How Gamers Can Alleviate Hand and Wrist Fatigue
Five years ago there were nearly two billion gamers. Now, experts estimate there will be more than three billion by 2023. This uptick of players has gradually raised more awareness for e-sport related hand, wrist and arm injuries.
Players everywhere are complaining about pain and fatigue, both of which can cramp their performance. So, if you’ve been experiencing the same symptoms after a few hours in front of the screen, you’re not alone.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to alleviate pain. Better yet, if you do them regularly, you’ll improve your endurance so you can play better longer.
1. Practice Proper Form
One of the best ways to alleviate hand and wrist fatigue and reduce pain is to practice proper form. Sitting in a chair isn’t anatomically natural and can often lead to pain. Sitting with a slouch or holding your controller incorrectly will only exacerbate symptoms.
Prevent tightness and weakness by sitting up straight and resting your head against the back of your gaming chair. Keep your head back and your chin tucked and avoid rounding your shoulders. Set your armrests just high enough so that your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Finally, use a light grip on your mouse or controller and check in with your posture throughout your gaming session.
2. Perform Stretches
Repetitive movements can stiffen your muscles and keep them in a contracted state, which can cause fatigue and pain. Therefore, it’s important that you stretch your wrists and hands every day. Improve circulation with wrist and finger extensor and flexor stretches.
Hold your arm in front of you with your palm down. Maintain a strong, straight elbow and use your other hand to pull your fingers down towards the floor and then up towards the ceiling to ensure a moderate stretch.
3. Invest in Quality Gear
Aside from making a conscious effort to improve your form, investing in some quality gaming gear can help. Look for ergonomic accessories like mice with thumb rests and rubber grips. Remember to choose one that specifically supports your right or left hand and holds your wrist in a neutral position.
You might also look into split mechanical keyboards like Microsoft’s Freestyle Edge model, which supports your forearms and promotes a relaxed grip. Chairs with adjustable armrests and lumbar support can help support your forearms and prevent strain as well.
4. Use Tendon Neuroplastic Training
Strengthening and improving motor control of the muscles and tendons in your arms, wrists and hands is another key element of reducing fatigue. Utilize the following exercises as part of a tendon neuroplastic training program to exercise your muscles and build endurance.
Dumbbell wrist flexion: Strengthen the wrist flexors by sitting in your gaming chair and resting your arm palm up on the armrest. Take a dumbbell in your hand and curl your wrist up and back down 12 times. Perform two more sets.
Dumbbell wrist extension: Improve muscular endurance by taking the same position with your palm down. Holding a dumbbell, curl your wrist up and back down. Perform three sets of 12.
Dumbbell wrist radial and ulnar deviation: Work your flexors and extensors simultaneously by taking the same position as the two above with your palm facing to the left. Hold the dumbbell and bend your wrist up and down. Perform three sets of 12.
Ultigrip exercises: Improve the strength of the forearm fibers that control your fingers. Grip an ultigrip tool or stress ball at the base of your palm with your palm facing down. Squeeze and release the item 15 to 20 times. Perform three sets.
Giving Gaming a Rest
With the average gamer spending more than seven hours a week playing games, giving up the controller and headset isn’t an option for most avid players. However, it’s still important that you take a break every now and then to allow your hands and wrists time to recover. Otherwise, you may overexert yourself and the pain will force you to give your controller a rest.
Incorporate the stretches and exercises above into your routine and perform them twice a day for the best results. In time, you’ll improve your endurance and effectively minimize fatigue so you can play longer with less pain.