Better Me

Hit Pause. Are You Safe Against Video Game Injuries?

Every video game has a big boss at the end. But your toughest fight might come after the boss has been defeated. If you play a lot of video games, you need to take a few precautions to avoid video game-related injuries.

Joshua Hustedt, MD, is a hand surgeon at Banner – University Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute in Phoenix, AZ. He offered some key advice for minimizing your risk of injury. Boost your character attributes and strengthen your gaming abilities by following these tips.

Get an ergonomic setup (+6 Dexterity)

Whether you play on a console, a PC or a mobile device, it’s very important to have a setup that prioritizes comfort. With a little research, you can find a controller, keyboard or mouse that will put your hands in natural positions. Not only will this keep your hands, wrists and elbows healthy, you won’t get tired as quickly when you play.

Limit your daily playing time (+10 Wisdom)

Doing anything for hours at a time will lead to exhaustion. Gaming is no different. You may have heard of “Gamer’s Thumb,” a common name for inflammation in the tendons of your thumbs. Protecting your thumb should be a priority for gamers (they are what separate us from the animals after all). Dr. Hustedt warned against repetitive motion saying, “any type of repetitive use of tendons can lead to inflammation. When that inflammation occurs it’s important to have reduction strategies that help break the cycle of inflammation.” Dr. Hustedt recommended rest, cold compress, and anti-inflammatory medication if necessary.

Get plenty of exercise (+7 Strength)

Exercise is vital for your emotional, physical and mental well-being. Whether you are a gamer, work a full-time desk job or both, budgeting time for daily exercise will help you to avoid injury. Remember that, even for avid gamers, your body is more than hands and wrists. Be sure to get a good mix of cardiovascular and strength training.

Take breaks (+4 Stamina)

Today’s video games are designed to keep you plugged in. Whether you are exploring an open-world map in one player mode or teaming up online in multiplayer, time can fly by before you know it. Try setting a timer to make sure you get adequate breaks and limit your playing time overall. Although turning off the game early may be hard, you’ll find that you avoid burning out on your favorite games.

Prioritize rest and diet (+5 Vitality)

When evening gaming sessions drag into the night, you miss out on two things, healthy food and adequate rest. You need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to be rested and experts agree that the light coming from your phone or monitor can reduce your body’s production of melatonin. Stop playing in the evening to eat a healthy dinner and be sure that you are turning off your games at least an hour before bedtime.

See a doctor if you’re in pain (+8 Resistance)

Video game injuries can be stigmatized as unimportant or embarrassing. Dr. Hustedt emphasized, “these are real issues, and they are much more common than you may think. If you are uncomfortable and unable to address it on your own, speak with a doctor or therapist to be treated.”

Just like skipping straight to the final boss level, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure if you don’t take care of your body while playing video games. Our conversation with Dr. Hustedt focused on his specialty, hands. But many other injuries are commonly found in gamers. Here are a few more that you should protect yourself against.

  • Eye strain
  • Spinal injuries caused by poor posture
  • Nerve damage cause by prolonged sitting
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Poor health caused by inactivity
  • Shoulder and elbow pain

As our lives become increasingly digital, we are presented with new opportunities and challenges. You may be interested in these similar articles.

Orthopedics Physical Therapy Sleep Sports Medicine