Video Gaming Athletes: Protect Yourself from Back Pain & Injuries With These Tips
When Michael Phelps presented the eSports Player Award at the 2016 Video Game Awards, he referred to award recipients as "fellow athletes." Although the designation of gamers as athletes is still debateable, the truth of the matter is that video gamers experience back injuries just like other athletes.
If you are a gamer or the parent of a gamer, there are a number of things you can do to minimise and avoid back injuries:
1. Avoid Positions with Bad Posture
As a gamer, you wouldn't just play one game, and you should apply that philosophy to your position as well. Don't just sit in the same chair or in the same position all the time. That puts strain on the same area of your body at all times. It can cause pain in those areas, and it can cause your other muscles to overcompensate, thus leading to pain in those areas as well.
For example, if you sit hunched in front of the TV, the area between your shoulder blades may get sore. Alternatively, if you lay on your stomach with your head tilted up toward the TV screen, you may feel a lot of pinching along your lower back. If you switch up your positions, you can reduce the impact.
Similarly, if you are a computer gamer, you may want to get a desk that converts from sitting to standing. That lets you change up your positions easily.
2. Invest in an Ergonomic Chair
Instead of rotating between potentially painful gaming positions, consider investing in an ergonomic chair. If you use a console and the TV, you may want a gaming chair. These chairs sit close to the ground, and they feature a slightly slanted back with some lower lumbar support.
If you are a computer gamer, you should look into an ergonomic desk chair. You need back support, but also look for arm rests that let your arms sit comfortably without causing your shoulders to hunch up. If you are using a keyboard currently, consider buying one that is made for gaming. That puts your hands in a more body-friendly position. Alternatively, just switch to a USB-controller so that you can lean back comfortably.
3. Adjust Your Screens
Whether you get an ergonomic chair or not, adjust your screens. With a desk, you may want to raise your monitor up or down, and if you use the TV, you may want to move it from a wall mount to a TV stand. Ultimately, you want the screen straight across from your eyes.
That prevents you from stretching up or hunching down to see the screen properly. Those odd positions, especially when you hold them for long periods of time, can be hard on your back or lead to other injuries.
4. Strengthen Your Core
What you do when you're not gaming can also have an impact on your body. Swimmers such as Michael Phelps and Shane Gould don't just swim. When they're training, they also lift weights or do other exercises, as well as focusing on their nutrition levels. As a gaming athlete, there are also things you should do when you're not playing a game.
In particular, if you are struggling with back pain, consider doing exercises that strengthen your core. Workouts such as yoga help reduce back and leg pain by working on your core. When your core is strong and your body is properly aligned, you are less likely to get back strains. These workouts also encourage your body to get into the correct position. For example, if you start gaming after a yoga session, your body may intuitively strike a pose of alignment, instead of taking your usual potentially pain-inducing position.
For more information about back pain or sports injuries, contact local medical clinics.