Yoga for Gaming: Stretches to Prevent Strain During Long Gaming Hours
Video gamers spend an average of 6 hours and 20 minutes each week playing games on their mobile phones, computers, gaming consoles (or console-less gaming services) and/or tablets. Depending on the type of gaming that you’re doing, you could potentially get shoulder, neck and back strain because of poor posture (sitting in a hunched position); hand and wrist overuse injuries like tendonitis, which is inflammation and irritation of the thumb, hand or wrist; and carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a pinched nerve in the wrist. While sometimes it’s hard to stop when you’re in the zone, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that gamers rest every hour. They also suggest getting up every two hours to stretch and do a physical activity. Here are a few yoga stretches that you can do to prevent injury or strain when it’s time for you to take that break.
REVERSE PRAYER STRETCH
One of the five poses that Riva G Yoga recommends to help stretch and strengthen your wrists is the Reverse Prayer Stretch or Phalen’s Test. You start by placing the backs of your hands together at chest level, flexing both of your wrists. Then, you press your hands firmly together (from your knuckles to your fingertips) for up to one minute. Phalen’s Test is also used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). If you experience pain or tingling along the inside of your wrist, you should stop this stretch and consult your doctor or a medical professional, especially if your wrist pain is extreme or unusual.
DOWNWARD DOG POSE
(Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Sitting for prolonged periods of time, the way that most gamers do, can cause back pain; increased stress on the back, neck, arms and legs; and added pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs, according to UCLA Health.
Downward Dog is the perfect pose to observe and correct your body’s imbalances, according to Yoga Journal, since it uses your arms and legs to fully and evenly stretch your spine. The two main movements involve lifting your arms overhead and stretching your legs out at a right angle to your torso. This gets more difficult as you combine these movements and try to hold them upside down against gravity. You can practice Downward Dog for a minute or two every day, then get right back to your game.
As any gamer trying to grind to the top knows, gaming fatigue or gaming burnout is a serious potential hazard of the trade that’s linked to increased levels of physical and emotional stress, combined with limited rest. Gaming fatigue can leave you feeling exhausted and emotionally drained, and experiencing possible physical ailments such as headaches or weakness.
If you’re one of the 38 percent of gamers who’d like to become a professional, as long as you can support yourself, the Warrior pose or Virabhadrasana is for you. Warrior I (one of the three variations of the pose) improves focus, balance and stability, while energizing the entire body, according to Harmony Yoga. It also strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles and back; encourages good circulation and respiration; and stretches your arms, legs, shoulders and neck. You can learn how to do the Warrior pose here.
SIDE THUMB STRETCH
With many top gamers practicing 12 to 15 hours per day, Gamer’s thumb or de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is an injury occurring from repetitive stress that causes inflammation and irritation of the tendons. This injury is most common in console gaming, as it primarily involves thumb stick movements.
The Side Thumb Stretch is a yoga warm-up for wrist pain that’ll stretch your thumb as well. To practice the Side Thumb Stretch, extend your arms out in front of you with your palms facing each other. Then, tuck your thumbs into your palms before folding your fingers over the thumb. Press your little finger toward the ground until you feel a stretch in the base of your thumb, then hold for 30 seconds.
If you need a deeper stretch for your hands, fingers and wrists, Yoga With Adriene has an 11-Minute Yoga Quickie – Hands, Fingers, Wrists video that should do the trick.