As gamers, we have all heard the jokes. “Go outside!” “Get some exercise!” “You know how bad that is for you?” Normally, we don’t care about their opinions. We just go right back to Fortnite, Valorant or FIFA (if we’re feeling sporty), but the truth is, gaming does have some physical drawbacks.
We’ve all heard of gamers suffering with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (aka Gamer’s Claw), but did you know that the repetitive strain of gaming can also lead to sore muscles, lingering pain and even diseases caused by immobility? Yes, we’re serious. Having spoken to many top tier gamers, it seems like chronic back pain is a pretty common occurrence--and they’re only in their 20s. Unlike Call of Duty, you can’t just spawn back to full health when things go sideways -- these injuries can last a lifetime.
If we haven’t already scared you, or you are yet to throw on the headset and look for a landing spot in Battle Royale, take some time to learn more about muscle recovery for gaming. We promise it is worth your while. And unlike Fortnite, you can count on us to never vault our Drumgun when you need it most.*
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the median nerve (located at the base of the hand) of the carpal tunnel is irritated through pressure, stretching or inflammation.
The word “carpal” refers to a series of eight bones in your hand, and the “tunnel” refers to a group that includes these eight bones and the transverse carpal ligament, located near your thumb.
Now that we have the science out of the way, let’s move onto causes and treatment:
Repetitive movement of the hands and wrist, as happens when playing video games, can inflame the tissues surrounding the carpal tunnel. As these tissues swell, they exert pressure on the median nerve, causing the pain, numbness and burning sensations that CTS is infamous for.
The negative effects of CTS are worsened by excessively continuing these repetitive motions, which poses a particular challenge for gamers. While some games offer the chance for players to alter controls and movement, it is hard to find an entirely new way to play.
Many of us just assume “Oh, my hand is tired and cramped,” and maybe take a break for a few minutes/hours, not realizing that we are actually dealing with a potentially serious injury.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects millions of people every year, and is usually a very treatable affliction.
But with 2 billion people around the world playing video games, many rheumatologists fear a dramatic rise in CTS. This is especially true for PC gamers, who are among those most likely to experience CTS from holding their mouses for long periods of time.
While we at Drum do not claim to be doctors or medical experts*, research has shown that the best treatment for CTS usually involves some combination of splinting/bracing, percussive massage therapy, stretching exercises and altering the repetitive motion that is pinching the median nerve.
Using a splint might seem like a hassle, but it can actually be quite effective and noninvasive. Wearing a wrist splint at night will keep the wrist straight for a lengthy period of time, helping to soothe the pain you feel after a long gaming session.
Percussive massage therapy may also help relieve tight and sore muscles in your hand or forearm. Simply turn on your Drumgun to a low setting and maneuver it slowly across the palm of your hand, bottom of your fingers, as well as the upper and lower forearm. This should be done in conjunction with other hand stretches such as wrist extensions (see below) for optimal results.
Proper wrist stretching can also bring positive results. A few of the most effective stretches for CTS are:
- Hand Squeezes
- Find a tennis or similar sized ball and hold it in your hands
- Squeeze the ball and hold for five seconds
- Repeat seven to ten times for full effects
- Shake Outs
- Hold your hands out in front of you with palms down
- Vigorously shake your hands for a minute or two
- This technique can be helpful during game breaks, as it gives your hands a needed stretch
- Wrist Extension
- Hold your arms out straight and face your palms away from you
- Use one hand to gently pull back the other wrist toward yourself until you feel a stretch
- Hold for fifteen seconds
- Repeat five times for each hand
Our final tip is to try your best to limit the repetitive motion that causes you pain, but that is often easier said than done. We get that, if you are playing games long enough to be left in pain, this is something that you enjoy, are passionate about and might even make money from.
But the truth is, CTS is no joke. Ask anyone who suffers from it, and they will tell you how painful it can be. Chronic sufferers who avoid treatment can even need surgery to intervene and relieve the median nerve.
Sore Muscles and Chronic Pain
For many long-term gamers, lower back pain is a significant burden to both gameplay and daily life. Often caused by extended time sitting down, this pain can become chronic and debilitating when ignored.
