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Orlando Health and Magic Gaming Partner to Prevent Esport Ailments

April 04, 2019

Like other athletes, those who play esports must take care of their physical and mental health. Recognizing this need, Orlando Health has partnered with Magic Gaming, a collaboration between Orlando Magic and the NBA 2K league, to help players on the gaming team stay in peak condition.

Playing video games offers health benefits for players from children to adults, including enhanced reflexes and hand-eye coordination, increased mental flexibility, better short-term memory and an increased ability to multitask.

But sitting in front of a monitor for hours, whether practicing or playing in a tournament, can take its toll on a gamer’s body. Although it may not appear that gaming is particularly demanding, research shows that’s not true. One study by the German Sports University found that the physical stress on gamers is similar to that on other athletes. The need for stamina, quick reflexes, mental acuity and physical activity are important for any type of athlete, and nutrition and training can help. The study says that a gaming athlete’s career is short because reflexes slow down, and the careers usually end when gamers are in their mid-20s. However, the study suggests that with better nutrition and training, that career could be extended up to 5 years.

Players, whether recreational or professional, need to be aware of these top gaming ailments so they can be prevented or addressed.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerves to the hand become compressed, causing pain, tingling and numbness to the hand and arm. Hand on gaming mouseWithout treatment, it can lead to permanent nerve damage; however, with early treatment, symptoms often can be relieved.

To avoid or relieve carpal tunnel, try these exercises that extend and contract your hand and wrist:

  • Form a fist, then extend and stretch out your fingers.
  • Use your other hand to gently pull back and stretch your thumb, then each finger.
  • Extend your arm with your hand flexed back. Take hold of your fingers with your opposite hand and gently pull them back toward your wrist. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Hold fingers together, spread out fingers, then close again. 
  • Extend arm, stretch wrist down, then up and back, rotate wrist one way, then the other.
  • Shake out your hands, form fists and release, repeat.

Back and Neck Pain

A lack of good support and posture can cause back and neck pain. Maintaining proper ergonomics will help. The right chair, with armrests, is a must. Make sure the height of the chair allows you to sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent 90 to 120 degrees. This takes pressure off of your back. If your feet don’t to reach the floor, rest them on a foot stool or box.

Good lumbar support helps avoid lower back pain as well as neck and shoulder stress. Use a small pillow or rolled up towel to provide more support if needed.

Use an ergonomic gaming mouse and keyboard. Make sure both of these are 2-3 inches above your knees, close enough that you don’t have to reach for it to move. The motion to move your mouse should come from your elbow, not your wrist. Do not use a wrist rest with your keyboard. Keyboards with wrist rests increase pressure on carpal tunnel up to 200 percent more than keyboards without a wrist rest.

Shoulder Pain

Stress and sitting in the same position for hours can cause shoulder pain. When sitting at the monitor, keep your shoulders square and your back relaxed. Sit up straight and try not to lean forward. Shoulder shrugs and rotations can help ease tension.

For pain radiating from your shoulder to the elbow:

  • Extend your arm and turn your palm downward to face you. Using your other hand, push your palm further toward you, bending your wrist. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Then bend your wrist the other direction, so that the back of your hand faces you. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Extend arm, bending wrist and palm to the right. Use your other hand to press down the top of the hand to the right, holding for 30 seconds. Do 3 sets. 

Epilepsy

Video game-induced seizures are among the most common forms of photosensitive epilepsy and most often affect men. It can occur because of sensitivity to lights, patterns, movement on the screen or emotional or cognitive excitement. If you have seizures, it is important to see your doctor to determine the cause of the seizures and treatment.

Obesity

Video game addiction among teens has been connected to obesity in large part by negatively affecting sleep, according to research. Lack of sleep is related to elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides and high insulin resistance.

Teens can offset this by using active-play electronic games such as Xbox 360 and Kinect to improve their weight and health.

Among adults, studies related to obesity are linked to screen time, whether it’s TV or computer usage. Obesity in this group is attributed to less time given to exercise and more time snacking during screen time. 

Eating a nutritious diet and being physically active can help maintain a healthy weight. Taking frequent breaks from sitting also is helpful.

The gaming industry continues to grow. Understanding, preventing and addressing these key health risks will help gamers stay healthier so they can enjoy esports for a lifetime.

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