It is now well known: it is not enough to sit in front of a videogame and to play long hours every day to become and remain excellent gamers.
In addition to the daily targeted esport-specific training, players should build their health and career on three other pillars:
Motor and Aerobic exercise
Vision and Cognitive training
Healthy lifestyle adoption.
First, muscle strength, endurance and flexibility are crucial. For example, strengthening the muscles of the neck and shoulders helps to better develop fine-motor skills of the wrist and hand.
Mobility and strengthening exercises help to prevent and cure carpal tunnel syndrome, one of the most feared injuries by gamers.
Aerobic training is useful to get fit and build endurance, that will help to stay focused during long competitions.
Not only, prevention is crucial for gamers. In order to reduce injury risk, the body must be prepared to tolerate a high volume and frequency of specific movements repeated over a long period of time.
In fact, pain, impairments and temporary disability coming from injuries reduce performances, could cause losing a game or a competition and, finally, could have a negative impact on the career of an esport athlete.
Secondly, vision and cognitive capabilities are crucial for any gamer, thus they should be properly assessed by a physician and thoroughly trained.
A general training, not game – specific, but designed to develop re-adaptable skills such as eye-hand coordination, multitasking, short reaction times will drive a positive impact for every player.
Finally, despite the growing recommendations on the topic, most gamers still are not physically active enough. A study published by the Center for Sports Medicine of the New York Institute of Technology reported that almost half of esport players do not take part in any type of physical activity.
The predominant activity of the gamer is sitting, and prolonged training and competition sessions could cause an overload on the joint and muscle structures of the spine and upper limbs. Many injuries in eSports are comparable to those seen in office jobs, with the addition of many highly specific fine motor actions.
To avoid injuries, every esport athlete must receive adequate and personalized advice on the optimal ergonomics of their equipment.
In addition, it will be essential to incorporate movement as a daily routine to take breaks during long sitting periods, to adopt balanced nutrition, and finally to have an appropriate sleep hygiene.
A specialized teamwork approach is the answer to optimize esport players health and performances.
Coach and athletes should be informed about minimal health guidelines to recognize the signs of common overuse injuries and psychological issues, in order to promptly refer to health professionals. The communication between the athlete, the coach and the health team should be open and direct.
The ultimate goal is for each player to learn and consciously follow a healthy lifestyle and to be trained with advanced specific strategies in order to maximize his or her performances and minimize the chance of injuries.
Marco Gastaldo, MD
Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Physician
Isokinetic Medical Group – Isokinetic Torino