Good ergonomics is absolutely vital for Esports professionals and serious gamers that want to improve their gaming performance.
Let’s start with the basics!
What Is Ergonomics And Why Is It Important?
Ergonomics relates to a person's muscular efficiency in their working environment. Some people refer to it by the much-cooler-sounding term ‘human engineering’. It’s all about creating an environment that helps you to maintain optimal posture. This helps to reduce the risk of injuring yourself, keeps you comfortable, and improves your performance and focus.
Why Ergonomics Are Important For Gamers?
Many assume that gaming is a 'risk-free' kind of sport that does not require any physical activity. But, that's absolutely wrong! There are actually substantial risks to serious gamers. Here's why:
- Serious gamers spend a majority of their time sitting down
- Typically utilizes the same hand and wrist movements repeatedly
These two factors put you at risk of all sorts of repetitive strain injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, and other ailments, including:
- Gamers Thumb (De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis)
- Carpal Tunnel
- Trigger Finger
- Tennis Elbow
- Chronic Lower Back Pain
- And more...
These are similar injuries that can be sustained in traditional contact sports. What do other sports athletes do to avoid serious injuries that will cause under-performance or worse, put them out of the game? They practice good conditioning and positioning everyday.
Here Are 10 Healthy Practices To Keep You Safe and Well Conditioned For Gaming
1. Maintain Good Back Posture
This is the most important tip! Exercise good posture!
Maintain a slight (natural) curvature of your back and don't slouch. Here’s how:
- Start by sitting down on your chair with your back pressed firmly against your backrest
- Next, push your shoulders slightly backward while pushing your chest slightly forward
- Finally, lift your head up straight so that it’s in line with both your neck and core
2. Use A Lumbar Support Cushion
Lumbar support is a cushion or similar piece of material that you place behind your back region so that you can lean back while still keeping good (natural) posture.
Lumbar support is a key feature in most ergonomic designed gaming chairs. Some chairs have a built-in adjustable lumbar support, while others come with a lumbar cushion.
Take advantage of these added features in your gaming chairs and avoid lower back pain.
3. Set The Right Backrest Angle
The ideal angle to set your chair is at 90-degrees. However, maintaining a 'perfect' upright position for long hours is nearly impossible. That's because our stabilizer muscles will fatigue and our body will slouch forward after a prolonged period of sitting.
You do not want to overwork or strain your muscles. Periodically, adjust your backrest and try different angles to keep your body comfortable to avoid injuries.
4. Set The Right Seat Height
It is critical to be comfortable in your seat. Similar to positioning your backrest, you must also adjust your seat level to adapt to the screen.
- It affects your neck posture and eye-level relative to the screen
- It affects the angle of your arms and elbows
- It affects your overall stability in your seat
Your eyes must be level to the center of your screen to avoid any unnecessary upward or downward tilt in your neck. If you need an additional lift in your seat, consider a seat cushion.
Allow your arms and elbows to be able to rest at a 90-degree angle on your arm rest. Do not over-extend your joints, which may cause elbow or shoulder strain. Proper IRL positioning helps your in-game mechanics too!
Be sure your feet can reach flat to the ground and straighten your hips to maintain a comfortable and stable position.
5. Move Your Screen The Correct Distance Away
Rule of thumb is to set your screen one arm's length away from your seated position. Again, always adjust to what make you most comfortable.
Having your screen too far away can cause eye strain. You don't want to overwork your eyes on objects being too far or too close to you. Set a distance that suits your own vision. This can help you focus and have a quicker reaction time than your opponents!
6. Make Sure Your Arms Are Supported
As mentioned when setting your seat position, you must have your arms support while gaming. The armrest or desk should be positioned so your shoulders and elbows are more or less at a 90-degree angle. This helps reduce stress on your muscles and prevent any serious injuries - and get those double and triple kills!
Ergonomic keyboards and mice can help you to keep your arms and wrists in a neutral position while you play and further reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
7. Take Frequent Breaks
Keep the blood flowing in your body and naturally activate other muscles that were idle while your were sitting. Get up and walk around every 30 mins to 1 hour to re-energize your body.
You can even do some stretches in between queuing up for the next game!
8. Control Your Breathing
This can be difficult! Imagine yourself in the last seconds of the game, adrenaline is pumping and you need to make the BIG play for your team. But, you panic and choke.
Irregular breathing can cause you to tense up your muscles, especially in adrenaline-driven and stressful situations. Practice taking deep breathes to relax your muscles and to calm your mind and body.
So, next time you're in a game winning situation, it's Easy Money Sniper!
9. Exercise Regularly
What?!? Gamers need to exercise?
While gaming is not a traditional physical and full contact sport, you are still regularly using muscles in your body. You need to condition and train your muscle endurance to remain healthy and safe for long hours of gaming. Much like traditional sports, this does not come overnight.
Be sure to have an exercise routine that fits your abilities and style of gameplay.
Our final tip is relax! It’s simple, but very effective. This is healthy for you both mentally and physically.
Next time you get ganked or lag out of a game, take a minute to relax. Control your emotions (focus on your breathing), and take a quick break if needed. When you're relaxed, your mind will be focused and calm, and will even improve your gaming performance!