It has been estimated that more than 250 million people worldwide participate in electronic sports or professional gaming. Over the past decade, esports has become a billion dollar industry and personalities such as Kuro Takkashomi, Damon “Karma” Barlow and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins have become as popular / name recognized in their sport as Lebron and Tiger are in theirs.
Until recently, many “outsiders” did not understand the respect within the industry of a performer’s need to have the dexterity of a pianist, the mind of a chess grandmaster and the discipline of an Olympic Athlete to be successful nor did “outsiders” recognize the rigorous training players go through. According to a 2019 published study, esport players practice between three and ten hours per day and as in any sport, gamers get injured with the most frequent complaints being eye fatigue (56%), neck and back pain (42%), wrist pain (36%) and hand pain (32%). Of those surveyed, only two percent sought medical attention for their injuries and 40% stated they did not participate in any other form of physical exercise.
MORE THAN GAMER’s THUMB
When people think of potential injuries to gamers, they often envision “gamer’s thumb” in which repetitive strain on thumb tendons lead to inflammation resulting in pain and limited movement. However, headaches, neck strain, low back pain and upper extremity peripheral nerve compressions (carpal tunnel syndrome) which result in pain, tingling, numbness and burning into the forearm, wrist and hand are also prevalent.
Unlike an athlete participating in a sporting event such as basketball or baseball when they know the exact moment their knee twisted or their shoulder popped, gamers’ issues / injuries usually begin subtly. They wake up one morning and their back is tight or their head or neck hurts or their wrist doesn’t feel right when they start to practice a move.
HOW PHYSICAL THERAPY HELPS
Physical therapy is the science of assessing and restoring motion (motion of a particular joint or body part, or a particular movement pattern). Physical therapy finds the root cause of your symptoms and corrects it thereby helping you recover quicker and reducing the risk for re-occurrence. Physical therapy is the profession uniquely qualified to decrease your pain, increase your strength, increase your energy, increase your flexibility and get you back in the game.
As musculoskeletal specialists, your Chiron physical therapy family is experts when it comes to the mechanics of the body and how the muscles, joints and skeletal structure work with one another. Our physical therapists are educated in the rehabilitation and prevention of injury through the use of exercise programs and therefore not only provide treatment once you are injured but will work with you to prevent injury. Working together we will:
- educate you on good ergonomics … the correct ways to sit, set up your gaming station, use arm rests, etc.
- teach you to be self-aware … your body will find its way into an unnatural “comfort zone” and you must remind yourself regularly that each day you sit up straighter brings you one day closer to relief.
- discuss proper breathing techniques … stressful situations cause your breathing to become shallower. As this happens on a chronic basis, you breathe incorrectly using your neck muscles instead of your diaphragm which in turn causes your neck to tighten and can lead to headaches.
- teach you to fuel your body properly
- drink more water . . .chronic dehydration of the body and brain as a cause of headaches.
- Watch what you eat . . . limit / avoid processed foods, excessive sugars and high fat foods as these affect your body’s acidity levels and build up toxic levels in your body which in turn can alter normal function of your central nervous system.
- develop an exercise program to:
- Strengthen the muscles of the mid back and scapula (shoulder blade area) … the large shoulder muscles around the scapula play a major role in supporting the neck. Having proper movement and support of the neck and shoulder muscle is key to having a healthy neck;
- Stretch / improve the flexibility of your neck and upper back joints . . . tight muscles lead to spasms which can trigger headaches;
- provide you with the tools / tips of stretches to do throughout your day … make warmups, breaks, cool downs routine and natural to prevent injury and optimize performance. Physical and mental breaks are any athletes best friend;
- develop a comprehensive plan built to improve your range of motion, reduce your pain quickly, soothe stiff and sore muscles and return your strength.
If you are or someone you know is experiencing tingling or loss of joint function, suffering from poor posture or headaches and/or have decreased motion of the neck, shoulder, back or hips, don’t wait. Your friends at Chiron are here to help. We are Direct Access certified and will care FOR you and care ABOUT you in every interaction as we get to the root cause of your issue to help you heal faster and live without limitations.
As we move toward the close of 2020, your Chiron Family wishes you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Las Posadas, Happy Diwali and Happy whatever you and your family celebrate. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your lives and walk alongside on your wellness journey. We look forward to serving you in 2021.