In addition to this common problem, many gamers experience strained muscles in the neck and shoulders. This typically occurs when gamers hold themselves in awkward or hunched positions for extended periods, putting immense strain on their body that they might not even realize.
If we’re being honest, our habits and postures as gamers often read like a How-To guide for neck, shoulder and back pain.
Whether we realize it or not, many of us spend hours hunched over in front of computer/TV screens, so zoned in on the game that we don’t even realize the tension running through our body.
The bad posture and immobility that serious gamers are infamous for often leads to muscle soreness that becomes chronic and debilitating over time. If treatment is not received, this pain can become deeply rooted in our muscles, eventually reducing our quality of life.
Fortunately for gamers everywhere, this type of muscle soreness is extremely treatable. In fact, here at Drum, we have developed a percussion massager that targets the exact pain and soreness caused by gaming.
Unlike the Drum Gun in Fortnite, which is meant to inflict as much pain as quickly as possible, our Drumgun is meant to be your go-to for rapid pain and muscle soreness relief. Equipped with five different head attachments, four different speeds, an ergonomic grip and an adaptive pressure system, the Drumgun uses percussive therapy to deliver a pain relieving massage.
Still not sure how it works? Think of it this way: the Drumgun delivers jolts of pressure to sore muscles--providing a soothing, deep tissue massage. This percussive therapy technique stimulates circulation, breaks up lactic acid buildup and increases range of motion.
Whether you’re preparing to lock in for a 10-hour gaming marathon or recovering from a long night of Call of Duty, the unique features of the Drumgun have you covered.
The fork and flat shaped head attachments target soreness in the neck and back, while low and high speed settings provide a range of treatment options for all types of muscle pain.
For hard to reach spots that plague gamers, like the lower back, our unique, ergonomic grip allows the massager to reach muscle groups that the competition simply cannot. Plus, our adaptive pressure system guarantees that the Drumgun matches the force you exert, ensuring your massage will always provide you the ideal level of pressure.
In addition to percussive treatment, a great way to address the root of this problem is to improve your posture. To place yourself in the ideal position, it is important to find a chair with a comfortable headrest, keep your gaming monitor more than two feet from your face and situate your arm rests so your elbows rest at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible.
The Diseases of Immobility
By nature, gaming is a sitting activity. That’s part of why many of us enjoy it: all the fun, none of the physical exertion. But the truth is, the physical toll of long periods of inactivity can be far worse than that of extreme exercise.
The adrenaline and anxiety of many popular games, combined with immobility, leave our muscles locked in tense periods for hours at a time. This inevitably leads to inflammation and tightness. In certain situations, muscles can even suffer painful spasms.
Extended immobility has other, more serious effects as well. Muscles commonly lose tone and strength during long periods of inactivity, which can have detrimental effects over time. In extreme cases, muscular atrophy, osteoporosis and even deep vein thrombosis, where a blood clot develops deep within the vein, have occurred.
As scary as these effects might sound, there is some good news as well: the effects of immobility can be easy to prevent. All you have to do is get up and move!
Taking a break to go for a walk around the neighborhood, do an at-home workout or finish some household chores you’ve been procrastinating can all be great ways to get your body moving.
While we know these might not be fun at first, the keys to beginning a new routine are goals and persistence. Once you get started, it becomes easier to find motivation and see results. Before you know it, your physical activities become a cherished part of your day, a way to strengthen your body and clear your mind.
Plus, the more active and healthy you are, the more you can enjoy video games. No, we aren’t kidding. There isn’t much that feels better than sinking into the couch after a great workout and settling in for a long night of gaming with friends.
Between add-ons, expansion packs and in-game purchases, gamers are constantly sold things they neither need nor want. At Drum, this isn’t what we are about. As a gamer, you are part of our community and our mission: to bring premium, percussive therapy at a great value.
Whether you’re a weekend gamer or an esports legend, we’ve got you covered.
Join #teamdrum today.
*Medical Disclaimer: We at Drum are not intending for any suggestions in this article to be taken as medical advice, nor are we suggesting that the Drumgun is a supplement or replacement for medical treatment. You should consult with and obtain approval from your own doctor before using the Drumgun or following any suggestions mentioned in this article, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions, injuries, or other concerns, or if you are currently taking any kind of medications.