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How to Prevent Low Back Pain in Esports

Competitive gaming usually involves sitting for long periods of time. Unfortunately, prolonged sitting is not ideal for the body. Low back pain is the second most common pain pattern in gaming, and it can be a major issue for gamers who ignore it. It’s easy to get caught up in the game and not think twice about your posture. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent and reduce back pain. In this article, I’ll explain the common cause of low back pain for gamers and provide ways to reduce pain and prevent future injuries.

Sitting with bad posture can lead to muscle strain, which is the most common cause of low back pain. Players may feel aching in their low backs a couple of hours into a gaming session, especially if they’re playing on a consistent basis. For gamers, it can be difficult to treat this pain, since sitting is unavoidable. However, you’ll be able to reduce and prevent this all-too-common pain with the tips and tricks below.

The first step toward pain-free gaming is improving the ergonomics of your posture. A big cause of back pain is neck alignment, and the easiest adjustment you can make involves your field of vision. For most gamers, you want the top edge of your monitor to be at resting eye level. This prevents you from looking downward and hunching while gaming. Being in a hunched position puts unwanted pressure on your neck and spine, which can contribute to pain and potential injury. By keeping your head perpendicular to the floor and your feet flat on the floor, you will force your spine to remain straight. These simple adjustments will help relieve stress on your muscles and joints.

Taking breaks is another important aspect of healthy gaming. Walk away for about 5 to 10 minutes and do something physical, like going for a walk, making a healthy snack, or cleaning. Movement will help warm up your muscles and keep your joints lubricated, reducing the likelihood of low back pain. It can be difficult when you’re practicing with a team or really into a series, but try to find a little time every hour to get up and move around. Breaks will also allow your eyes to rest, all while improving your overall health and performance.

The third step is pain management for temporary low back pain. A variety of techniques can be used to reduce pain, but today we will focus on cold packs, heat packs, and massage therapy. When using a cold pack, you will want to place the cold pack on the affected area for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will reduce the conduction speed of nerves for a reduced sensation of pain, so use it after a gaming session or as needed. A heat pack can be used on the affected area for about 10 to 15 minutes to increase blood flow to the area, relieve muscles, and help with recovery. Massage has similar effects and is a useful technique that can be done by yourself or with equipment like a foam roller. These tactics are quick and useful in reducing pain and promoting healthy recovery of your muscles.

Strengthening exercises are the last tip we will discuss. These exercises can improve muscle weaknesses, muscle imbalances, muscle stiffness, and overstretched muscles, all of which contribute to low back pain. A solid exercise program for gamers will require some form of these exercises to improve the strength and endurance of the abdominals, erector spinae muscles, glutes, and hamstrings. These four muscle groups are very important when it comes to sitting and posture, so by keeping them strong and healthy, you’ll be able to enjoy your gaming experience without low back pain.

I have put together some downloadable exercises that can help you strengthen these muscle groups. These exercises can be done before, during, or after a gaming session. If you have any more questions regarding low back pain or posture, sign up for a free consultation at esportsperformancelab.com!

Jake Middleton
@JakeAtESPL

My name is Jake Middleton and I’m the founder of esports Performance LabLLC. I have been working with gamers and doing research for the past few years in esports performance. I have a bachelor’s degree in exercise & movement science from Missouri State University and I’m a certified exercise physiologist and a certified personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine. I’m an avid gamer myself, ex-competitive Halo player, huge Game of Thrones fan, and I live in Kansas City, MO.

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