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Gaming - Pleasurable or Painful?

A Pleasurable Past-Time

World of Warcraft. League of Legends. Fortnite. Starcraft II. Counter-Strike. What do all of these games have in common?

Endless hours of fun.

As gamers, we just can’t help ourselves. Gotta sleep at 11PM to get up early the next day?

“Nope, we’re not sleeping yet. We haven’t won a game today. We’re not done yet. Let’s play until we win”

If the quote above sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. With the advent of highly immersive MMO games, with thousands of hours of replayability, more and more people are spending countless hours on end, gaming while glued to their screens.

And this trend isn’t stopping anytime soon. The global gaming market is forecasted to be worth $257 billion by 2025. As games are more widely available for free, on more inexpensive devices such as smartphones, more millennials and zoomers are getting exposed to gaming. As a result, e-sports is set to overtake regular sports in terms of viewership before the end of the decade.

Pain Comes With Pleasure

Centuries ago, humans were hunter-gatherers, and lived active lifestyles. These days, a huge part of the population spend most of their waking hours in front of a screen, living a sedentary lifestyle.

And while most of us barely even consider the possibility of running out of food and going hungry for the night, modern society created a whole set of new problems for us humans - Musculoskeletal Pains

Musculoskeletal Pain refers to any pain in the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and nerves. These include common ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome, gamer’s thumb, lower back pain, tension headaches and migraines, and more.

A study conducted among Danish e-sports athletes found that 4 out of every 10 athletes experienced some sort of pain. The most prevalent pain sites were the back (31%), neck (11%) and shoulders (11%).

And they’re not alone. Hundreds, if not thousands, of gamers each year fall victim to various musculoskeletal pains, after hours of abuse on their bodies. Even the most legendary gamers, despite having professional in-house medical professionals on their teams, are unable to escape this fate if they do not take good care of their bodies.

Most Common Pain For PC Gamers #1

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that involves a compression on the median nerve at the wrist, causing pain in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and part of the ring finger.

Common symptoms include pain, tingling and numbness in the wrist and fingers. It often feels as if the fingers are “falling asleep”. This is because the small vessels that supply the carpal tunnel are restricted and the nerve no longer receives sufficient oxygen and nutrients.

If the condition worsens further, the whole arm can be affected and the symptoms may last longer or occur permanently, resulting in a loss of feeling in one’s fingers, and an impairment in fine motor skills.

Both conditions can cause pain, numbness and tingling in one’s hands and fingers and is usually triggered when the carpal tunnel is too narrow and the structures it contains no longer have sufficient space.

Even God Couldn’t Overcome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Lee Young Ho [Flash] - Starcraft Broodwar & Starcraft II bonjwa (champion)
Team: KT Telecom

Known as the greatest Starcraft Broodwar gamer of all-time, Flash was bestowed the title of “God” and other nicknames such as “The Ultimate Weapon” by fans all around the world.

Winner of multiple OSLs and MSLs, widely regarded as the most
prestigious tournaments in Starcraft Broodwar

Flash was well-loved not only for his impressive strategies, but also his incredible “micro-management” skills and high APM. And this inhuman APM in the 300s, together with tens of hours of daily practice, came at a huge cost - carpal tunnel.

Sharp pain in his forearm and wrists meant that he could no longer subject himself to the gruelling training needed to stay ahead of the competition. After his swan song at Afreeca Star League Season 8 over Snow in 2019, he was forced into retirement and had to undergo surgery.

Translated image taken from jinjin5000’s Youtube channel
Flash needed ice packs after his tournament matches to ease the growing pain in his hands

Preventing & Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the best ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, or alleviate any associated pains, is to regularly take breaks between your gaming sessions and perform hand-related exercises.

Method 1: Hand-Stretching Exercise

Step 1:
Make a fist

Step 2:
Release your fingers and fan them out. Stretch them far out as you can.

Step 3:
Repeat steps 1 & 2
5-10 times.

Method 2: Stay Neutral

Another important way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is to ensure that your hands and wrists remain in a neutral, unbent position while using the keyboard and mouse. This means that your desk should be at an appropriate height, where your arms can stretch out straight without having to bend your wrists.

Method 3: Use A Massage Gun

Massage guns are amazing devices that can help to relieve and support the compromised median nerves and ligaments in your hands so that you can get rid of that numbness, tingling and weakness.

Consider getting yourself a high quality massage gun such as HYDRAGUN so that you can apply deep-tissue percussion therapy to your aching body.

  • Step 1: Pick an attachment - We recommend selecting the ball head or the bullet head.
  • Step 2: Treat the top & bottom of your forearms for 30 seconds
  • Step 3: Move to the palm and treat your palm for 15 seconds
  • Step 4: Stretch the forearm muscles for 10 to 15 seconds

You can do this 2-3 times a day, during your breaks in between your gaming sessions

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Most Common Pain For PC Gamers #2

Gamer’s Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Gamer’s elbow is another common ailment that plagues gamers. It occurs when the fiber orientation of the extensor tendons in the forearms become disrupted.

