Twitchcon is just around the corner! As a streamer we spend a several consecutive hours each day streaming our favorite games or just to hangout with our followers. It’s a great time usually but almost always I feel a little stiff, dirty (grimy) or just unhealthy after a streaming session – especially if it was a longer one (those 24 hour streams).
Staying Healthy as a Streamer: Understand the physical stress
While 24 Hour streams are popular and are often ways to raise money for charity – the health of the streamer is often sacrificed. And this is something we do not talk about enough. I want this article to help raise some awareness for this idea of understanding the physical stress and toll of streaming but really sitting for prolonged periods of time. As we know, earlier this year a streamer died during a 24 hour stream – something which should NEVER happen if we take care of ourselves appropriately.
So today, I want to share with you guys four STEPS to take to stay healthy as a streamer.
Step 1: PLAN AHEAD – Stream with some intent… and some breaks
Planning ahead means instead of just using our pockets of free time to stream, we have intent with when we’re going to stream and when we’re going to take breaks. It means doing a LITTLE planning before we play or stream for the week or even the day. Yes planning sounds like a hassle for a lot of us, but it actually only takes less than a couple minutes when it’s actually done.
Just like if we want to improve in the respective games we play – we have to plan. If we want to get better at CS:GO do we just keep matchmaking endlessly? Or smash if we aren’t able to play with consistent l-canceling or wave-dashing do we keep playing aimlessly without a focus for each game hoping we’ll get better?? No, smart players and professionals have a goal for each game and play with intent to ensure they are improving on one part of the game. Whether it be an aim training map or 20xx training.
So just like we plan to get better – a LITTLE planning can go a LONG way into improving our health
As I mentioned earlier, we need to remember sitting for prolonged periods of time holding our bodies up against gravity, moving our wrists, forearms and hands can be stressful for the body. The longer we sit, the more likely we are to affect our bodies negatively. Whether it be strain in our muscles or reduced activity/efficiency of our organs – we have to seriously consider it!
With that in mind – how should we plan for streaming?
1| First consider how long you are going to play – This prevents us from binging for the extra three hours that we didn’t intend to play but we were peer pressured into because of a full lobby.
1HP RX: Consider your own schedule – Determine how long you will be playing. Ex: I will play for three hours from 7:00-10:00 PM
This will vary based on your own schedule but many of us are streaming after work and may only have 2-3 hours. For those who stream professionally, i’m sure you get up to 8 hours and that’s fine as long as you consider
2 | Breaks! Studies have shown the effects of blood pooling when sitting for an HOUR can be reversed if we get up to walk for at least 5 minutes. This helps us alot because we can schedule in our breaks during our streaming session!
It does not have to be STRICT TIMING (unless you’re the super organized type then go ahead) ex:
7:00-7:50 PM Game 1
7:50-8:00 PM Break
Instead you can use general rules because ALL GAMES ARE DIFFERENT. Some competitive games can take 40-45 minutes while other casual games you can pause at any time you want.
1HP RX: Try to take a 5-minute break at least ONCE every hour, or after 1-2 competitive games.
Ideally you would be doing some exercises to undo the stresses of sitting… but just getting up to walk around is helpful as well. Check out an article i wrote about what to do during your break or this 5 minute exercise routine you can do!
For them 24 hour streams – I would also try to include longer breaks every 4-6 hours (30 minutes or so to get up and really walk around just to get fresh air and actually feel rejuvenated before you get started streaming again)
3 | FOOOOOOD, Fuel your gaming session. Many of us only eat when we start to feel hungry a couple hours into a long stream (ha-ha yeah that is what everyone does) INSTEAD we should think about when we’re going to FUEL our streaming/gaming sessions. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you have eaten a balanced meal before you start and have some food to sustain the brain activity and mental focus it takes to game every couple of hours. Realize we are utilizing a lot of our bodies resources to multi-task between gaming and interacting with our viewers so we should re-fuel every 2-3 hours with a healthy snack (again see my article for some healthy snacks).
