Binge gaming is an art. The ability to speed past levels and enemies for hours on end all while holding the perseverance to keep on going takes some commitment. Plus games immerse us into beautiful worlds that folks don’t often wish to leave.
However, as anybody who’s done a couple of these binge sessions in a row knows, back pain starts to become a persistent issue. Even if our characters are running marathons trying to go from checkpoint to checkpoint, you as a player are not.
Turns out sitting in the same chair for hours on end can be quite bad for your back.
Back pain is usually the second most common reason people visit their doctor. Long term back pain can lead to serious health issues such as permanent spinal damage.
Your spine is like a train, being made of various carts connected at multiple junctions. These junctions allow your spine to twist, stretch, and compress. When you slouch in your chair for long periods of time, you’re compressing these junctions and the muscles supporting them which causes them to sprain and cause back pain.
So is it time to hang up the controllers and keyboards for good? As if.
Here are some methods for getting rid of your game pains
Table of Contents
Prim and Proper Posture
The key to alleviation may just be some simple adjustments.
First off, make sure your monitor is fully aligned with your line of sight. Being hunched over to see your screen puts your neck muscles under unnecessary stress. When your back is straight, your screen should be right in front of you. The goal is to straighten out your spine and reduce tension in your neck and back.
Second, make sure you’re keeping your feet flat against the ground. This forces your pelvis into a position where it can support the rest of your body. The more of your body supporting your neck and spine, the better.
It may take some time getting used to adjusting your posture if you’re used to slouching, but your body will thank you as using these two adjustments together will prevent any back pain.
Get the right PC gaming chair
Your best bet may be in the type of chair you use. PC Gaming chairs are designed to allow players to sit for extended periods of time. What gaming chairs do is position your back in such a way that increases blood flow to your neck and back muscles.
A good gaming chair will support your head and center your bottom in the middle of the chair, causing you to sit up straight. If you don’t have the money for a gaming chair, try putting a rolled up towel in between the top of your tailbone and the chair to force your body to straighten it’s spine.
Something important to keep in mind however is the softness of your gaming chair. Yes, it may seem relaxing at first if your chair is all cushioney and soft, but this can actually contribute to your back pains.
Our bodies are naturally geared to work with earth’s gravity to maintain a good posture. Your skeletal muscles in fact depend on earth’s gravity in order to do this. Your brain interprets a cushioned surface as unstable and unreliable. Your body will end up holding itself up by tensing your muscles rather than giving into gravity. This muscle tension in turn, strains your back and neck causing pain.
Hard surfaces on the other hand, will force your body to maintain good posture. So you want to find a chair that’s hard enough to maintain composure while still being comfortable and ergonomically correct.
Get up and move once in a while
This is probably the most important tip in alleviating back pains: stretching and exercise. Although, you’re probably playing video games to procrastinate from exercising, it’s vital if you want a pain free gaming experience.
Regular movement doesn’t have to take up too much of your time, sometimes just getting up to stretch every 20-30 minutes will do the trick. Stretching is essential for back health so don’t be afraid to use that pause button, it’s there for a reason. Don’t just stretch while your playing video games though, try stretching throughout the day perhaps once when you wake up and again before you go to bed.
If you’re already experiencing severe back pains, stretching can be your best solution. If that doesn’t work, always consult your doctor.
On top of stretching in your brakes, you should also go for brisk walks, run on the spot, or any exercise that improves cardio. These can even be essential to game play as sometimes it’s better to step away from the game for a while in order to strategize your next move. Also, cardio exercises can increase blood flow to the brain and improve your reflexes.
Exercising here and there may reduce the amount of time you’re actually playing, but it’s crucial to your health and enables you to play for longer periods of time.
Kill two birds with one stone
The simplest solution to alleviating back pains may just be marrying exercising and gaming together. There are a plethora of games out there that promote physical activity (Just Dance, 1-2-Switch, Wii sports, etc.)
With continuing advances in virtual technology, players have multiple options and access to game play that incorporates physical movement.
However, there’s nothing stopping you from playing and exercising simultaneously. It could be as simple as having a controller in your hands while exercising on a stationary bike. Whatever the case, any exercise you do will increase your chances of preventing back pains.
Video games provide many benefits such as critical thinking and problem solving skills. Plus, for some of us, it’s our much needed favourite past time.
We game because it brings us joy, never to cause us discomfort. But with a little care and effort on your part, you’ll be passing checkpoints like crazy and never complaining about back pain ever again.