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1HP’s Esports & Gaming Health Q&A #1

Welcome to 1HP’s first monthly grab bag of questions! Once a month, Matt and Cait sit down to answer common questions we’ve gotten over the last month. Here’s our most popular questions this month:

HEALTHGAMEFAQs#1

1| I was wondering if you had any recommendations for chairs (or things to look for in chairs) to buy for using when playing console games like Smash. I wanted to prioritize ergonomic value and comfort since they’ll probably be used for hours in a row, but didn’t really have any needs beyond that.
In general, the more points of adjustability a chair has, the better. That’s because the more ways it can be adjusted, the more likely it can be adjusted to fit your specific needs. Essential points of adjustability to keep an eye out for:
  1. Seat height
  2. Armrest height
  3. Back angle
After that, there are other valuable things to consider if available:
  1. Armrest angle
  2. Seat angle
Outside of adjustability, it’s also important to consider the density and breathability of material, the seat depth, and how a chair fits in your overall setup. If the material is too soft, you won’t get the support you need; if it’s too hard, you’ll get sore on points of contact (mainly back and butt). We use “seat depth” here to refer to how far back the backrest is from the front of the chair. If you have shorter legs (like Cait), you’ll want a shallower seat. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself unable to actually use your backrest without digging into the backs of your calves in the process. If you have longer legs (like Matt), you may need a deeper seat in order for your lower body to be fully supported. Lastly, you want your chair to put you in a position keeps your eyes level with the top of your monitor, your back supported in a straight upright position, your forearms supported and level with your keyboard (preferably around the height of your bellybutton), and your feet flat on the floor.

 2| Any advice for relieving metacarpophalangeal joint stiffness? Only just recently started to bother my right hand. HALP my MMR
Image result for metacarpophalangeal jointFor reference, here’s your metacarpophalangeal joint (in green):
In addition to doing a good warm-up prior to playing (playing on cold, stiff joints can make stiffness and pain worse), consider adding tendon glides during your breaks, after gaming or just throughout the day. Check out the graphic below on how you can perform tendon glides. Additionally – if you believe you have MCP joint stiffness… what do we always suggest for stiffness? Stretching! There are joint stretches you can do to improve the mobility of these joints. The lumbrical stretch in the 6 MINUTE WALKTHROUGH Matt has created can be a useful way to gently stretch these joints. The walkthrough is also an overall way to improve the mobility of your fingers and hands – but be careful! Do not push excessively through any of the movements shown in the video to cause yourself pain. Your goal is to feel mild discomfort and a gentle stretching sensation – it is NEVER okay to feel sharpness during a stretch. 

3| I have what I suspect to be a ganglion cyst in my wrist that hurts after I play Melee. Any suggestions?
A ganglion cyst is a noncancerous cyst (small bump) that can develop around joints. Most times, ganglion cysts will resolve by themselves with time, and treating the pain with active rest, ice, and medication as appropriate. However, on occasion it may be necessary to have a cyst drained by a medical professional. If your ganglion cyst is interfering with normal function, resting on a nerve and causing significant pain, or if it lasts more than a week, see your doctor determine if draining or removal are appropriate for your particular case.

4| Being tall, it’s usually hard for me to properly place my back on the seat and reach the keyboard/mouse at the same time, even at work. Any suggestions?
I suspect it may have to do with your seat depth. If you’re finding that you can’t sit all the way back in your chair to use your back support while also comfortably reaching your keyboard and mouse, an easy DIY fix is to bolster your seat back by adding pillows, cushions, or other support. You can also consider an under desk keyboard tray, which can extend out further from your desk and bring your keyboard and mouse closer to you.

5| How come I do not have endurance in my muscles if I have been playing games and using computers my whole life? How come pain only began recently?
Hey guys, Matt here 😀 – This is a great question and is very important for us to address. The first and most important point we have to consider is that just because we do not have pain, it does not mean we are doing the right things.  Just as it takes some time for health problems to manifest with an individual eating Macdonalds for every meal every day – our bodies also eventually breakdown if we put it in an environment where it cannot adapt to the stress is applied to it. This is why injuries or pain occur over time even though one may have used computers and played highly technical games like Smash Melee over their entire lives. What about our endurance?  It may seem logical that a lifestyle of using the computer and playing games should allow us to build up the endurance of our muscles/tissues over time however tissue adaptations occur when there is an optimal amount of loading. Optimal meaning just enough to allow the tissues to gradually develop in endurance overtime – however it is ALWAYS the amount of how often we play and perform our daily hand manipulation activities on the computer which cause tissue BREAKDOWN instead of ADAPTATION. The dose creates the injury. So for most individuals we often do not think about scheduling or paying attention to how often we play because we’re more focused on playing the game or improving than protecting ourselves. Creating blocks of play-time can be a great way to prevent playing excessively and causing tissue breakdown to occur.

That’s it for this month’s questions–if you’ve got answers you’re looking for, send the questions our way and we’ll answer them in the next iteration of HEALTHGAMEFAQS

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