How do I make sure I'm sitting correctly whilst gaming?
With the world going into lockdown over the coming weeks the number of hours spent at home is going to rise exponentially. What does this mean? Well, firstly an increase in the number of hours spent sitting down working at a computer. Secondly – and more importantly, with social distancing being promoted, the time individuals spend gaming is going to soar!
With this increase in the number of hours spent gaming comes a rise in extended periods of time spent sitting down. Sedentary behaviour coupled with poor sitting positions puts people, and especially gamers, at a higher risk of overuse injuries – exacerbating the high number already commonly reported within the community.
In a recent paper (1) published in the British Medical Journal, it was shown that some of the most common overuse injuries amongst gamers included:
- Eye pain
- Neck and back pain
- Hand and wrist pain
How do I avoid these issues whilst gaming or working?
The first thing to do is to check your seating position (ergonomics). We are all guilty of trying to get inside the screen whilst we play or work, especially during important games when the pressure is on or when we are trying to read something important. This is perfectly fine for very short periods of time, we are not robots! The most important thing is making sure that for the other 90% of our sitting time we try to recognize how we are sitting and begin to reset our seating position when we notice our posture beginning to slump too far forwards towards the screen.
How do I know if I’m sitting correctly and what's the best position to sit in?
The best position to be in will be largely individual and strongly affected by your anthropometric makeup (body measurements). However, here is a checklist from the floor up based on scientific research for both PC and Controller players (2)!
- Ensure your feet are flat on the floor. If your toes are the only part of your feet touching the floor your chair is too high.
- Your knees should be bent at 90°.
- There should be a small gap between the edge of the chair and the back of the knee.
- Your elbows are supported at roughly 90° in line with the shoulders which should be relaxed. If your armrest is too high you’ll find that your shoulders will begin to rise towards your ears.
- Contrary to popular belief sitting at 90° is NOT a good idea! In this position the force imposed upon the disks in your lumbar spine is at its highest. You want to have a slight recline between 95° and 110°. Don’t go too far back as your neck will start to extend forward in order to compensate!
- Ensure that your back is fully supported not just at the middle/top. Lumbar (lower back) support is essential.
- Your screen should be an arm’s length away and in the middle of your eye line, NOT at the end of your nose!
- Position your mouse in line with your shoulder and ensure that it is on the SAME surface as your keyboard.
- Your wrists need to be straight, in line with your shoulder and FLAT on the desk. If they are deviated (twisted) in or out this can cause wrist issues.
- Apart from the mouse and keyboard tips, all of the above apply to console players. For console players, your controller should be in a position in front of you that doesn’t change any of the factors above. Make sure all of your limbs are supported correctly!
Is there any other tips for working and gaming during this quarantine period?
Yes there is.
- Take frequent breaks to reset. Get up and move around!
- Reset and assess your seating position after every game or every 30 minutes.
- Exercise daily. Even if you can’t go somewhere safe and relatively quiet for a walk or run you can do a short bodyweight home workout.
- Open a window and let some fresh air in.
We hope you enjoyed the article and found it useful! Let us know what you would like to see more of and in the meantime if you are an avid gamer and would like to be involved in our beta athlete monitoring system please get in touch. Now, more than ever, is the perfect time to start taking care of your health.
- DiFrancisco-Donoghue, J., Balentine, J., Schmidt, G. and Zwibel, H., 2019. Managing the health of the eSport athlete: an integrated health management model. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 5(1), p.e000467.
- Sonne, M., Villalta, D.L. and Andrews, D.M., 2012. Development and evaluation of an office ergonomic risk checklist: ROSA–Rapid office strain assessment. Applied ergonomics, 43(1), pp.98-108.