Any gamer worth their salt has experienced some hand discomfort while playing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been going hard on a console or as a member of the PC master race, extended periods of gaming can lead to noticeable hand pain, as well as long term hand injuries.
As the link between excessive video gaming and hand pain becomes more clear, we’ll want to take steps to alleviate and prevent injuries. There can be a lot of options out there when it comes to finding the right hand exercises for gamers. It’s important to know what you should be stretching and why you should be stretching it.
What Causes Hand Pain From Gaming?
Tension is the enemy of our hands and wrists; the hours spent hitting buttons furiously and devoting full attention to the game have our hands wearing down due to the tension.
For almost every console gamer, the shape of the controllers can contribute immensely to how much tension is being placed on your hands. Extended periods of playing time will cause discomfort regardless of what you’re playing, but games that require many button presses (as well as a wide usage of buttons on the controller) can do the most damage to your hands and wrists. In competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee, there can be hundreds of inputs per minute on the less-than-ideally shaped GameCube controller; some players have had to retire from the game due to excessive hand injuries.
A long term (but costly) solution is the development of new controllers; the B0XX is an example of creating a controller layout that eases tension on the hands while still allowing the game to be played at the same level as with a GameCube controller.
But the real prescription is making sure to take extended breaks (10-15 minutes) every hour or so, and to incorporate hand stretches into your routine. This reduces the tension buildup in your hands and allows you to play longer, with more intensity, and also with better prospects for your hands’ long term health.
It’s also worth noting that PC gamers still have to worry about hand issues; every type of gaming has players increase tension in their hands and joints while focusing on the game at hand. Even if you aren’t contorting your hands to fit some whacky controller, breaks and stretches are important.
Do Hand Exercises Improve Performance?
Are they going to help you get good at the game? No, not a chance. What hand stretches can do for gamers is help prolong their careers much more than if they didn’t stretch at all. Hand pain can often be a hindrance since it leads to people playing less, and for those looking to be competitive, hand pain can deter players from learning difficult to execute techniques.
With proper hand stretching, you can reduce a lot of hand pain, which will ultimately give you more practice time as well as healthier hands to practice harder tech in games; so in this way, your performance can improve.
The Best Hand Stretch Exercises For Gamers
The best video for doing hand and wrist exercises before gaming is this short five minute video by Dr. Levi Harrison. It covers the basics for keeping your hands fresh before and during breaks from gaming. Memorize these or just keep the video handy for when you’re about to get back to playing:
It’s important to remember that if you’re experiencing severe hand and wrist pain to always consult a doctor; hand stretches won’t cut it here. Also, even if one set of exercises doesn’t seem to work for you, be sure to ask around for more. Any stretching is sure to be better than none at all.