Esports is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and as prize pools for some of the biggest games continue to climb, more people will continue to try their hand at professional gaming. Regardless of your opinion on the sport, you can’t deny that the activity is incredibly physically demanding on the hands and wrists. In fact, one of the best Call of Duty players in the world recently retired from the competitive scene due to a hand injury.
Many professional gamers and streamers devote a large portion of their day to online gaming, because that’s what is demanded of them to build an audience and become skilled enough to become one of the best players in the world. But these 8-, 10- or 12-hour shifts on the Playstation, XBox or computer will have short- and long-term consequences for their hands and wrists. Below, we take a closer look at how our physical therapy team can help gamers keep their hands and wrists healthy so they can continue doing what they love.
Why Hand Injuries Are So Common In ESports
Injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and joint problems are very common in professional gamers and streamers for a number of reasons. For starters, they aren’t often aware of the health risks that repetitive long gaming sessions can have on their health. They assume that because they are young, they won’t have to worry about the risks of repetitive movements for decades. However, these extended sessions with repetitive and strenuous hand and wrist motions can greatly speed up degeneration and leave your hands looking like that of a 65-year-old secretary.
Also, many gamers get poor advice for how they should deal with soft tissue and repetitive motion injuries. They are often told to brace, ice and rest, and while that can provide some short-term relief, problems are just going to come back when they jump back into another long gaming session. Instead, doctors and physical therapists need to stress the importance of therapeutic exercises to strengthen key areas in order to prepare them for the rigors of the activity.
Oftentimes hand issues among gamers and streamers come from weak tendons or ligaments that aren’t equipped to handle hours of repetitive stress. It’s not enough to just rest the area, we also need to be working to target the specific soft tissues that are weakened and to strengthen them so that extended stress isn’t so detrimental to their ability to function properly. It’s about treating the underlying cause, not the symptoms of the condition.
How A Physical Therapist Can Help Gamers
Now that you know that targeted strength training is important, especially if you want to continue gaming or using a computer, we want to explain how a physical therapist can help. For starters, we can conduct a physical exam or use imaging tools to figure out exactly what’s causing pain and which soft tissues need to be addressed. Then we can develop a safe training program that gives you the tools to manage flareups with our assistance or through an at-home routine.
Physical therapists can help gamers and streamers in other ways besides just targeted strength training. We can also:
- Educate you on the forces you’re subjecting your hands to and explain how this can lead to structure damage so you can make sure you’re not putting your health at risk.
- Examine your posture or talk about your gaming setup so that your posture and hand positioning isn’t exacerbating the problem.
- Help you develop a healthy schedule that provides your hands and wrists with enough time off between sessions to recover.
- Discuss other conservative options that can help with discomfort, like heat/ice therapy or anti-inflammatory medications.
Let untreated, hand and wrist problems can lead to the need for surgery or the onset of lifelong pain, so don’t just assume that discomfort after an hours-long gaming session is normal. If pain or discomfort is becoming more persistent, reach out to OrthoRehab Specialists. You don’t need a referral from a physician, and we can help develop a diagnosis and treatment plan in as little as one session. If you want to keep gaming for decades, you need to monitor your hand and wrist health in your youth. For more information, or for answers to questions you might have about your hand pain, reach out to OrthoRehab Specialists today.