If you enjoy playing computer games, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor by learning how to maintain a good gaming posture as you play. Carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, and blurred vision are common complaints of gamers these days. There are even esports players who have had to end their careers due to gaming-related ailments.
With a proper gaming setup and good habits, you can game longer and still stay pain-free. Here’s what you can do.
1. Adjust Your Desk Height
When your desk is too high, you’ll strain your forearms when mousing and typing. Too low, and you’ll be forced to slouch, straining your neck, shoulders, and back.
According to the Canadian Standards Association, the average person should aim for a 28.7” high desk with a 1” allowance.
You’ll know if it’s the right desk height for you when there’s ample space under it for you to cross your legs. It should also create a 90° to 110° forearm to upper arm angle when your arms are resting on the desk.
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2. Check Your Monitor Placement
If you often feel neck and shoulder pain after playing, the most likely culprit is a badly placed monitor. A monitor that’s too far will have you leaning forward to see what’s on the screen. Even a meager 15° tilt of the head can double the pressure on your neck.
Of course, a monitor that’s too close is not good either. This can lead to eye fatigue, macular degeneration, and even blindness.
Place your monitor at an arm’s length away from you, about 20 inches. Tilt it about 10° to 20° to make the screen easier to see. You’ll know it’s properly placed when the top part of the screen is at or slightly below eye level.
3. Tweak Your Armrests
Set your armrests so that your elbows are bent about 90° to 110°. When it’s too high, you’ll put too much pressure on your forearms, leading to cubital tunnel syndrome. When it’s too low, your shoulders will have to hold your arms round the clock, causing fatigue and even pain.
4. Invest in an Ergonomic Mouse and Keyboard
When buying an ergonomic mouse, look for one that fits your hand properly. It should be light enough with adjustable DPI to change the mouse cursor’s sensitivity. You might consider a vertical gaming mouse that induces less wrist rotation when you hold it to minimize the chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Meanwhile, mechanical keyboards are great for gamers due to their low-resistant, super responsive mechanical keys. Split keyboards can also solve the issue of wrist pronation by letting you angle the two halves separately.
If you’re a leftie, there are keyboards and mice specifically designed for people like you.
5. Position your Keyboard Properly
An incorrectly placed keyboard forces your wrists and arms to assume awkward positions when gaming or typing in general. Over time this can lead to arm and wrist injuries. Follow the below advice to position your keyboard properly:
- Place your keyboard in front of you. It should be within easy reach. Your elbows should be at your sides while typing.
- When centering a keyboard with a number pad, base it on the letters. This means that the letter B is the center point.
- Tilt your keyboard away from you using a keyboard with a negative tilt of about 15°.
- Use a keyboard tray or drawer to keep your forearms parallel to the floor if needed.
6. Look for a Chair with a High Back
Any gamer will tell you that the first thing usually aches after a long gaming session is his/her neck and back. That’s why getting a chair with good back coverage is crucial.
Ergonomists recommend chairs with a high back if you have back issues instead of a mid or low-back one. They support your entire upper body as you lean back, from your head, cervical spine, to your back. Most gaming chairs are high-back chairs.
7. Learn to Adjust Your Seat Height Properly
When your seat is too low, your thighs will not rest flat on the chair, adding pressure to your hips and lower back. If it’s too high, your feet might dangle, cutting off the blood flow under your thighs. These issues can lead to conditions like sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sciatica, or lower crossed syndrome.
Adjust your seat height so your two feet are comfortably resting on the ground and your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
8. Stretch Often
The most important thing that will keep you healthy as a gamer is to take frequent short breaks. Stand up, take a quick walk, and stretch in between matches. These microbreaks will give your body a reprieve from sitting and boost your blood flow.
Here are a couple of stretches that you can do during your breaks.
Hand Stretching Routine
This exercise for the hands and wrist is simple yet effective in keeping carpal tunnel syndrome away.
- Raise your arms in front of you.
- Lift your hands and fan out your fingers.
- Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Clench your fist and squeeze.
- Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Rotate your wrists inwards to make 3 circles.
- Do this again, this time rotating your wrists outwards.
- Repeat this routine twice.
Standing Side Trunk Stretch
This refreshing stretch will release the pent-up tension in your back and obliques.
- Stand upright.
- Interlock your fingers.
- Raise your hands towards the ceiling with your palms up.
- Keep your elbows straight.
- Slowly bend your torso as far as you can to your right.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Do the same for your left side.