How can physiotherapy help esports players? Experts weigh in

Esport is growing at a fast pace worldwide and esports players, just like any other athletes in the traditional sports, are susceptible to overuse injuries.

Given the nature of the sport, the most common complaints in esports range from eye fatigue to neck-ache to back pain. Taking various aspects of esports injuries and cure through physiotherapy into account, Rotaract Club of Government college of Physiotherapy (RCGCP) hosted Game-O pedia webinar in association with Esports Federation Of India.  The panel discussion was moderated by RCGCP vice president  N. Shaguftha Firdouse  with panelist Dr Raul Ramirez,  Dr. Caitlin McGee .

As the discussion started, Mcgee and Ramirez shared their views on how the need for physiotherapy has emerged in an esports tournament.

According to McGee there has been a real shift in the mentality of players and of teams recognising that physical therapists aren’t just treating injuries after they happen (or even just preventing injuries before they happen), but also leading to improved performances of the players akin to the way it helps sports athletes.

Sharing her perspective on the benefits of physiotherapy, Ramirez said: “We can see somebody before anything starts hurting, you know, whenever somebody starts having an injury, we can start preventing those things ahead of time. Even when they have an injury like when they are having some aches. Or post that, how they can continue managing their health or their overall game. So yeah, there’s a lot that we can do in gaming and it’s not just one specific thing, but we can really treat the whole spectrum of being so I think we have a bit pretty big role in Esports athletes.”

 

Doctors discussed how posture correction is important while playing games that include PC games, console games as well as mobile games. They shared a posture can make or break your game. Wrong postures may bring long-term injury to your back, neck and so one.

A quick stretching or support of your back or back extension might help but it is very crucial to go through complete procedure of muscle relaxation. Ramirez shared a few demonstrations of muscle stretching and relaxation methods which could help players in reducing stress before gaming as well as could save themselves from injury beforehand.

“So when it comes to ergonomics and posture; any setup should do organically allow you to sit in a comfortable neutral posture. More importantly, in one posture where you can sit and make movements. So your best posture is the next posture that allows you to shift and change positions as you go,” she added. 

The doctor further explained that a neutral posture allows you to maintain an optimal resting length-tension relationship of your muscles. And that doesn’t put undue stress on any particular region.

“So for example, when we talk about gaming on a PC, you’re resting your hand one hand on the keyboard one hand on the mouse, easily a common area of strain is on the backside of the hand. But, if we correct them to a more neutral posture, they have more room to move off to the side. There’s less compression going on out here,” she said while demonstrating the importance of posture.

She continued, “So really that focus on neutral in terms of side-to-side movement; neutral in terms of up and down movement, the hands and then in order to maintain that good kind of stable base, you’ve got the mobile extremities moving from you to want to focus on everything from feet planted on the floor, but planted in the chair backrest against your backrest to arm supported by an armrest that to be good”

Esports players are players of the younger population and they’re not really thinking about the health and well-being of their bodies.

“Unfortunately, right so but then again is that really they’re not really thinking about it that because that’s not what really interests them. What they’re really interested in is gaming 5 hours 8 hours a day. So I think as a physiotherapist we have to be aware of exactly what they love to do what we know how that how we can help them, ” he said .

Building upon the same notion, he shared that we have to make sure that we’re not overloading them with information. So if a player has issues that they’re not getting enough exercise their nutritionists terrible and they’re getting poor sleep if I try and fix all of those things at once maybe one of them will stick the rest going right out the window and they’re probably going to get frustrated at their lack of progress. So the first thing that the general health care manager routine looks like is really actually getting specific to what’s the first thing I want to prioritise here. “There’s also a good degree of skepticism in the esports community about kind of what is the role and what the value of these healthy behaviors’ is, but the really nice thing about this community is that, when they see the evidence when they see the value, they’re more likely to buy in further. So if you start with one thing that kind of has a very quick to see results and they’re more likely to stick with the harder stuff in the long term,” she added.

Ramirez further explained that a warm-up routine might help players to focus in-play games. He adds, “So activating the muscles that are going to be used during gaming so and I’ll just show you a few of them right here. So the first one that I start with is just basically gripping if you have a stress ball or something. Then I do a towel roll, but the first one is a gripping stress ball. The muscles activated because you’re going to be gripping on the mouse right and do it on the other hand as well. The second one that I like to do is just twist the wrist rotations right wrist circles in both directions and get those tendons gliding couples activated muscles and the wrist both flexion-extension and ulnar and radial deviation. And then another thing I like to do is shoulder roll. So really activating the scapular protractor retractors and as well as opening your chest these are a general warm-up routine an esports player should follow daily and before any tournament.”

Mcgee also highlighted the fact that people are having troublesome time online therefore, “toughness and your ability to manage your emotions is really important. So yes, I think meditation, yoga and breathing exercises are important parts of that holistic package of helping players regulate their emotional state and then also regulating the kind of physical symptoms of stress because we know that if you can consciously slow down your breathing.. deep in your breathing, slow down your heart rate, your anxiety also decreases, and that makes you feel better.”

She further stated, “It also makes your aim better but when you’re stress and you know, your heart rate is shooting up your blood pressure is shooting up. Your aim is worse. Your precision is worse and you are distracted. You make worse decisions. So incorporating whatever form of meditation works best for players and it is a really good way to go and sometimes that meditation involves the very traditional sitting still and focusing on breathing for other players a moving meditation works better.”

Lastly both the doctors suggested that health is wealth and we all should listen to our bodies first and then anything else to avoid long-term injuries.