Lastly… STAY HYDRATED – have a nice bottle or glass of water nearby to stay hydrated. It will also force you to get up every now and then for those bathroom and refill breaks 🙂
1HP RX: So eat before you start (a balanced meal or snack), have a healthy snack every 2-3 hours and make sure you are staying HYDRATED
Step 2: Check yo setup. Better Posture & Ergonomics mean better streams
That’s right. I’m going to keep repeating this concept over and over in my content because that is just how important it is: MAKE SURE YOU SIT WITH BETTER POSTURE AND ERGONOMICS
While prolonged sitting is most commonly the larger issue, when we are planning to sit for awhile and stream – it is important we do so with better posture and ergonomics. I have written more in depth about this before but the bottom line is our muscles are in a more optimal position with better posture and take longer to fatigue because of this.
The natural result of this more optimized posture is being able to play longer with less aches and pains in the body. Not only is there the benefit for better physical health – it has been shown to improve our focus and cognitive function because of being in a more “open” posture. My belief is that it allows the rib cage to more fully expand which leads to better respiration and oxygen to the brain – it has not been clearly explained in research at this point.
I want to give you my top three tips for posture….And there you have it. Your four steps to being a more healthy streamer. Share this with your favorite streamer or your fellow streamers so we can make twitchcon 2240 a reality (we’ll be healthy for that long)
Until next time gamers..The order is ALWAYS:
1. Chest-Up 2. Chin-Tucked 3. Shoulder Blades Back
Chest up first because it affects the position of our mid-back and you can think of it as the foundation for our “upper bodies.” When we position this we also tend to sit more upright as well. Secondly chin tucked because we do not want to have the forward head we so commonly see along with the stiff neck muscles that come along with it (upper traps). Lastly shoulder blades back because through thin connections of tissues it can actually affect how quickly our wrists and hands fatigue
What about ergonomics? The main purpose of optimizing our environment is to more easily put us in a position of better posture so my big tips are:
- Keep things neutral (wrist and low back especially)
- Forearms supported
- Feet supported ((by the way this is my favorite foot support :))
Use a chair which provides a slight lumbar support to allow your lower back to assume a more neutral position. This stresses the supporting tissues of the spine the least. Don’t worry about disc pressure – that has been shown to be not associated with low back pain despite all of these articles out there. The infamous lounging image is outdated 🙂
Here’s my quick reference for ergonomics!
Step 3: GET SCHMOOVING, Exercise and be a more healthy streamer
EXERCISE is the #1 way we can ensure we can stream for longer, with less pain. How? General conditioning and exercise improves our tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) ability to handle more stresses without strain or breakdown! Basically it means we will have more muscular endurance so it takes longer for our muscles to fatigue and subsequently strain.
What exercises do we do? For gaming specific exercises – it is important we work on the muscles we use most commonly to both hold our bodies up against gravity and perform the small movements of the wrist and hand
Check out some of the exercise videos Caitlin and I have made to address these in the links below 🙂
- Wrist and hand exercises – more muscular endurance for the muscles we use to type and click
- Postural Exercises – Positioning our shoulders, Strengthening our core, etc
- Mobility Exercises – To undo the stresses of sitting (muscles stiffening up as a result of not moving for an extended period of time)
Step 4: Have fun & use your community!
Your viewers (most of them), fans and community watch you because they like your personality and care about you. Or you’re just great at the game. Either way – they are there for a reason! You can ask them to REMIND you to take a break.
Remember how games are starting to include those break reminders? Well let’s ask your twitch/streaming community to help you out and remind you about when you should probably take a break! If we all keep health in mind as we watch and play – we can help each other elevate the HP of our community.
Here, i’ll even let you borrow these “taking a health break” streaming banner/screens 😀ORRR…
you can use moobot to set timers and commands! You can set !break, !stretch !food to have your viewers remind you when to take a stretching, snack or mental break during your streaming session. Or you can set a timer for moobot to pre-emptively remind you and all of your viewers to get up and do some stretches or exercises!
Whichever you choose, remember you have your community 🙂
And there you have it. Your four steps to being a more healthy streamer. Share this with your favorite streamer or your fellow streamers so we can make twitchcon 2240 a reality (we’ll be healthy for that long)
Until next time gamers..