Introduction: Does Posture Matter?
This article will look at the various elements that make up comfort while sitting at a desk for extended periods of time, especially relating to gaming and computer activities.
Gamers are particularly prone to experiencing problems associated with bad posture, which is not surprising given the number of hours they put in as practice.
With more colleges and universities creating space for competitive eSports teams, it’s becoming an increasingly recognized sport, although not officially according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) which means there are no regulations regarding injured players and no safeguarding measures in place to protect these eSport gamers’ posture and health.
In fact, the market tracking company NewZoo predicted that by 2021, eSports would have a global audience of 1.1 billion with professional eSport players earning well over $1.5 billion in sponsorship deals and competition prize money, so as an industry it’s burting with potential.
Just last year the video gaming industry’s net value rose by 9.3% compared to 2019, with experts estimating that it was worth $159.3 Billion in 2020 and predicting a further increase by 2023 that will see the video gaming industry exceed it’s current value to hit $200 Billion.
It’s easy to see why so many gamers are turning to eSports as a career, but at what cost? Looking at a subject pool of 65 college eSport gamers, the British Journal of Medicine conducted a study that saw how players can train for an average of 5-10 hours a day.
It’s safe to say that posture does, therefore, matter, as this can do a lot to either mitigate or agitate the aches and pains of sitting at your computer for hours of gaming.
From the ways in which good posture can benefit you to the consequences poor posture can cause, and tips on how to improve yours, we’ve created the ultimate guide to gaming comfort so you can game, free from pain.
We cover everything that eSport gamers need to know about proper posture and desk ergonomics to protect their health and prevent injury. So, sit up straight, settle in, and let’s get into it.
What Problems Can Incorrect Posture Cause?
- Pinched nerves – this can cause consistent pain or it could result in pins and needles running up and down your limbs. Numbness is another symptom of these conditions, which can be persistent or it can come and go periodically.
- Sciatica (Piriformis Syndrome) – Sciatica is the technical term for pain patterns that occur after the piriformis hip muscle irritates the sciatic nerve, often where the back of your thighs or legs rest against your seat and cut off circulation. It’s usually the result of prolonged sitting, but it can be significantly worsened by incorrect posture.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Arguably 1 of the most well-known computer gaming-related problems, poor body posture can result in carpal tunnel where the median nerve experiences pain as a result of excess pressure or inflammation.
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – More commonly found in console gamers due to the way the controller is held, this is when the ulnar nerve (located in the funny bone area) becomes irritated or inflamed. However, PC gamers are still at risk of this issue.
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – Any impingement on the nerves somewhere in the middle of your clavicle (collar bone) and your ribs between the joints of your neck and shoulder is referred to as thoracic outlet syndrome. Slouching or leaning forward too far will only exacerbate this problem for gamers.
Poor posture doesn’t just harm your health – it can also harm your career. What athlete wants to be knocked out of the competition before it even heats up due to health issues? Just like any other sport, gaming can come with its own unique set of injuries that you’ll need to watch out for.
There are both short-term and long-term problems that incorrect posture can cause, with some doctors now arguing that eSport players should receive the same level of treatment as other college athletes due to the health issues they’re at risk of experiencing.
While you’re covering serious ground in your game to climb the leaderboard, in reality, you’re sitting at your desk for prolonged periods of time.
The term ‘Exercise Deficit’ describes low levels of physical activity that fall below the recommended amount for public health, which is anything less than 60 minutes per day.
Failing to achieve this can cause problems in itself, but combined with poor posture, your health can be negatively affected in a number of ways.
As a mostly sedentary sport, the injuries that gamers face are not going to be the same concerns that a traditional athlete would have regarding their training.
Instead, the risks are more closely related to the workplace injuries that are typically experienced by office staff or anyone else who uses a computer for work and sits at a desk for a large portion of the day.
Dr. Hallie Zwibel, the author of a study on ‘Managing the Health of the eSport Athlete: An Integrated Health Management Model’ by the British Journal of Medicine, warns that it’s not just varsity-level eSport gamers that need to be concerned about the consequences of poor posture, but behind eye fatigue, some of the most common ailments reported amongst this demographic are back, neck, wrist, and hand pain, which are all posture-related problems.