This dysfunction is called a tendinopathy (jumbled or disorganized fibers) that should otherwise line up parallel with one another. Do note that this is different from tendonitis in nature, where tendons are inflamed (pain with accompanying swelling, redness and heat)

Common symptoms of gamer’s elbow include:
  • Pain at the outer portion of your elbow with wrist movement and gripping
  • Bending your wrist and fingers may cause pain by contracting the extensor muscles
  • Flexing your wrist and fingers forward may cause pain by stretching the extensor muscles
  • Gripping feels weak
Common causes include:
  • Poor hand positioning
  • Lack of eccentric contraction - PC gamers do not perform actions that include eccentric contractions (lengthening of the extensor muscles)

The Price To Pay For A Million Dollar Prize

Clinton Loomis [Fear] - DOTA II, TI5 winner
Team: Evil Geniuses

Dota 2 is one of the largest e-sports titles in the world, with prize pools in recent years spanning in the 8-figure range for first place. Fear is one of the rare gaming millionaires who was fortunate enough to lift the Aegis (championship trophy).

Unfortunately, not long after his championship run in The International V (2015), his career sizzled out due to lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow/gamer’s elbow).

Preventing & Treating Gamer’s Elbow

One of the best ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, or alleviate any associated pains, is to regularly take breaks between your gaming sessions and perform hand-related exercises.

Method 1: Treating Acute Gamer’s Elbow

The way to treat acute pain is similar to other injuries - The RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) protocol can be helpful to relieve pain during the early stages of gamer’s elbow.

It is recommended that you ice the affected area three times a day for 3-5 minutes per session to reduce inflammation.

Step 1:
Rest

Step 2:
Ice

Step 3:
Compression

Step 4:
Elevation

Method 2: Perform Eccentric Muscle Contraction Exercises

Frequent stretching exercises, as well as high-repetition, low resistance exercises can help to strengthen the tendons and reduce pain. Stretching can provide relief by releasing tension on the wrist extensor muscles and improve blood flow to the area.

Method 3: Use A Massage Gun

Consider getting yourself a high quality massage gun such as HYDRAGUN so that you can apply deep-tissue percussion therapy to your aching body.

Tendons have approximately 7.5x less oxygen consumption when compared to their muscles, because they have less blood flow to them. This is one of the reasons why tendons tend to heal more slowly.

In order for your body to heal and recover, blood needs to provide oxygen and nutrients, and remove toxins and cellular waste. Using a massage gun to stimulate your tendons can help to increase blood flow and speed up the recovery process.

Glide the massage gun along the wrist extensors to promote relaxation and increase tissue extensibility. You can also rotate your forearms into pronation and supination, and your wrists into various positions. Keep the massage gun over areas of maximum tenderness with increasing pressure until tension release is felt.

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Most Common Pain For Console & Mobile Gamers

Gamer’s Thumb (De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis)

Gamer’s thumb is a condition that is caused when the tendons that move your thumb become inflamed. Repetitive strain on your thumb tendons lead to inflammation which in turn results in limited movement and pain.

Console gamers are more prone to such injuries as they use their thumbs to press buttons and move the joysticks on the controllers that they game with, as opposed to their PC gaming counterparts who use more of their fingers and hands to control their mouse and keyboards. Mobile gamers are also prone to the same condition as well.

Console & Mobile Gamers - Thumb Comrades
Common symptoms of gamer’s thumb include:
  • Pain and swelling near base of thumb
  • Wrist pain that may travel up the arm
  • Thumb and wrist pain that get worse with movement
  • Catching and popping sensation when moving the thumb

Retiring After A Quarter-Life Crisis

Thomas Paparatto [ZooMaa] - Call Of Duty champion
Team: New York Subliners/FaZe

ZooMaa announced earlier in Jan 2021 that he was taking a step back from competitive Call of Duty on his twitter, being forced into retirement at the ripe old age of 25 years.

The U.S. gamer struggled with weakness in his thumb and his wrist a few years ago while playing for FaZe clan. He had to undergo surgery as a result.

“Going through that process of getting healthy again was one of the hardest things I ever had to do both physically and mentally, which led to a lot of stress and anxiety,” he said.

Unfortunately, the injury has returned making it really hard for me to compete at the highest level against some of the best players in the world.”

He said that playing through the pain in his hand “just isn’t possible anymore”.

Preventing & Treating Gamer’s Thumb

Method 1: Anti-inflammatory Medication

Since gamer’s thumb is a form of inflammation, consuming some form of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug could help to reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain.

Method 2: Stretching Exercises

Hold your hand out, as though you were about to shake someone’s hand. With your other hand, bend the thumb back towards your wrist. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat ten times.

Method 3: Use A Massage Gun

Consider getting yourself a high quality massage gun such as HYDRAGUN so that you can apply deep-tissue percussion therapy to your aching body.

  • Step 1: Select a suitable attachment - The bullet head or the round head are both suitable for massaging the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. You can use the minimum speed setting for your thumb tendons.

  • Step 2: Warm up the area with a gentler sweeping motion

  • Step 3: Increase pressure applied for a deeper massage

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Most Common Pain For All Gamers

Back Pain

Back pain, especially in the lower back, is prevalent for gamers, regardless of their gaming devices. This is largely due to poor sitting posture while gaming.

