The Ultimate Guide to Ergonomics for Gamers

The Ultimate Guide to Ergonomics for Gamers
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  • Doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists are treating more gamers than ever before. Is your back, neck, or shoulders bothering you after long gaming sessions?

    Learn how you can prevent health issues, and even boost your gaming performance just by making a few small tweaks to your set up. Ergonomics and ergonomic products can help you stay in the game longer.

    Assessment

    If you had to rate your posture while gaming on a scale of 1-10 what would your score be? Think about your entire body, from the top of your head down to your feet.

    Are you in the best possible positions for your body’s health and wellbeing? Is your posture sustainable?

    Are you using the most ergonomic gear and furniture as possible? Chances are that if you are in pain during or after gaming the answer is probably no.

    How about your stress levels while gaming? Would you say that your gaming causes mental or emotional stress? Don’t let excitement be confused with stress, but don’t ignore unhealthy amounts of gaming stress, either.

    Stress can show itself in many ways, and body tension is the most common. Headaches, back pain, muscle cramps are all ways that your body will try to communicate with you that something needs to be changed, that something is not right.

    Harmful Side Effects

    You may not have noticed anything wrong after your first time gaming. What do you think side effects from gaming could be years down the road? Eventually, a few things will inevitably catch up to you.

    Avoid serious complications such as carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, migraines, and more. Do something now that your future self will appreciate.

    Ergonomics

    Ergo- what? What is that? And, why do we see that word all over gaming equipment? Since more and more of us are sitting at desks all day/night we have been realizing how hard it can be on our body.

    According to the Oxford dictionary, ergonomics is the study of efficiency in the work environment.

    It means making small adjustments at your work/gaming station to put the body into more natural/ less evasive positions.

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    When a product such as a desk chair, or a keyboard is labeled as being ergonomic, it means that the product has been designed with proper body posture and body mechanics in mind.

    Read the fine print and make sure that what you’re buying is the real deal. Ergonomics is often used misleadingly. The best choices are those that are backed up by scientific evidence.

    Proper Body Posture

    Slouching and shoulder/back/neck pain go hand in hand. To slouch means to allow you body to droop, or hang in a lazy way letting your shoulders roll forward, and your back to curve, while your neck protrudes forward, or hangs down.

    When you sit up straight so that your spine is aligned properly, pull your shoulders back to open your chest, place your feet flat on the floor, and hold your neck up with your ears in alignment with your shoulders, you are using the correct body posture.

    Practice makes perfect applies heavily to learning how to hold your body in better postures not only while gaming, but all of the time. You are retraining your muscle so that the muscle memory will be healthy instead of harmful.

    Learning better posture may take several weeks-months to get to a point where you do it without thinking about it.

    Screen Height

    Did you know that every inch that your head is tilted forward put an insane amount of pressure on the tiny muscles on the base of your skull that holds your head up?

    The average human head weighs about 12lbs, leaning in to see your screen asks a lot of your body. When we are looking at our phones or other screens our sternocleidomastoid muscles, and our capitis muscles get tight and overstretched causing headaches, and even shifting of vertebrae.

    The pain from overusing these muscles can be felt in the neck, head, shoulders, and can even shoot down the arms and down the back.

    How can this be improved? Adjust your screen height so that you are not straining to look either too far upward, or too far downward. You can also adjust your chair and desk height.

    Choosing the Best Ergonomic Chair

    Your gaming chair is a very important purchase. It can mean the difference between good posture and bad posture and is a direct link to your comfort both during and after gaming.

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    Does your chair have comfortable armrests? If so, use them to relieve pressure on your neck and shoulders.

    Does your chair have the proper back curvature and neck support? These features matter, so take your time when choosing a new gaming chair. You will not regret the extra time, effort, or money that it takes. It will be an investment worth making.

    Do Your Feet Hang Low

    Feet/legs should never be dangling, but always resting comfortably on the floor or a stool. Allowing your feet to hang puts extra pressure on your quads, hamstrings, and lower back and can be bad for your circulation.

    Lower your chair until your feet are sitting flat on the floor, or use a stool to prop them up. If you lower your chair, you may have to adjust your entire desk and screen set up, too.

    Hands-On & Hands Off

    Let’s talk about your hands. Whether you game with controllers or a keyboard, your hands can take some serious abuse while gaming

    If your hands or wrists begin to hurt, take that as a sign that it may be time for a break. Even a short break will be beneficial.

    Can the right ergonomic controller make a difference? Absolutely!

    Think of it like two pairs of shoes. The non-ergonomic controller/keyboard is a pair of stilettos. Whereas an ergonomic controller/keyboard is a comfortable pair of sneakers.

    Ergonomic equipment puts your hands in more natural positions to help prevent pain, cramping, and even carpal tunnel syndrome.

    The Key to Success

    If you are using a keyboard to the game, are you using the right one? Gaming keyboards are set up differently than a regular keyboard because gaming often requires different approaches to the keys.

    Gamers are not using the keyboard as it was originally intended. The design of a regular keyboard is to be more efficient for typing text rather than commands.

    The leading ergonomic gaming keyboards have wrist rests and are often flat instead of inclined. They can also be smaller, almost half the size of a regular keyboard, and are called a split keyboard.

    From Back to Front

    Sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on your body from hips to buttocks, and even your back, neck, and shoulders. The pain may be mild to debilitatingly severe.

    When the body is in a folded/ seated position muscles like the hip flexor muscles tighten and shorten. Tight short muscles cause all sorts of issues and they begin to pull on other parts of the body and restrict proper blood flow.

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    Sitting in a desk chair can also compress the spine over time. Some of these health issues are irreversible. Yet, sciatica can be treated through therapies such as massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture.

    Take a Break

    Using proper body mechanics, having good posture, and purchasing the most ergonomic chair, etc can only do so much for you. You have to step away, AFK. Don’t be a Leroy Jenkins.

    Push pause, hands off the controls, and take a short break. If you’ve been playing consistently for more than one hour, a break would do you some good.

    As we lose ourselves in the gaming world we often put our bodies in unnatural positions. Your eyes, your mind, and your body will thank you for giving it a rest.

    Drop your shoulders, and pull them back to open your chest. As the excitement of the game takes over, we tend to clench muscles from our jaw down to our hands.

    Walk around, give yourself a change of scenery. Shake it out, stretch, jump up and down

    Enhance Your Performance

    Did you know that correcting these issues can enhance your gaming performance? That’s right, it can!

    Gaming can be hard on your body physically, but what about the mental side of things?

    Being a hardcore gamer, you know that the sharper you are, the better you play. Your reaction and response time relies on you taking care of yourself.

    Physical Fitness Training

    It may sound strange to go through physical fitness training just to sit still. But, when you think about it, you aren’t just sitting there. And, even if you were, training helps the muscles to be strong and prepared.

    Training physically can help combat the stiffness, and weariness of the muscles from long gaming sessions. Gamers often sit longer than someone who does office work from a desk.

    It is recommended to at least stretch and work out your upper body 2-3 times a week.

    Let the Gaming Begin

    Tweaking your gaming set up to be more ergonomic does not have to be a major project, but it should be done as soon as possible to avoid any further pain or injury. Use ergonomics to your advantage. And, let the gaming begin!

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