In fact, anyone who games for extended periods of time is at risk of the problems that incorrect posture can cause, so it’s not just professional players who suffer.
A recent Pew Research study showed that more than 40% of adults in America occasionally play video games, compared to a whopping 75% of teenage girls and 84% amongst teenage boys.
From entry-level gamers to those with an aspiring eSport career, here are some of the health issues you could come up against if you don’t bother to correct your posture.
Back pain is an ailment that is often reported in a number of sports, but for professional eSport gamers, it’s 1 of the most common problems that can be caused by poor posture.
Living with pain is a nightmare at the best of times, but it’s particularly frustrating when you’re in the middle of a game and you’re trying to focus on the action, as it becomes harder to concentrate when you’re constantly having to shift your position to get comfortable.
There are many different ways in which it can present itself which can make it tricky to pinpoint the exact postural cause and, to further complicate things, symptoms can overlap.
Muscle hypertonicity and trigger points are just 2 ways this can manifest in the body.
The former refers to an increased resting tone where the muscle contracts until it feels quite tight or tense where you touch the skin, as opposed to when it’s normal and feels more relaxed and looser to the touch.
This is different from a spasm, however, which is when a complete muscle contraction occurs unconsciously and causes medium-severe pain.
Trigger points, on the other hand, are essentially a technical way of describing the ‘knots’ you’ll feel in your muscles after hours of practice when you’ll have been sitting in a position that’s not necessarily good for your posture.
The term came about because of the localized pain felt somewhere else in the body when pressure is applied to the trigger point, and this particular issue shows up frequently for professional eSport gamers.
Musculoskeletal complaints are not uncommon among gamers either, but sprain injuries are pretty rare. Trauma can cause the ligaments or your lumbar spine’s joint capsules to be injured, but you’d need to be gaming in a pretty inappropriate position to achieve this.
You won’t often see bony injuries either, as fractures and contusions are only really caused if you experience a blunt trauma. Less unlikely is chronic bony change, albeit only slightly, and the bone spurs that can potentially develop as a result of this.
This is typically a reaction to inflammation of the joints, but it’s still not hugely common and can be countered with regular movement which will help to prevent this ailment from developing in the first place.
The last thing we’ll touch on is joint fixation (or joint restriction), which is 1 of the most common problems that gamers with poor posture face, and therefore should be a highly regarded concern for all aspiring eSport gamers.
The joint capsule can start spasming or becomes hypertonic, and not only does this result in severe pain, but it also limits your movement and motion, which will be a disadvantage when you’re trying to control the mouse during competitions.
The vicious cycle then continues, as this worsens the joint fixation. These issues don’t just apply to your lower back though, as you can experience any one of these problems in your neck, shoulders, and hips.
You can see how it’s therefore really important to avoid sitting with poor posture for extended gaming sessions without trying to improve it, else you could put a stop to your eSports career before it even begins.
Overuse Imbalance Ailments
Some health experts are claiming that we’re seeing an epidemic of overuse injuries in today’s society, as repeated use of smartphone devices and tablets and the growing interest in gaming has led to a rise in the number of people with over strained muscles.
ESport gamers are highly susceptible to overuse injuries such as tendinitis due to the repetitiveness of their actions, their posture, and the sheer length of time they spend practicing playing video games in an unnatural seated position.
Here are some of the overuse imbalance ailments that can be caused by incorrect posture.
Your forearm’s extensor tendons are attached at the elbow on the same side as your thumb, and these control your wrist and finger movements. This, in turn, controls your ability to clench and release your fist and can hinder your in-game response times.
Overuse and imbalance can disturb the orientation of the tendons, which is known as tendinopathy, although don’t confuse this with tendinitis as they’re different conditions.
Be sure to rest your wrist fully before jumping back into the competition scene to allow for a full recovery, or you could end up re-injuring yourself, taking you out of competitive eSport gaming for good.
