“Be aware and listen to what your body says – a whisper is a warning to take care. A shout is a definite cry for help because the damage is done already.”
Aptly marked, isn’t? Lately, I was going through the news channel and found that children as young as 9 had been diagnosed with Strain Injuries. This was shocking enough and I think Strain Injury is a matter of great concern. Strain Injuries are pervading nowadays. Strain injury is generally caused by overuse of muscles and continuously repeated actions. Arms and hands are the common body parts where these injuries occur. Repetitive Stress Disorders, Repetitive Motion Disorders are some of the common terms used for Repetitive Strain Injury.
But ever wondered if repetitive actions lead to strain injury then how do professional gamers avoid strain injuries? This time, we have come up with a guide on how professional gamers avoid repetitive strain injury and how you can do that, too.
What is Repetitive Strain Injury?
That’s the first question that comes to anyone’s mind. An injury caused to nervous system due to the repetitive task, vibrations and forceful exertions on muscles is known as Strain Injury. Or if I put it to simpler words then strain injury is generally caused when the same movement is performed over and over again & for long period of time, firstly it causes strain and then injury.
Strain injury is almost similar to sports injury as while running when the pain starts and you take rest so that muscles can recover. Same goes with hands and arms. Take rest when overused them.
Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury
“It’s one of those things you never think is going to happen to you, and then when it does you’re like ‘oh shit, what I shall do?” Paulson addresses to his fans in one of his interviews. Don’t let this happen in your case. Sometimes it happens that gamers don’t even know that they are suffering from RSI. However, an early warning can surely save your future. Keep your gaming career long and let’s discuss some of the common symptoms of RSI.
- Be aware of sharp pain, aching, pulse pain, swelling.
- Pain in the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
- Pain that doesn’t lets you sleep.
- Numbness or tingling in hands
- Discomfort, tightness, soreness or burning in hands, wrists, fingers, forearms and elbows.
- Eye Strain
- Fatigue or lack of endurance
- Chronically cold hands
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above and believe that you may have developed RSI, the first thing you should consider is a Professional Medical Advice because when you first notice the symptoms of RSI, you have already done damage substantial damage to your body. Still, it’s not too late. All you need to do is change your habits, mend your ways and ration your computer usage. Small steps taken today will benefit you tomorrow.
Causes of Repetitive Strain Injury
If you are into eSports then it’s highly likely that you are well aware of the causes of RSI. Hai Lam, the best known Mid Laner and the captain of cloud9 which is regarded as the best US eSports team for online multiplayer game LEAGUE OF LEGENDS announced that he is quitting the game because of Strain Injury. It doesn’t come with as much of a surprise to hear that the big game player was forced to retire due to injury. As football players are forced to retire when their knees give out, so a persistent strain injury can lead to the end of your eSports career. Pain is the body saying something is wrong.
- Continuously pressing the “fire” button with your thumb on the game controller. You’ll experience swelling at the base of your thumb after hours of playing and this may pinch the wrist nerves.
- Using Standard mouse when repetitive firing is required. The twisted position of the wrist over a standard mouse can create pressure on tendons and can lead to swelling. We recommend buying yourself a proper computer gaming mouse.
- Holding your hand too long at an odd angle over the keyboard constantly pressing the movement keys. This can accelerate the aggravation and pinch nerves in the wrist.
That takes us to our next point – how exactly do professional gamers avoid strain injury? Or for that matter, how you can avoid strain injury while playing your favorite games. Here’s how –
Avoiding Repetitive Strain Injuries
Someone has aptly marked “Prevention is better than cure”. There are lot many things you can do to avoid repetitive strain injuries. Proactive steps taken today will help you tomorrow. Here are few simple tips if followed wisely would benefit you a lot.
Good Posture is crucial. Good posture simply means sitting in such a way that efforts required while playing on the computer are minimized. Playing while sitting on the couch, chilling with coffee with feet up is the common trend seen within avid gamers. But if you are going to spend so many hours gaming then you have to ditch the couch and get yourself a decent gaming chair.
Sit up straight. Make sure your chair height and back support are adjustable according to desk height. Adjust your display in such a way that the screen is straight in front of your eyes. Your neck should be arched in, supported by the spine. This alone will keep strain injury miles away from you.
Setting Up Your Play Station
Under this, following things require special attention –
- Keyboard – Position it in such a way that your shoulder be able to reach the keys with elbow at your sides and bent at 90 degrees because if your elbows are more than a 90 angle then it will surely tire you quickly.
- Mouse – Make sure your mouse is placed nearby to the keyboard so that you don’t have to stretch, lean or hunch.
- Monitor – Your monitor should be straight in front of you such that your eye level is somewhere 20% from the top.
Proper Technique: (Using keyboard and mouse)
- Keep your wrist straight – Make sure your wrist is in a neutral position while typing that is not bending the wrist upwards using the keyboard while playing. Using keyboard when your wrist is not straight or in neutral position puts a strain on tendons and sheaths, increasing the risk of repetitive strain injuries. Try not to hit the keys too forcefully.
- Float your hands – Don’t rest your wrists on the desk, keyboard or mouse instead hover them over the keys this allows you to keep your wrist straight, which is impossible if they are on rest.
The most common cause of injury is a failure to warm up. Warm up is the most significant way to reduce the risk of strain injuries. A sufficient warm up session should include slight stretching of hands, arms, and fingers in order to prepare them for the activity to follow and should last for 5-10 minutes. Correct warm up increases the blood flow in muscles thus increasing the flexibility of the muscle fibers which reduces the risk of straining muscles.
Take Regular Breaks & Relax
Take regular breaks at least once in every hour for 10-15 minutes. Have a brief walk, massage your limbs, fingers, hands, and arms to restore the blood circulation. I know this is most difficult task to follow as it’s difficult to remember to take a break while you are doing something
Yoga is an ancient and the most effective form of exercise to relieve muscular tension, pain and reduce stress. Practicing simple yoga exercise at certain intervals while working on computers will help you to relax and which will gradually increase your stamina reducing the risk of strain injuries. Flex your fingers then stretch your hands above your head then to both the sides. Move your wrist in anticlockwise and clockwise directions. Gentle exercises can help you a lot.
Water is an essential element and plays a vital role to keep the body going. Keep your body hydrated to ensure mental and physical fitness.
Dealing with RSI early is important to minimize the damage, and to spare you from the world of hurt, frustration, anger and trouble. “Prevention is better than cure” as I mentioned earlier because healing can happen but it may take months even years. But if you find any of the RSI symptoms, listen to it and take proper steps before the things got worse. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you have RSI. So Don’t Give Up!!!
Stay tuned for more updates.