Ever find yourself having to go to sleep because your eyes hurt so bad from staring at a screen? Or maybe you have been playing video games for countless hours and your back is hurting. Well, turns out video games can have quite a negative health effect on individuals who play too much!
One study that surveyed 65 U.S. collegiate esports competitors esports-related injuries found that the most frequently reported complaints were eye fatigue (56% of the sample), neck and back pain (42%), wrist pain (36%), and also hand pain (32%) (DiFrancisco-Donoghue et al., 2019). As the data shows, eye fatigue is a very common issue with people who play video games (or stare at a screen too long). “Esports” is organized competitive video gaming (Jenny et al., 2017). Most gamers sit very close to the screen, which is very harmful to the eyes. Too much exposure to LED lights, emitted from computer screens, can modify melatonin levels, which can negatively impact your sleeping patterns (DiFrancisco-Donoghue et al., 2019).
Back pain is another commonly reported injury with gaming. Most gamers sit in a chair to play, sometimes for hours at a time without taking a break. The stress that this puts on the back can be serious. Lam and colleagues (2022) conducted a survey-based investigation on spine posture, mobility, and stability with mobile esports players and found that over two-thirds of the sample reported musculoskeletal pain, including headache, neck, shoulder, upper extremity, and back pain.
Wrist pain is another common gaming-related injury. This can happen to PC gamers as they are moving the mouse around vigorously to achieve success in their games. The constant strain that the arm is putting on the wrists is a lot of pressure and can impact the mobility of the wrist. Similarly, hand pain is another potential gaming-related injury that plays a role in esports health; this applies to gamers on all platforms, including PC, console (e.g., Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, etc.), and mobile gaming.
I have experienced all four of these health issues – eye fatigue, back pain, wrist pain, and hand pain – and I would not consider myself a high level video gamer. When I was 12, I used to come home from school and hop on my Xbox. I usually played for around 3 to 4 hours. By the time I was done, my eyes would hurt so bad that I would have to go to sleep at 8pm, instead of staying up later. I also had a lot of back pain. I never bought a gaming chair (which may not have helped anyway if I was in a static position for too long). I always just sat in a normal folding chair. Every once in a while, I would put a pillow there for back support…I should have gotten up and taken more breaks so my back would not have hurt so much! Ultimately, this affected the way I participated in sports. I was made aware of these unhealthy habits and changed the amount of time I spent playing video games. I now play basketball at Slippery Rock University and limit my amount of gaming to one hour a day!
There are ways to combat these injury issues. The most important step is to cut back on the amount of time you are gaming. If you still want to play for extended periods, maybe take a few 10 to 15-minute breaks to get up and walk around every hour, while also giving your eyes a rest. I find myself getting up to make some lunch or talking to my family members helps. Your health is much more important than a game!
Note: Hallie Raabe is a sophomore Sport Management major from Butler, Pennsylvania at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. She is a student in Dr. Seth Jenny’s Introduction to Esports course.
DiFrancisco-Donoghue J, Balentine J, Schmidt G, et al. (2019). Managing the health of the eSport athlete: An integrated health management model. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 5, e000467. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000467
Jenny, S., Manning, R. D., Keiper, M. C., & Olrich, T. W. (2017). Virtual(ly) Athletes: Where Esports Fit within the Definition of “Sport”. Quest, 69(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.2016.1144517
Lam, W., Chen, B., Liu, R., Cheung, J., & Wong, D. (2022). Spine posture, mobility, and stability of top mobile esports athletes: A case series. Biology, 11(5), 737. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11050737
This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Hallie Raabe, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com
Pair this post with the following:
The Line Between Esports and Gaming Addiction by Michelina Ponziani
The Relation Between Esports/Gaming and Increased Sleep Disturbances by Danessa Allison
Teacher and Stress Reliever: From Sonic to Valorant by Joshua Peters
The Dangers of Energy Drink Sponsorship in Esports by Christian Durban