Often experienced by those who prefer to play with their thumbstick in console gaming but less common amongst PC gamers, this is a problem that causes the thumb to pull away from the hand and palm due to the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles.
It’s technically known as tenosynovitis and can result in a hardened tendon sheath that requires surgery.
Even after you recover, if you develop this problem there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get back to your full, 100% former self, and the pulling effect it has on your thumb can interfere with your performance throughout your gaming career.
Similar to mouse elbow, mouse shoulder is when imbalance causes tendinopathy and disrupts the tendon fiber orientation.
It can develop in the proximal (central) tendon that’s attached to the biceps (brachii) muscle which affects elbow and shoulder flexion, and it’s common amongst gamers and mouse users.
It’s quite painful or achey to experience which can mean a professional gamer is unable to relax, putting more strain on the shoulder and creating a vicious cycle that worsens the problem to the point of serious injury.
Again more often seen in console gamers, medial epicondylitis affects the wrist and fingers as it develops in the flexor tendons of the forearm and attaches to the elbow on the same side as your pinky finger.
Of course, being able to control your wrists and fingers is a vital part of gaming so this could have a negative impact on any aspiring eSport career.
Nerve Impingement Syndromes
Unfortunately, pain from poor gaming posture isn’t limited to the neck, back, and shoulders; sitting in an awkward position with your bones and muscles out of alignment for too long can actually cause pain all over the body and puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on your nerves.
Here are some of the nerve impingement syndromes that eSport gamers are prone to experience due to bad posture.
Back and neck pain, as we’ve already explained, is high on the list of potential consequences for eSport gamers with poor posture.
There are plenty of other posture related problems that you can try to (and you’ll definitely want to) avoid, including tension headaches, issues with your balance, and in some cases, even some difficulties breathing.
Perhaps more surprising is the problems incorrect posture can have on your bowel movements, as this can actually lead to stress incontinence where you can’t control your bladder fully.
You might even experience a little bit of urine leaking when you laugh or cough, which is hardly ideal when you’re mid-competition.
Meghan Markowski, a physical therapist at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s hospital, notes how sitting in a slouched position can increase the pressure put on your abdominal area, which in turn puts pressure on your bladder and weakens your pelvic floor muscles so they’re less capable of holding up against said pressure.
If you’re gaming on a full stomach, you’re also at risk of triggering an attack of heartburn for the same reasons.
The abdominal pressure from slouching can cause acid reflux which means it pushes the acid found in your stomach back up into your esophagus, and anyone who’s ever experienced this before will know just how much discomfort it can cause which is hugely distracting to the professional gamer.
There’s also deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a less common but concerning condition that can be caused by poor gaming posture and a lack of movement during a longer training session. Without movement, the blood doesn’t circulate as effectively which can cause a clot to form.
This is incredibly dangerous to your health as the embolus (clot) could travel up the vascular system to your heart or lungs, potentially causing a pulmonary embolism and consequently posing a huge health risk.
To give you a general idea of the scale at which some of the effects that poor posture can have, lower-back pain costs Americans approximately $50 billion in health care every year, and as J. N. Katz points out, that’s without including lost wages and decreased productivity, which would easily cause the figure to explode into over $100 billion.
As you can see, there are just as many risks to eSport gamers as there are faced by athletes in other sports, so taking care of your posture should be a high priority.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, as there are plenty of benefits to having good posture that can actually help to give you an edge in the competition.
What Are The Other Benefits of Having a Good Desk Posture?
- Reduced stress levels
- Better gaming performance
- Decreased muscle tension
- Calmer nerves
- Reduced fatigue
- Fewer negative or distracting thoughts
Our parents and teachers weren’t just enjoying the sound of their own voices when they repeatedly told us to “sit up straighter” as children, as much as it might have seemed like it at the time.
Aside from the obvious, which is that it doesn’t cause the problems that having incorrect posture can lead to, having a good posture comes with its own advantages and it can have some incredible benefits for your health, body, mind, and career.
Being able to take a deep breath is a pretty fundamental part of life, especially when you’re a gamer and you need to calm yourself down after just missing out on reaching a new high score or when things are getting tense mid-competition.
