Why Is Ergonomics So Important To Gaming?
Can playing video games be bad for your health? Why is ergonomics important in gaming? What is RSI and what can help you to cope with it? What tools can you use to improve performance while decreasing your risk of injury?
There are many debatable views on playing video games like whether they are addictive, if they decrease your attention span, if they will make a person more aggressive, or play a role in causing obesity.
The fact is that video games are here to stay and the peripherals we currently choose for gaming interaction is what we’re most interested in. Especially involving the physical positioning and repetitive movements included in all types of gaming.
What is RSI? RSI stands for repetitive strain injuries caused by prolonged repeated movements. Many times these can be attributed to conditions that lead to trigger finger, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Bringing much discomfort and long term effects.
Below we will discuss the most common areas of impact while gaming that you should be aware of. These can directly affect both your comfort and well-being, especially if you are regularly logging huge amounts of time exploring new game titles.
Common Areas of Concern When Playing Video Games
- Arms, Hands, forearms, and wrists: Regardless of whether you are a console gamer using a standard controller, or a PC gamer using a combination of a mouse and keyboard. The constant use of the hands can cause wear and tear on the tiny muscles and tendons that are forced to perform the same actions for long periods of time.
- Gamers grip & Nintendo thumb: Continually gripping a gaming controller repeatedly pressing the buttons can lead to stress on tendons, nerves and ligaments in the hands, as well as blistering on the fingers and thumb tips.
- Shoulders, Neck & Back: Poor seating will restrict to you sitting in a position that will inevitably cause major strain on your neck, shoulders, upper and especially lower back. You may want to consider a quality high back gaming chair. Many are designed with features that improve your overall gaming experiences by encouraging good posture and support.
- Blood Circulation: Obviously anyone who remains in a seated position, without moving any major muscles for hours, can be at risk. According to Dr James Levine, co-director of the Obesity Initiative for Mayo Clinic, excess sitting can be a major factor in cardiovascular disease. Again in regards to finding proper seating, look for a chair that encourages good circulation.
- Eye Strain: When your eyes are forced to stay focused on the screen during lengthy game times, you are subject to headaches, blurred vision, nearsightedness, and CVS or Computer Vision Syndrome. Consider things like adjusting the distance and height of your screen and your room’s lighting to avoid glare. Most of all, take frequent breaks.
Let’s be honest, any activity if done excessively can negative effects on our health. Like anything else finding a balance and using the right tools can definitely help you lower your risk for injury.
5 Healthy Habits That All Gamers Should Practice
1. Take regular breaks: At a minimum, for every hour of play, get out of that chair and stand up. Walk around for at least 5 to10 minutes. Allow your blood to circulate and refresh yourself. Intense gaming sessions can create a lot of stress on your nervous system and heart, so pace yourself.
2. Perform stretches: Stretching before, after, and especially in between long term gaming sessions can definitely help to keep the tension down and relieve some of the pains due to excessive play.
3. Screen adjustments: Start by centring your monitor with a slight tilt upward, approximately arm’s length distance away (with the exception of screens larger than 20 inches). Position the monitor so that the top viewing area is about 3 inches above eye level. Be mindful of reflective lighting that may cause glare.
4. Good posture: When your body is in proper alignment you feel better and thus can remain in such a position longer. Particularly for PC gamers, you’ll want to find a neutral position, where your feet are flat on the floor, your knees and thighs are level to the floor or slightly lower than your hips. Make sure to have a lumbar support for the curve of your back. Shoulder and elbows are relaxed at your sides. Arms, hands, and wrists are straight and parallel to the floor while supported by armrests.
5. Using the right tools: When you factor in the amount of rapid and repetitive movements involved in your choice of gaming, it only makes sense to use the most effective and comfortable set up. With today’s technology, there are many more choices when it comes to:
- Adjustable Gaming Desks
- Keyboards for Playing Video Games.
- Finding an Ergonomic Gaming Mouse.
- Ergonomic Office Gaming Chairs.
- Great Gaming Controllers.
- Adjustable Monitor Stands.
For those who know that they are committed to hardcore hours of playing, why not consider some of the steps involved in safeguarding your health and overall comfort?
Be aware of the critical areas of concern when it comes to your repetitive actions and their effects on the body. Not to mention factors like the distance your eyes are from your computer screen.
Using common sense in taking short breaks and realising how important it is, not only to your health but your clarity that you give yourself a mental rest. Many times this will allow you to get a fresh perspective on your next challenge.
Being able to locate quality gear for a relaxing and healthy gaming set up, can help prevent injuries including RSI, as well as neck and back issues. Good luck and good gaming health to you!