There are several questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re a legitimate gamer.
A simple one is, “Do you lose track of time?” Most serious gamers are surprised when they look at their clock after a gaming session and see that it’s several hours later. You could also ask yourself if you miss meals (likely, if you lose track of time), or if you get really angry/excited about a few specific games.
Or you could also ask yourself if your wrists and hands sometimes hurt.
That Ergonomics Thing
Unfortunately, this is a problem lots of gamers have to deal with.
If your hands aren’t resting at the proper angle to your elbows, and your elbows to your body, your muscles get strained and sore. And to make matters worse, if you lose track of time and sit at your computer gaming for hours on end, you’re far more likely to develop serious issues like carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive stress injuries.
And once you injure your wrists or hands, that means no more gaming until it’s healed.
The Stretches & Exercises to Fix This
Fortunately, you can avoid injuries (and therefore long stints of time without your awesome games) with a few simple exercises and stretches.
1. Grab a rubber band and stick your fingers in its loop. Ball up your hand tightly for a few seconds before opening it back up and spreading your fingers as far apart as possible. This should stretch the rubber band out and give your fingers a good exercise. Doing this several times a week will actually strengthen your finger muscles!
2. Bend your fingers at the middle knuckles. Hold for 5-10 seconds to work out soreness in those joints.
3. Make a “thumbs up” shape with your hand. Now make 5 big circles with your thumb, in both directions. Do the same thing on your other hand.
4. Stick one of your arms out, with your elbow straight. With your other hand, grasp the hand on the straight arm and slowly bend it downward until you feel a stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat with your other arm and hand.
5. Do the opposite of the previous exercise. Instead of bending each hand down, slowly bend them straight up as far as you can. Hold for 5-10 seconds on each hand.
6. Don’t forget the good, old full-arm stretch. Lace your fingers together, palms open and facing inward, and stretch your arms out as far as possible (your wrists should be at 90-degree angles). Now flip your hands so the palms are facing out, and stretch again.
Do these movements every time you start to feel stiff or sore, no less than once every hour.
If you need a few more exercises to keep you limber and happy during gaming, the University of Ontario’s IT department has a nifty handout about more computer-user exercises you can do, complete with pictures and diagrams.
By sticking in a few of these exercises and stretches between game sessions or missions, you’re far less likely to end up with any wrist, arm, or arm problems later on. Now you just need to work on that forgetting to eat thing…