Poor posture can make even this basic bodily function much harder, making it harder to focus on the game at hand.
But enough about poor posture and the problems it can cause! It’s now time to focus on the benefits of good posture. When it comes to breathing, sitting up straight can improve airflow to your lungs, as you’re able to open your airway wider and take in up to 30% more oxygen.
So, how does it benefit you as an eSport gamer? You might not necessarily think that it will, after all, it’s not like a traditional sport where breathing impacts your everyday performance… except it kind of is.
You’d be surprised at how much proper breathing techniques can improve your performance and boost your mental and physical health.
Better breathing can also have the following benefits:
You’ll be able to breathe through stressful situations during competitions for a more controlled performance.
If bad posture can cause back pain, it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that good posture can also relieve back pain, which is important to know for professional gamers.
Correct posture provides the proper support for your spine, taking some of the stress off of your bones, joints, ligaments, and connective tissue which leads to more comfortable gaming.
It also means your muscles are working in the way they should, which keeps them looser and stronger than if you let your posture slide.
For the eSport gamers already experiencing back pain, try to maintain a neutral spine and a sense of balance throughout your body to experience some relief during training.
You can undo some of the damage previously caused by incorrect posture, or you can at least prevent your existing ailments from becoming any worse and more painful. For eSport gamers, this could be the difference between retiring in your 20s or having a long-lasting career.
Experiencing pain is never going to put you in a good mood, especially when it’s impeding your ability to do something you love and causing you to underperform.
Gamers who practice good posture will notice an improvement in their mood and overall mental health as you’re naturally mimicking a more positive posture.
Think about it – when someone is feeling sad, anxious, or depressed, you can see it in their posture which is typically slouched over with hunched shoulders and a hanging head.
This is supported by Dr. Chris Zampieri, an NIH physical therapist, who states that “someone with depression may appear more closed in, curved, and tends to look down”.
Someone who is feeling more relaxed and comfortable, however, will naturally stand a little taller and sit up a little straighter, in turn promoting a better mood.
It’s like pretending to smile when you don’t really feel like smiling – the action can help encourage the emotion to follow, so if you sit up straight like you’re ready for the day, you’re more likely to actually feel that way. You’ll need your game face on for competitions, after all.
Enhanced Concentration and Focus
One of the skills that you’ll need to work on if you want to kickstart a career in eSports is your ability to concentrate for extended periods of time. As we mentioned earlier, better breathing leads to omproved airflow, which is 1 of the main things that enhances your focus.
Your brain is able to soak up oxygen that circulates throughout your body much quicker when it’s facilitated by correct posture, so you’ll be able to think sharply and more clearly and it’ll be easier to focus on complicated games that you may otherwise struggle to play well in.
You can also experience higher energy levels due to the additional oxygen and you won’t tire yourself out by wasting your muscle energy on maintaining poor posture, leaving you with more stamina and higher concentration levels as the competition draws to its conclusion.
We’ve talked a bit about how bad posture can put pressure on your abdominal muscles and compress some of your internal organs, so, unsurprisingly, good posture will do the opposite!
You’ll find that your digestive system is much improved, as there’s less pressure being put on your stomach, intestines, and liver promoting a better flow of food and liquid for digestion.
A straight posture limits the amount of distress you’ll cause your digestive system, meaning you’ll reduce the risk of gastrointestinal problems such as constipation or GERD. No more having to wait an hour until after eating dinner to start gaming! Or wait, is that swimming…?
Whatever you do, don’t confuse the two.
You could probably guess that by taking a break from your screen for a while or adjusting your monitor’s brightness levels you’ll experience health benefits, as this is 1 of the leading causes of eye fatigue which is incredibly common amongst eSport gamers.
The strain of looking at the brightly lit gaming visuals on your screen overworks your eye muscles which can lead to headaches, but it’s also your posture that could be causing the pounding in your head.
Dropping your head and allowing your shoulders to sag can cause tension headaches to form, so by straightening yourself up, holding your head high, facing forward, and elongating through your neck can reduce the number of headaches you suffer as well as their duration.
