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Healthy computing advice from an esports therapist

Buying an ergonomic chair is a great first step. A good chair can help to boost posture, wellness, and productivity. Beyond the chair, it helps to have awareness of health fundamentals and discipline. Dr. Joshua Lee shares potent health and wellness tactics beyond the chair to consider.

Dr. Joshua Lee demonstrates simple wrist exercises
Dr. Lee’s Instagram page shares many easy exercises to try between computing sessions.

Joshua Lee is a licensed physical therapist from the San Francisco Bay area. He’s also an avid gamer with an interest in helping other gamers to adopt healthy habits. He runs the Gamers Advantage Instagram page where he shares mobility exercises, stretching techniques, strengthening exercises and tips for gamers to use in-between computing sessions.

The problem: excessive screen-based sedentary time

Physical therapy for gamers focuses on mitigating the effects of long sitting periods. Extended gaming demands repetitive movements of the upper extremities. This stresses the spine, upper body, and lower body musculatures.

Dangers of poor gaming posture habits
Sloppy computing habits can damage your health and hinder your productivity.

As a result, many gamers suffer poor posture, chronic pain, and musculoskeletal injuries. At the same time, many gamers struggle to find a healthy work-life balance. Burnout is common. That’s why most pro players start in their teens and retire in their mid-20s.

Dr. Lee taking a break from the computer
Dr. Lee stresses regular movement breaks to counteract the effects of excessive computing.

Dr. Lee’s practice aims to educate gamers on how to enjoy long, healthy gaming careers. First, by making gamers more knowledgeable about their bodies. Second, by helping players to adopt healthy and balanced lifestyles.

The most common gamer mistake

Dr. Lee feels that the most common gamer mistake is not taking enough breaks. “Even if it’s for 5-10 minutes every few hours, it’s a big help.”

Mobility and posture exercises for gamers
Mobility and posture breaks can lessen the ills caused by excessive sitting time.

During breaks, he suggests adding mobility and posture drills. Those can lessen the effects of poor sitting posture, while also improving performance. “The body craves movement. Short rest breaks with exercises are like little snacks. Your body can use throughout the gaming session to keep you energized.”

Perfect sitting posture is fleeting

Lumbar lordosis is the inward curve of the lumbar spine in the lower back. Most ergonomic scientists endorse neutral sitting postures that encourage lumbar lordosis. However, prolonged lordotic sitting also leads to increased fatigue and discomfort.

How ergonomic chairs encourage lumbar lordosis
Both gaming and ergonomic chairs (like the pictured Herman Miller Aeron) encourage lumbar lordosis.

Dr. Lee explains. “It is near impossible to have perfect sitting posture for extended periods, and also not normal. The body is dynamic and so is posture. It is always changing.”

Showing how to sit in a neutral sitting position
Get used to using a neutral sitting posture as your default position.

That’s why he suggests getting comfortable with a neutral sitting posture as a starting point. Once accustomed to sitting that way, add breaks and exercises to your routine.

Do gaming chairs help?

In Dr. Lee’s opinion, gaming chairs do help. “Most gaming chairs will provide support from your hips all the way up to your head. This can be a great option for those who sit for extended periods. A good gaming chair can provide the comfort and support you need to reduce the risk of posture-related injuries.”

Gaming chair user guide
A good gaming chair can provide support from the hips to the head. This helps to reduce the risk of posture-related injuries.

The key to a gaming chair’s posture support is a tall backrest with attached support pillows. “This helps keep your spine in optimal alignment, meaning it follows the natural curves in your spine while sitting down.”

Gaming chair compared to office chairs are much better
Poor sitting habits can ruin your posture.

In contrast, office chairs lack spinal support, which makes it more tempting for gamers to slouch. “Over time, your body can adapt to this position. That can cause many problems including breathing dysfunction, poor circulation, and decreased mental clarity.” ⁣

Gaming chair benefits for all people
Good sitting posture improves circulation, concentration, and productivity.

Good sitting posture yields many benefits. For one thing, an aligned spine reduces the strain on your joints. For another, Dr. Lee says “it will help you to be more alert and engaged, which increases cognitive performance.”

Two keys to boost productivity

Beyond the chair, refining habits away from the computer makes a huge difference. Dr. Lee cites two keys:

Get up and move

No matter what type of chair you use, the key is to move. Start with a neutral sitting posture. Use the chair’s backrest when your spine tires.

Astralis team pro esports training
Pro esports team Astralis integrates regular exercise into team training routines.

Dr. Lee recommends “taking frequent breaks in between games, or when waiting for queue times. Even by getting up to replenish with healthy foods or water. Move move move!”

Balance your lifestyle

One of the reasons Dr. Lee started focusing on esports injuries was to raise awareness. “Many gamers are not educated in the health risks that extended gaming careers and sedentary lifestyles can have over time.”

Over 164 million adults in the United States play video games. 75% of American households have at least one gamer. Despite this, Dr. Lee says that “we barely see any gamers seeking physical therapy help.”

Pro esports player injuries
Back, wrist, back and muscle problems are common among pro players.

Per the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), prolonged gaming causes several issues. Most common musculoskeletal issues arise from lack of movement and postural stresses. Common gamer complaints include eye strain, wrist pain, and tension in the upper back and neck.

Balanced lifestyle goals for computer users
Strive for a healthy and balanced lifestyle when at the computer, and also when away from it.

Dr. Lee emphasizes a balanced and healthy lifestyle to address these problems. “Pay attention to nutrition, hydration, and sleep.”

Conclusion

It’s possible to optimize health, wellness, and work performance when sitting full-time at a computer. Learning to sit with a healthy posture is an important first step. To that end, both gaming chairs and pricey ergonomic task chairs can help.

After you buy one, check out our gaming chair user guide. That teaches how to use your chair for optimal posture support. It also points out the most common sitting mistakes to avoid.

Sitting up straight in a gaming chair
Get into the habit of using an ergonomic chair’s backrest and armrests to support your upper body.

Beyond the chair, get into the habit of taking plenty of breaks. Even better, take short stretching breaks. Get yourself a yoga mat and follow the exercises on Dr. Lee’s Gamers Advantage page.

Finally, balance beyond the computer is essential. For instance, Astralis is one of the world’s top CS:Go teams. Their parent company the Astralis Group is a performance optimization pioneer. Their Astralis Performance Model focuses on balanced nutrition, fitness, and rest. When all three are on-point, esports players perform better.

Summary

  1. Get a good ergonomic chair and use it correctly.
  2. Take plenty of standing breaks between computing sessions.
  3. Get adequate exercise, nutrition and rest when away from the computer.

To gain the best use out of this article, grab a cheap yoga mat and excercise bench. Then, visit instagram.com/gamersadvantage. Dr. Lee posts regular gamer exercises for wrist, neck, back, and shoulder problems. Five minutes of basic stretches every hour can make a massive difference.

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