As E-sports continues to take the world by storm, it’s certainly amazing how gamers keep pushing the envelope in terms of skill. Elite players continue to break records consistently — nothing short of a testament to the number of hours spent practicing and playing; on the top gaming laptops no less.
All this time spent huddled over a console or PC, however, does have its side effects. In fact, similar to athletes who specialize in other sports, professional players face a high risk of getting injured from the prolonged hours of training.
This isn’t great news for any pro player. After all, the intense nature and close level of competition of E-sports means that any discomfort that leads to a slightly delayed reaction can cost the team a victory — not to mention the handsome prize money.
Whether you’re a pro gamer looking to prevent injuries or just curious to find out more about the highest levels of E-sports, here’s all you need to know about the top three pro injuries in E-sports and how to prevent them.
1. Back pain
A common issue amongst gamers and non-gamers alike, back pains have become all too familiar with young adults. Experts pinpoint the problem to how sedentary our lifestyles have become, such that many of us are sitting for many hours a day.
For gamers, in particular, back pain is commonplace for a few reasons. First, gamers tend to adopt a slightly slouched position, resting with the head slightly tilted forward. Being in this position for some time is fine, but it places lots of undue stress on the muscles around the upper back after a couple of hours. It also affects the neck and shoulders, which can lead to forward rounding shoulders if not corrected.
Another pitfall is that gamers tend to sit for hours on end. To make things worse, they usually have their hands on a keyboard and mouse, which means that their elbows are extended further than what is natural. The prolonged duration of staying in this posture, together with having overextended arms in front of the torso, negatively impacts the back.
The bad news is that these issues are almost inevitable because of the nature of E-sports. You do need to put in the hours sitting in front of a screen to get to the elite levels and stand a chance of sweeping the top prizes. However, on that note, the good news is that back pain is easily managed. To start off, players can opt for more ergonomic chairs. These may cost way more than the usual gaming chairs, but in the long run, they can make a world of difference.
The other way players can mediate this is by adopting good posture as much as possible when gaming, If that’s not possible, using cream or oral muscle relaxants is also a viable option.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Mention that you’ve got CTS to any pro gamer and you’ll be met with sympathy. Lots of it. It’s a pretty common issue for gamers — though it can be managed quite easily with the right physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
This injury happens around the wrist area where the Carpal Tunnel is. As the name suggests, this is a small tunnel located inside your wrist that comprises nerves, bone, and ligaments. This includes the tendons that allow you to move your hand, as well as the Median nerve, which allows you to feel with your hand.
For E-sports athletes who place lots of pressure on the wrist for hours on end, the tissue surrounding this tunnel can easily get inflamed or irritated. The nerve can no longer relay information as it should, leading to weakness in the hand, tingling, numbness, and in some cases pain. Other similar injuries to CTS include epicondylitis and tendonitis, all forms of repetitive strain injury.
This doesn’t just happen to E-sports athletes — in fact, it reportedly impacts roughly 6% of American adults. If you’re experiencing some symptoms, here’s what you can do to alleviate the symptoms. Firstly, do a wrist flexor stretch. This is a simple exercise you can do daily. Simply extend your arm forward and point your palm up. Then, bend your wrist gently, pointing towards the floor until you feel a soft stretch in your forearm. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat a couple of times.
Secondly, you can get a topical gel from any pharmacy or doctor’s office. The gel is typically called Biofreeze and has been said to reduce the pain and symptoms by over 30%. It’s menthol based and has analgesic properties to help you finish your game painlessly.
3. Tennis elbow
Upon first glance, it seems strange that gamers can contract something known as “Tennis” Elbow. However, in reality, very few people actually get this condition from playing Tennis. The real name of this condition is lateral epicondylitis, and it’s caused by small tears in the muscles and tendons in your forearm and elbow.
For gamers, this tends to happen when the elbow is used repetitively, such as in First Person Shooter games like Fortnite. It leads to painful inflammation which can instantly kill a gamer’s chances of competing in top-level competitions.
In terms of treatment, doctors usually agree that a tennis elbow will heal on its own with lots of rest. However, there are some steps you can take to speed up the process. Needless to say, the first thing is to get physical therapy to strengthen the muscles. A trained physiotherapist will be able to recommend best motion exercises to help repair and regain the strength in the forearm and elbow, as well as reduce the stiffness.
Alternative treatments are to ice the elbow for 30 minutes every three hours for three days — simple to remember and easy to do. You can also use an elbow strap to protect the tendon as you go about your day. If you’re looking for a more effective remedy, you can also opt for anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen and aspirin. However, do note that you should only use those in moderation as it could lead to bleeding and ulcers.
To conclude, like all other athletes, professional gamers are not exempted from pro injuries. These are a real risk, so it’s important to keep guard against them when training for the highest levels of competition where the stakes are high and you need to be in peak physical condition.