Tips For How to Improve Your Posture
Legs and Feet
Hips and Thighs
- Size – the average hand is 19 cm x 10 cm, but if in doubt choose a mouse that’s slightly larger than your hand size as this will make it easier to grip and more comfortable to hold.
- Weight – you can choose between lighter or heavily weighted mouses and the division will often come down to personal preference, although lightweight tends to be the more popular of the two in eSports as this allows for sharper movements.
- Grip style – there are three main styles of grip, including palm grip, claw grip, or fingertip grip, and there is less skin contact between the mouse and your hand with each option.
- Materials – most gaming mouses will be made of glossy or matte-like plastic, giving you more slip or more grip depending on your preference. Some models will add extra grip on top of this in the form of textures or grooves where your fingers sit.
Considering the amount of time gamers spend in a seated position, it’s important to actively think about how you can improve your posture to avoid the problems we mentioned earlier.
Otherwise, you could end up ruining any chance of a career in eSports and instead join the estimated 1 in 4 adults in the US who have at least 1 day during any 3-month period where they experience some form of back pain.
You’ve just read about how beneficial it is to work on improving your posture in the previous section, so what are you waiting for? If the only reason you haven’t yet is because you’re not sure how or where to, then this section of the article has got you covered.
We’ll walk you through some of the more intense training schedules that eSports players are committing to in order to keep up their physical strength and to reduce the risk of injuries.
We’ll also explore some key tips for achieving better posture when you’re gaming to help you take advantage of all the benefits we’ve already discussed thus far in this article.
Training Schedule for eSport Gamers
A good way to learn how to improve your posture is to look at what the professionals are doing to avoid injuries themselves, and how these gaming athletes take care of their body and health to mitigate the effects of spending hours at their PC during practice or training.
Just like any other athlete, eSport gamers should follow a regular training schedule to maintain a certain level of fitness. This will help improve their performance, posture, health, and overall quality of life in the real world instead of inside the world of one of their games.
Tim Spencer, a gamer and personal trainer, explained how being physically fit is “another way to have an edge” over the competition.
He claims that through exercise and “eating well, you’re going to have more mental clarity”, which improves your performance by enabling lightning-fast response times and the level of focus that eSports gamers need to win.
Exercise also helps to strengthen your body so you can maintain better posture when you’re gaming for long periods of time, and by working the muscles you’ll often be using while you train you’ll be less prone to injuring yourself.
So, how are the professionals doing it?
The typical stereotype for gamers used to be that the majority were still living in their mom’s basement, but the goal of pretty much every aspiring eSport player these days is to get signed to an eSports organization who can then invite them to join an eSport house.
This is essentially a living arrangement between members of a gaming team who are able to practice and train together. You’ll find that these eSport houses are beneficial for far more than just aim and reaction time improvements, however.
The whole house is filled with support staff such as management, analysts, and coaches who are there to help you improve things like your posture, organize your gaming schedules, plan training sessions, and come up with strategies ready for competitions.
Some of the biggest U.S. eSports houses are Cloud9 Gaming House and Envy Gaming House, but this type of shared accommodation and training facilities are cropping up all over the world for eSports teams to take advantage of.
However, some eSport organizations are now moving toward gaming offices or training facilities to provide a more professional space.
Scheduled Exercise Routines
In addition to scheduling breaks or rest periods into your gaming practice so you don’t have to hold your posture’s position for too long (which increases the risk of repetitive strain injury), many eSport players are starting to schedule regular exercise into their routines.
To avoid problems with your wrists, neck, shoulders, or back which can be related to your posture or the intensity of your training, it’s worth strengthening these muscle groups which you can do through targeted exercise as you will be using them the most when gaming.
Periodization is a method that is used to systematically plan a player’s training routine to optimize their results for long-term success, which focuses on a growth equation of:
Stress + Rest = Growth
This drastically lowers the player’s chances of developing injuries due to poor posture or repetitive strain, and it helps them better learn to cope with the intense demands of modern competitive gaming and the toll it can take on your body.
After establishing that hitting the gym can make gamers more successful, many eSport players are looking into having a set up at home so they can easily incorporate daily exercise into their training regimen and break up the time spent in front of their PC screen.
