Esports and Gaming: Preventing Overuse Injury

September 12 is National Video Games Day - and while ‘gaming’ and is not a traditional athletic sport, doctors say esports athletes can get injured too.

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CLEVELAND – September 12 is National Video Games Day.

Gaming and esports have soared in popularity in recent years.

While ‘gaming’ is not a traditional athletic sport, according Dominic King, D.O., a sports medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic, gaming athletes can get injured.

“Some of the injuries we see in esports athletes are overuse injuries of the hand, such as tendonitis – both of the flexor tendons and the extensor tendons,” he said. “We also see things like carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as overuse in the elbow and in the shoulder.”

There are different types of gaming – whether performed on a console, virtual reality, or computers – and the injuries will vary based on which type of gaming a person prefers

Depending on the position in which the gamer is playing, Dr. King said esports athletes can also have strains in the neck, and back area.

Esports athletes can have problems with eye-strain too.

However, Dr. King said parents probably don’t need to worry too much about their kids getting injured from regular gaming, as these injuries are still pretty rare – and typically only impact professional gamers who put in a lot of hours.

He said most people develop issues when they ignore symptoms, which is why it’s important to take action if aches and pains begin to persist.

Dr. King said just like any other athletes, esports athletes have to listen to their bodies to prevent injuries.

“If you’re playing a game, and you feel soreness in your wrists, or in your hand, or if you feel numbness or tingling, soreness in your neck or your shoulders, you need to take a break, do some stretches, get up, walk around, and then come back,” he said.

Physical fitness is key – not only for injury prevention, but also for overall wellness.

Dr. King said having a higher level of fitness has also been shown to improve mental clarity, accuracy, and focus.

“Video gaming itself is not an incredibly athletic, highly cardiovascular sport, so you have to find a way to incorporate strength and conditioning, fitness, and nutrition into your lifestyle as an esports athlete, just like any other athlete would,” he said.

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