fortune, due to an arm injury. While he did later come back to play again professionally, Fear retired for good from professional gaming not long after, citing recurring health issues as the reason.
Back, neck and shoulder pain, posture problems, repetitive stress injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, pulled muscles and sprains, and the list goes on. While the average gamer probably doesn’t spend nearly as much time playing video games as intensely as eSports athletes, but the truth of the fact remains – video game injuries are real and they can happen to anyone.
Preventing Video Game Injuries
The risk of video game injuries doesn’t mean that we have to avoid playing video games indefinitely, it just means to make a conscious effort to try to be healthier. Video game injuries won’t prevent us from enjoying our favorite video games, but they can affect our quality of life in general, sometimes permanently.
Due to how many hours they put into intense gaming sessions, eSports athletes are one of the first gamers to change their approach to gaming. Many have even gone on to seek help from professional orthopedic and upper extremity surgeons.
For treatment, the players are given five to 10 specific exercises with proper ergonomic positions for their hands based on what and how they play. By doing this it will reduce inflammation and pain, and it will help improve the player’s Actions Per Minute (APM), which is how eSports players measure their speed.
Most gamers don’t really need to see a professional. However, I will be posting a video on you tube in the near future that shows various hand and wrist exercises for gamers, which should help prevent hand and wrist injuries, or at least, minimize one’s risk for them.
What To Do
Hand and wrist injuries, though, are just a small part of the problem. Staring at a screen for hours every day is not, in any way, good for the eyes.
Eyestrain is no joke. It’s often accompanied by sore and burning eyes, sensitivity to light, sore neck, and headaches that can easily go from minor annoyance to cripplingly painful. However, you can do something to prevent or alleviate some of the symptoms.
Studies have shown that it is important to take breaks often to rest your eyes, as well as limiting screen time, avoid using the computer in dimly lit rooms, and using eyewear specifically designed for computer work.
As bad as staring at a screen for hours is on our eyes, sitting down for hours is just as bad, if not worse for your health. Fortunately, the detrimental effects of sitting down for hours is not exactly as underestimated as compared to eyestrain and gaming-related hand and wrist injuries. Most of us know to get up out of our chair every few hours to stretch, and to have proper back support while sitting.
In fact, a growing number of companies have begun to realize the benefits of making their workplaces more ergonomic. Standing desks, for example, have recently become a popular means of boosting productivity at work and keep employees healthy and fit.
Gaming-wise, though, ergonomic desks arguably don’t really do as much as compared to ergonomic chairs. Gaming chairs, which have also become more popular in recent years, are specifically designed to provide better support to the spine while gaming. They also help relieve tension in the neck, back, and shoulders. Not to mention most come with extra accessories to improve the overall gaming experience and make gaming even more of a stress reliever than it already is.
Sit Back and Relax
While it’s definitely debatable whether it’s worth investing money on ergonomic desks, gaming chairs, and eyewear for computer work, what is not debatable is the importance of rest. Put simply, rest is vital to preventing and treating video game injuries, or just injuries in general. You can buy all the gear you want or need in the world, but nothing can really compare to the benefits of giving your body enough time to recuperate and relax.
It’s true that gaming is one of the best stress relievers known to mankind. However, we need to remember that anything in excess never really does us any good. So, take a break. Heck, take a nap even. Better yet, walk around and do some stretches. Whatever you do, just try to put that controller down every now and then. Do that, and you’ll stay relatively healthy and avoid video game injuries while playing video games!