Back pain affects people of any age group for varying reasons. Unfortunately, being in your prime years doesn’t give you immunity from this condition. If you’re a competitive gamer, the odds of experiencing lower back pain are heightened.
Competitive gamers are at risk of various physical and overuse injuries. And among the lot, back pain is the second most common health complaint in esports players. Research has demonstrated that around 40% of esports athletes will experience some form of back and neck pain .
However, being an avid gamer doesn’t seal your fate. By modifying your habits and lifestyle, you can prevent and reduce lower back pain. We’ll explore the measures you can take to minimize this risk and the various treatment options for nagging back pain.
Why are Gamers at Risk of Back Pain?
If you game for more than 5 hours each day, you could be at risk of experiencing lower back pain . Chances are, a competitive gamer or professional esports player will check this box.
Lower back pain is multifactorial rather than the result of a single cause. Contrary to popular belief, sitting for extended periods alone doesn’t drastically increase your risk of experiencing lower back pain. However, prolonged sitting in combination with suboptimal and awkward postures will leave you more susceptible to this physical ailment .
It isn’t unusual for esports players to be plopped in front of their computers or devices for hours on end. Due to the massive amount of time dedicated to practice and training sessions, you’ll likely have less time to stretch, exercise, and perform physical activities. Studies have supported this fact, where researchers found that an estimated 40% of professional players do not get any form of physical exercise at all .
However, prolonged sitting and sedentary habits are not the sole reasons for back pain. Your posture could be another contributing factor. Frequent use of computers and smartphone devices can lead to changes in habitual posture, and some of these postures can increase the strain on your muscles, bringing about neck and back pain [4, 5].
Will Back Pain Affect My Esports Career?
Back pain is a prevalent ailment in esports athletes. However, the level of pain and discomfort experienced from person to person will differ. Though this condition may cause minimal distress for some, the pain and symptoms may be debilitating for others.
One study focused on esports athletes found that some players who dealt with musculoskeletal pain, or pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, were significantly less involved in esports training sessions. This was in comparison to players who did not experience any such pain. At the end of the study, researchers suggested that musculoskeletal pain could limit the ability of players to participate in esports-related activities .
Hence, there is a possibility that your esports pursuit may be hampered by nagging back pain. Of course, there are ways to prevent and treat this ailment, so you won’t have to permanently leave your esports career on the shelf.
Back Pain Treatment Options and Prognosis
It’s best to seek a healthcare professional’s advice on the most suitable treatment for your lower back pain. You may be given medications such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These helps to relieve and reduce the pain and inflammation associated with your condition. Occasionally, your health provider may also recommend a muscle relaxant. On top of that, you may be advised to stay physically active .
Other possible treatment options are heat wrap therapy, acupuncture, and massage. These are usually recommended in conjunction with other treatment or as a second-line measure when medications are not effective enough .
On the other hand, research has not proven the efficacy of bed rest or back-specific exercises in combating acute pain and discomfort in the lower back .
If your back pain persists for more than 12 weeks, this would then be classified as chronic back pain. The management options for chronic back pain differs slightly from what is usually recommended for short-term pain . Letting your treating physician know how long you’ve experienced this condition would allow them to tailor your treatment specifically to suit your needs.
Back Pain Prevention Measures For Gamers
Prevention trumps cure each time. Prevention of physical ailments and overuse injuries would allow you to pursue your esports career without such hindrances.
There is mixed evidence surrounding the efficacy of ergonomic equipment such as gaming chairs in preventing or alleviating lower back pain. Studies suggest that they may help improve your posture and reduce the strain on your lower back during extended periods of sitting, though they’re not guaranteed to work for everyone [9, 10].
When sitting and gaming, try to practice good posture. Keep your back rested against the chair, as leaning forward may lead to slouching. Your lower back should be well-supported, so if your chair does not provide lumbar support, you may use a pillow to prop up your lower back instead. You may also wish to recline your chair slightly and place both feet flat on the floor while gaming.
Most importantly, try to break up long periods of gaming with enough exercise, stretching, and rest. Getting some form of physical activity will improve your back flexibility and strength, so try to incorporate this into your schedule . Finally, your doctor will be able to provide personalized advice on how you can best prevent back injuries and pain.
Lower back pain is the second most common physical health complaint among professional gamers and esports athletes. Though many of us brush off this ailment as a minor annoyance, it isn’t always a benign condition. Allowing your back pain to prolong and worsen over time may endanger your esports pursuit.
You can prevent back pain by practicing good posture and ensuring you incorporate enough rest and exercise into your daily schedule. And if you are currently experiencing it, seeking early treatment will always lead to a better prognosis.
Disclaimer: This is an educational post on managing back pain as a gamer. It should not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. EsportsHeadlines.com and the author of this post disclaim any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, as it is not meant for diagnostic or treatment purposes.