A health study conducted by health insurer Bupa on 2,003 adults, found that many young people found themselves unwittingly “hunching (24%), slouched or slumping (18%), or sitting with their back or their legs twisted (10%).”

And no, those people weren’t doing yoga at home. They were probably playing games on their phones or PCs, or watching Youtube on their devices.

Posture or alignment problems, when left unchecked, can lead to long-term health problems that become permanent. Lower back pain from poor posture can lead to weakened muscles which become unable to hold the spine in a neutral position. This causes the neck and shoulders to hunch forward and compresses the spine further.

Preventing & Treating Back Pain

Method 1: Fix Your Gaming Setup

The number one reason for back pain and injury is a bad gaming setup which leads to poor posture. Therefore, adjusting your gaming setup could do wonders for you in terms of alleviating your pain.

Firstly, you can consider getting yourself a gaming chair so that you can sit comfortably and upright. Recline the back of the seat 90° to 120°, and try to keep your lower back pressed against the chair, to prevent slouching.

Secondly, you should ensure that the distance between your screen and your eyes should be at least 50 cm (20 inches) apart. The top ⅓ to ¼ of your screen should be level with your eyes. Tilt the monitor at a slight angle upwards to meet your eyes.

Method 2: Stretching Exercises

There are many stretches that can help to reduce pain in one’s back. They include:

Sphinx Stretch

  • Lie on your stomach with your elbows underneath your shoulders and your hands extended in front, palms facing down.
  • Set your feet slightly apart. It’s okay for your big toes to touch.
  • Gently engage your lower back, buttocks, and thighs as you lift your head and chest.
  • Stay strong in your lower back and abdominals, breathing deeply.
  • Press your pelvis into the floor.
  • Gaze straight ahead or gently close your eyes.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Child’s Pose

  • With your hands and knees on the ground, sink back through your hips to rest them on your heels.
  • Hinge at your hips as you fold forward, walking your hands out in front of you.
  • Rest your belly on your thighs.
  • Extend your arms in front of or alongside your body with your palms facing up.
  • Focus on breathing deeply and relaxing any areas of tension or tightness.
  • Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

Knee-To-Chest

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your left knee bent or extend it straight out along the floor.
  • Draw your right knee into your chest, clasping your hands behind your thigh or at the top of your shinbone.
  • Lengthen your spine all the way down to your tailbone, and avoid lifting your hips.
  • Breathe deeply, releasing any tension.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
Method 3: Resistance Training

Training and developing your back muscles can greatly improve your posture, reduce back pain, and prevent back injury. The best exercises for strengthening your back include rows (dumbbell or machine), deadlifts and lat pull-downs.

Method 4: Use A Massage Gun

Consider getting yourself a high quality massage gun such as HYDRAGUN so that you can apply deep-tissue percussion therapy to your aching body.

  • Step 1: Start by applying the massage gun to your hip flexors. Apply it for 15 seconds on each side.

  • Step 2: Apply the massage gun to your hamstrings for 15 seconds on each leg.

  • Step 3: Apply the massage gun to your TFL (tensor fasciae latae) for 15 seconds on each side.

  • Step 4: Apply the massage gun to your adductors for 15 seconds on each side.

  • Step 5: Apply the massage gun to your lower back and QL (quadratus lumborum) areas for 15 seconds on each side.


  • Step 6: Perform light stretching on your adductors and do some forward stretches too.

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The Bottom Line

  • Take frequent breaks, do some light stretching and walking around the house every 1 to 2 hours.
  • Use a percussion massage gun like HYDRAGUN to massage areas that are feeling sore, numb or are experiencing sharp pain
  • Try to be more aware of posture and make a more pleasant gaming environment

Try It Yourself

We are confident that you’ll love HYDRAGUN. As an avid PC gamer and as someone who works from home, I found HYDRAGUN very useful for alleviating back pain and carpal tunnel for myself.

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B

07/06/2021

Bob Omar

Fantastic Gun

"I have tried few cheap brands and it doesn’t give me the oomph. Tried this magical baby and wow...instant relief. Of cos i got to bribe my nephew to massage my back...money well spend. My lovely mum is so afraid to use it on me :). I have recommendad a friend to use this product and he loved it. Willl give another colleague this as a farewell gift."

A

31/05/2021

A Halim

Excellent Product

"I purchased the hydragun after seeing their instagram page and also reviewing the testimonilas on their website. I use the Hydragun mainly to ease my frozen shoulder condition due to long hours in front of the computer for my job. It is an excellent product which helps me to relax most of my muscles."

E

15/05/2021

Elizabeth brott

Most popular object in the house!

"I bought this to manage chronic back pain as recommended by my chiropractor. Its reduced my use of analgenics, I also use it before and after runs. My boyfriend who is a serious athlete know uses it after swims and my kid uses it during stay at homw long zoom meetings. Its the best purchase ever!!"

DISCLAIMER: The information presented in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please consult a medical professional before attempting any treatment.

HYDRAGUN Singapore Health & Medicine