For decades, the video gaming industry has continued to grow, and so has the list of ailments that gamers often experience. From neck and mid-back pain to aches in the lumbar spine, gamers need to take preventative measures to ensure they have good posture. The best posture exercises for gamers depend on your gaming setup, how much time you spend in front of your device, and whether you have any pre-existing spinal or musculoskeletal issues. Whether you are preventing injuries or are treating one, chiropractic care and gaming are a winning match.
Posture Exercises for Gamers to Prevent or Treat Injuries
No matter what type of gaming you are into—casual, competitive, or ranking—you’re going to be seated for long periods of time. There are many seated positions that you can fall into, creating your comfort zone. However, becoming complacent in that position can lead to neck strain, hunching, mid-back and lower back pain, and repetitive stress syndrome from using a mouse or controller. Stretches and posture exercises for gamers are important in preventing injury and improving your performance.
The following exercises and stretches strengthen your core and can help improve your posture and spine alignment:
- Child’s Pose: This stretching position lengthens your spine, glutes, and hamstrings, releasing tension in your lower back and neck. To perform child’s pose, sit on your shin bones with your knees together, your big toes touching, and your heels spread apart. Fold forward at your hips with your hands stretched out in front of you. Sink your hips toward your feet. Turn your head to one side or place your forehead to the floor—whichever is most comfortable. Remember to relax and continue to breathe deeply while conducting this stretch.
- High Plank: This exercise helps to strengthen your core, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. To perform a high plank, place your knees and hands on the floor, ensuring your hips are over your knees and your hands are beneath your shoulders. Straighten your legs to lift your knees off of the ground and get into a push-up position. Keep your legs hip-width apart or slightly wider. Keep your ribs down and your pelvis slightly tucked. Make sure your back is straight and that you focus on your core, arms, and legs while facing the floor. Your chest should be open and your shoulders back. Hold this position for a few seconds at a time while continuing to breathe.
- Leg Lifts: Leg lifts strengthen the lower abs and inner thighs. To do a traditional leg lift, you will need to lie on your back with your legs straight and your toes pointed down. Lift your legs 12-18 inches off the floor (or however high you feel comfortable) while keeping your core tight. Slowly lower your legs back down until they’re just above the floor. Hold for a moment and repeat the process. As an alternative, seated single-leg lifts also work your core and can work your knee joints and ligaments (these can even be done while gaming).
- Chest Opener or Wall Angel: To perform this exercise, stand with your back against the wall and place your feet 6-12 inches away from the wall with your knees slightly bent. Lean your mid-back against the wall and flatten your lower back against the wall. Tuck your chin slightly toward your chest and place the back of your head against the wall. Bring your shoulders down away from your ears and bring your arms up 90 degrees, placing your elbows and the backs of your hands against the wall. Slowly straighten your arms above your head to form a Y position, and then slowly release back down. Keep the repetitions slow and controlled.
- Thoracic Spine Rotation: This exercise relieves pain and tightness in your back while increasing stability and mobility. To perform a thoracic spine rotation, get on all fours, sink your hips to your heels, and rest on your shins. Place your left hand behind your head with your elbow extended to the side. Keep your right hand under your shoulder or bring it to center and rest it on your forearm. Exhale as you rotate your left elbow up toward the ceiling and stretch the front of your torso. Take one long inhale and exhale in this position. Release back down to the original position. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Wrist Flex and Extend: This exercise helps blood flow to the most essential body parts for gamers and minimizes the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome or a repetitive strain injury. To perform this exercise, hold your arm straight out in front of you, with your wrist and your hand straight and the palm of your hand facing down. Bend your wrist so that your fingers point toward the floor. You can use your other hand to increase the stretch, gently pulling the fingers toward your body. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat in the opposite direction. This is an easy exercise that can be conducted multiple times a day, even while gaming.
Good posture helps you to develop strength, flexibility, and balance in your body. Conversely, poor posture can lead to disc degeneration and the inability to reverse spinal curvature. Long-term, you may experience bone spurs, numbness and tingling in your hands, and pain radiating down your arms.
