Have you ever thought about ergonomic gaming? Or do you mostly tell your kids to turn the computer off because you want them to do something ‘productive?’
All those hours slouched in front of the screen making repetitive movements can have lasting consequences, albeit different ones than you might be thinking.
Ergonomic Gaming: Are Your Kids Playing Safe?
Next time you ask your son or daughter to turn off Fortnite, take a look at their posture – chances are it’s not going to be very good – and listen to how many times that mouse clicks per second.
Now, before we get into posture, one of the healthiest things gamers can do is take regular movement breaks. Get up and move around, even do some stretches between games, or at least once an hour. Our warm up stretching guide is perfect for a quick break.
Movement helps your circulation, in turn improving reaction time. It’s simple; when the body is less stressed and more comfortable – the goal of ergonomic gaming – you’ll perform better. Posture plays a huge role in this.
There are two classic gaming positions: slouched back into the couch or hunched forward on the edge of a chair – neither is good. In this article, we’re going to focus on the latter, which is favoured by PC gamers. But, we’ll discuss console gaming and sitting on couches next week.
The first thing to look at is your chair. A good chair’s backrest will provide lumbar support, following the natural curve of your back. Keep an upright posture – resist the urge to lean in and round your shoulders forward.
It’s best to use chairs with headrests, keeping the neck and shoulders relaxed in a neutral posture. If you’re thinking about buying a chair for gaming, check out these tips before you decide.
Ergonomic Gaming Posture
The seat pan needs to be at knee level with the feet resting comfortably on the ground. Then, set the armrests to keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
In short, a good chair supports all parts of the body. Except the feet, of course, which should be on a footrest if they don’t sit comfortably on the floor.
Use mouse and keyboard pads with cushioning under the wrist. This keeps the wrist out of extension (angled up toward the ceiling). Bent wrists put more strain on the hand and fingers, meaning you’ll fatigue faster and increase your chance of developing a repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The size of the mouse is also important, especially if children are using it. Using a device that’s the wrong size day in and day out puts extra strain on the hands, fingers, and wrists. Some researchers are now calling for three to four different mouse sizes to accommodate different heights and body types.
Place the keyboard and mouse so as to keep the wrists in neutral position. This isn’t only about height, but also distance from the body. Both devices should be in the primary reach zone. This is the area at your computer that you can touch, use, and reach without moving, leaning forward, stretching your arm, or leaving neutral posture.
Ensure your computer monitor is roughly an arm’s length away and that the centre of the screen is around eye level, making it easy to see all corners of the screen without twisting the neck.
Talk to Your Kids about Ergonomic Gaming
When you talk to your kids about ergonomic gaming, they might tell you they feel fine and don’t need to change anything (especially if they are teenagers). They’re probably right. You can game for years before starting to feel symptoms. But, at that point, some damage has already been done.
Recently, eSports pros have started suffering career-ending injuries due to poor posture or repetitive movements.
If your kids want to get into video games, talk to them about ergonomic gaming – it will payoff in the long run. And if different members of your family use the same computer and chair, make sure they know to adjust them to the right heights.
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