Tennis Elbow – A Gaming Injury?
Do you know that you can get tennis elbow from playing video games? I’m not even talking about playing your motion sensor enabled games like those VR games. Though these new “full body experience” games are the causes of most video gaming injuries, they’re not wholly responsible for them. You can still get injured just from using your mouse and keyboard.
These injuries are under an umbrella called repetitive strain injury. This means that the injury is caused by overuse. Tennis elbow is also considered a repetitive strain injury. Because this is an overuse problem, doing things like clicking your mouse too often can induce this injury. Now, you may think that I’m lying, but this is a problem that we see becoming more prevalent in our increasingly sedentary society. We also see more youths who are into gaming come in with this issues.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Playing tennis is not a prerequisite to getting tennis elbow. Strictly speaking, tennis elbow is an inflammation at a tendon attaching at the elbow. This muscle’s action is to extend the wrist and fingers. When you do repetitive activities involving extending your wrist and fingers such as using the ‘Switch Joy-Con’ or using your mouse, you place stress on this tendon. Over a long time, the tendon gets inflamed and the result is a pain that is similar to tennis elbow.
The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually. In most cases, the pain begins as mild and slowly worsens over weeks and months.
Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow
- Weak grip strength
The symptoms are often worsened with forearm activity, such as holding a controller, lifting a cup, or performing and extension with your wrist or fingers. Your dominant arm is most often affected; however both arms can be affected.
Preventing Tennis Elbow
Here are 5 tips to prevent tennis elbow caused by gaming:
- Take regular breaks – As with any other overuse injuries, it is important to keep your muscles from being overworked. Taking a break from playing your games every 30-45 minutes will go a long way to preventing you from getting tennis elbow from gaming.
- Strengthen your muscles – Increasing muscle strength can help prevent tennis elbow from occurring in the first place or recurring in the future. Try squeezing a tennis ball 25 times, or make a fist with your hand and then bend your wrist forward and back using only your hand.
- Make sure your mouse is close by and easy to use – If it’s too high or too far away, you’ll be forced to repeatedly overextend your forearm to use it, increasing your risk of injury. Position your mouse at your side with your arm close to your body. Maintain a straight line between your hand and your forearm. Also, make sure the mouse fits your hand. If it’s too small, your finger, hand and wrist muscles will have to remain in a tense position to use it. Make sure that you hands and fingers are as relaxed as possible.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed – Don’t let your shoulders hunch up around your ears while you’re working. Remind yourself to relax. Muscle tension in the shoulders can radiate down into the arms.
- Maintain a 90-degree angle – While working at your computer, your forearms should form a 90-degree angle with your upper arm. If you find your forearms are too low or (worse) too high, adjust your chair and keyboard to fix it. We have written an article about the best sitting position in front of a computer. You may refer to it here.
As a fellow gamer, I hope that this information is useful to you! If you have any questions, drop me a line. Below is a video of a quick stretch for your forearm muscles. Do check out our YouTube channel for more exercises like these.https://youtu.be/UNvWAbmLbrg