Poor Posture and Spinal Misalignment Prevention
Your game depends on your posture. If you further contribute to a misaligned spine with poor posture, the consequences could become irreversible. Carpal tunnel exercises, neck extensions, and shoulder exercises are great prevention techniques.
However, your gaming area set-up can be a major contributor to poor posture and eventual spinal misalignment. We’ve outlined posture exercises for gamers; now, let’s take a look at how to set yourself up for success.
- Find the right position: Your starting position sets the tone. Begin by sitting at the end of your chair and rolling your shoulders and neck forward with your head down. Slowly pull your head and shoulders up into a tall sitting position. Push your lower back forward until you feel the curve of your spine straighten. Hold for a few seconds and release the position slightly. Scoot yourself backward until your spine is touching the back of the chair and your hips are placed in the bend of the chair. This is a good posture position.
- Support your back: Now that you’ve found the right position, it’s important to support it. If your gaming chair doesn’t have lumbar support, grab a small pillow or a towel and roll it up. Place the pillow or towel between the chair and your lower back. Make sure neither are too large, or you could force your spine into an awkward position that will quickly become uncomfortable.
- Adjust your chair: Move your seat up or down until your upper legs are parallel to the ground and your knees are even with your hips. Make sure you have a good armrest so that you’re not hiking your shoulders. Plant your elbows by your side, and extend your arms into an L-shaped bend. Arms that are extended too far out can add stress to the muscles in your arms and shoulders.
- Put your feet on the floor: Having your feet firmly planted evenly on the floor improves blood flow and reduces muscle strain. Do not cross your legs or have one leg propped on the knee of the other. If your feet can’t reach the ground, find an ergonomic footrest that you can adjust for your needs.
- Keep your screen at eye level: It’s important to make sure your TV or monitor is close enough to you and at eye level so you’re not craning your neck forward. The top of your screen should be no more than two inches above your eye level. Computer monitors that are too low or too high can strain your neck ligaments and muscles as well as your eyes. Using books to adjust your screen’s height is a cost-effective solution.
- Correctly position your keyboard and/or mouse: Your keyboard should sit directly in front of your computer or monitor with 4-6 inches between the edge of it and your gaming desk so that your wrists have room to rest while you type. If you use a mouse, it should be on the same surface as the keyboard and within reach. Stretching to reach any item could cause muscle strain and fatigue.
- Use the right mouse and controller: Handling joysticks and controllers and frantically pushing buttons can cause carpal tunnel syndrome and finger pain. It’s important to choose a mouse that fits your hand and a controller or joystick that does not stick. No matter what type of gaming controller you use, hand and wrist stretches are essential to preventing serious joint and ligament issues.
- Take regular breaks: Sitting for long periods can reduce proper blood flood and cause muscle fatigue. Taking frequent, short breaks to stretch, walk around, or perform some of the above-mentioned exercises can drastically reduce spinal misalignment from gaming.
How Proper Posture Improves Your Game
There are so many advantages of practicing proper posture and being in tune with your spinal alignment. Below are just a few reasons you can play better with good posture:
- Less stress on the body allows you to breathe better, leading to better circulation and fewer aches and pains.
- Good posture reduces your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injuries, text neck, indigestion, and shoulder and neck pain.
- Being poised and alert helps you react faster during gameplay.
- Your stamina is increased, allowing you to play even longer.
If you have been gaming for years and are experiencing neck, mid-back, or lower back pain, seeing a chiropractor who utilizes Chiropractic BioPhysics® will help. Misalignment of the spine due to excessive gaming can create long-term health issues if not treated appropriately.
Get the Winning Chiropractic Treatment
As chiropractors specializing in Chiropractic BioPhysics®, the doctors at PostureWorks understand the mechanics of the entire body. We provide the most well-rounded expertise to effectively diagnose and treat the ailments caused by gaming. Our customized treatment plans, based on biometric readings and your health goals, include three phases of care—initial care, corrective care, and maintenance care. Whether you’re playing casually or competitively, we will work with you to ensure you’re performing at your best.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. CBP is conservative, evidence-based, and non-invasive. To learn more posture exercises for gamers or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks, contact us today.