It's no surprise that prolonged sessions of gaming at hundreds of actions per minute can trigger some nasty wrist pain. Whether it’s swelling, soreness, or a dull throbbing, hurting wrists are never fun.
The danger of acquiring wrist pain from gaming is its chronic and repetitive nature. In some cases, excessive gaming can cause permanent damage to the wrists.
The most common injury gamers face is carpal tunnel syndrome. This happens when severe swelling occurring in the carpal tunnel, the narrow passage in the middle of the wrist. Nerves and tendons that run through the tunnel become compressed, resulting in a loss of sensation in fingers, weakness in the wrist, and tingling sensations. The common wrist position and movements used by gamers commonly leads to this repetitive strain injury developing.
Before severe carpal tunnel sets in, there are ways to mitigate its harm through simple remedies. Here are five remedies to relieve wrist pain that will allow you to game pain-free.
Use the right hardware
Using the right hardware when gaming can be one of the best ways to mitigate any repetitive stress injury that may occur.
Using your mouse in the wrong way can cause wrist pain. Notice if your mouse does not fit your hand perfectly, you may grip it tighter than usual while gaming. This is the kind of strain that may cause carpal tunnel.
When it comes to a mouse, we recommend that you invest in a mouse designed for prolonged use, or even specifically for gaming. Example brands worth looking into are the Zowie EC Ergonomic series or the Razer brand.
Nearly all professional gamers invest in a professional gaming mouse, and there's a reason why. Beyond just better ergonomic designs, a gaming mouse comes built with added features that improve your performance in a game—it's a win-win.
The same advice applies to keyboards. Invest in a gaming keyboard with optimum key travel and responsiveness to light pressure. The right keyboard will prevent lasting damage to your finger joints and give your wrists a break. It can also help to avoid any pro-longed problematic postures that can result in pain.
Buying an affordable mechanical keyboard, such as the Redragon brand, can do wonders.
Improve form and posture
Having the right hardware helps with wrist pain relief, but not without the right form and posture.
If one slouches over for a prolonged period, this is not going to help, and wrist pain will be one of the many problems that will surface.
Maintain good posture by keeping your back upright between 90 to 135 degrees, and your feet rested on the floor flat with knees at 90 degrees. Take micro-breaks to move your joints and muscles. Use posture cushions whenever possible if your existing chair isn't ideal for maintaining a straight back.
Keep the monitors that you use positioned in a way that keeps your gaze straight ahead with your eye level to the top third of the screen. Make sure you are not hovering your arms. Instead, you should rest them on your desk. This is key to avoiding any shoulder or wrist pain from developing.
Your form is critical in avoiding any repetitive strain injuries, and a good gaming chair can go a long way in ensuring this. But even just taking micro-breaks and being aware of your posture is a great start.
To complement the micro-breaks recommended in the previous section, incorporating longer, more formal breaks can also help with pain relief.
These breaks are important because they give your body a rest from the intense concentration and rapid muscle movements that gaming requires. If possible, it's good to take these breaks and incorporate some form of exercise or stretching (more on this later).
How long should breaks be? We recommend a 5 to 10-minute break every hour—at least. And every third hour, take a longer 20 minute break to give your body some time to rest and relax fully.
Related: How to Avoid Repetitive Stress Injuries.
Stretching before and after the game, as well as in between breaks, is another helpful wrist pain solution. Doing so helps to relax your wrists in order to avoid lasting pain and soreness.
When you stretch, you loosen up your body's muscles and improve your blood circulation. This helps keep the range of motion free from any tightening that may occur in the muscles or tendons.
Some stretches to carry out for your wrists are:
- Rotate your wrist up and down, then side to side. Do this at least five times.
- Stretch fingers apart by pushing them outward. Take a 30-second break and repeat. Do this four times.
- Pull back the thumb gently and hold it for ten seconds, then release. Do this four times.
- Finally, hold wrists in the prayer position in front of the chest and below the chin. Then, move your wrists towards the waistline until you feel a moderate stretch. Repeat this three times with 30 second rests in between.
More effective tools are also available that help to stretch and massage your arms and wrists to help alleviate any soreness and improve circulation. Our Gelliflex® Abacus® is a self-massage tool that is a worthwhile investment in helping carry out exercises such as squeezing, rolling, and compression for your fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow.
Keep your hands warm
Finally, avoid gaming in cold environments. The cold weather can stiffen up wrist muscles, make them swollen and accelerate existing injuries.
If it's hard to avoid playing in a cold environment, taking occasional breaks to the bathroom and warming your hands in lukewarm water can help. Additionally, purchasing fingerless gloves that are lightweight but insulating can also help. A nice hack is to sit on your hands during every micro-break to warm them up as well!
Another solution to avoid wrist pain when getting ready to play and warm down is incorporating the Gelliflex® Abacus® in your gaming routine. This helps relieve current pains, and prevent potential pains before they cause lasting injuries.
These remedies can go a long way in helping prevent any wrist injuries. Just don’t forget to always seek professional help from a physical therapist should you suspect any wrist pain. A medical professional can help come up with an accurate diagnosis of what's causing the pain and the right adjustment in one's gaming lifestyle to remedy it.
Check out our videos about how to use the abacus® for compression therapy & exercises that will leave you feeling better than ever.
Related: The Gelliflex® Abacus®: Ideal for Gamers.