Following the eSport houses model, having a gym at home facilitates players’ needs to keep on top of their training and muscle strengthening so they can be in the best possible shape for competitions.
Some eSport players, like Eli ‘Elk’ Gallagher, have requested that a personal trainer be provided for the team to evaluate effective playing positions and to recommend strengthening and flexibility exercies.
It’s a practice that may become more widely adopted as the focus on athlete posture and health remains a heavily discussed topic at the moment.
Luckily, there are also some personal trainers out there who provide gaming and live workout services, such as Tim Spencer and his wife, Nicole Du Cane, which they shared online via their Twitch livestream in a series called Heroes of Fitness.
Their aim is to help gamers extend the lifespan of their careers. In these videos they complete routines that include hip flexor stretches to alleviate the postural problems caused by sitting for prolonged periods of time and wrist stretches to combat wrist pronation.
Online advice also allows gamers to follow a routine from the comfort of their own home, so they can take it at their own pace which reduces the risk of injury through overexertion.
As much as eSport gamers or aspiring professionals should definitely think about their exercise and training regime in conjunction with their gaming practice, there are also some smaller tweaks and adjustments you can make to your everyday life as a gamer.
Fun fact: Humans are naturally predisposed to favor a squatting position for resting, and sitting in a chair is actually anatomically alien to our bodies!
It doesn’t matter if you have the best ergonomically designed gaming chair in the world; it’s just not how humans were meant to sit. But sit, we do, so it’s worth knowing which body positions will most help with posture.
Starting from the bottom up, it’s a good idea to set your feet on the floor keeping them shoulder-width apart.
It might be tempting to cross your legs or ankles, but this can put your body off-balance which then leads to the overworking or straining of certain muscles, so try to avoid doing it, even unconsciously.
Your feet should be completely flat with your heels on the floor which will allow you to game comfortably.
Keep your thighs flat to your chair and hold your knees bent at around a 90-degree angle. Your feet should also be directly in line with your hips, so no tucking them behind your knees as this will lead to your weight pulling you forward.
By keeping your hips and knees aligned you’ll naturally straighten your back which will improve your overall posture and encourage good blood circulation throughout your gaming session.
Similarly, your forearms should also be parallel with the floor and you should keep your elbows tucked in by your sides because this will make it easier to keep your shoulders back while you straighten up your posture.
We know you’re not a robot and it would be difficult for someone to maintain this posture consistently in the throes of an intense competition or toward the end of a long training session, but even if you find yourself relaxing this position and starting to slouch again after 10 to 15 minutes, that’s okay!
It’s all about realizing when your posture has slipped and then correcting it, and over time this will naturally become more of an automatic habit.
If you’re ever in doubt, just remind yourself of the many benefits it will have on your health and mindset.
According to J Hartvigsen, author of ‘Low Back Pain Series: What Low Back Pain Is and Why We Need to Pay Attention’, the majority of people dealing with back pain as a result of poor posture will recover.
However, Hartvigsen also tells us that it’s not uncommon for injuries to reoccur and for a small percentage of gamers, this could develop into chronic or disabling pain that would end their career.
Julia Bright is just 1 example of a gamer who suffered from a bad case of what was originally thought to be tendinitis in her wrists, but turned out to be a torn ligament and a displaced tendon.
She was training for her eSports team when she noticed a swollen, walnut shaped lump at the point when her arm stopped and her hand started after just 2 months of intense training, during which time she had forgotten to perform the recommended wrist exercises.
After an operation and 6 weeks of wearing a brace, Bright’s wrist had still only recovered by around 80% and she is now limited to playing games for short, 40-minute sessions to avoid the risk of re-injuring herself and having to live with constant wrist pain, therefore cutting her career short.
The changes will be a conscious effort at first, so determination and dedication will be two of the key motivators that will help you maintain your new and improved posture. It’s not down to you alone, however, and there are other factors that can influence your body position.
They say only a bad sportsman blames their tools, but even in professional-level competitive gaming, your equipment and set up could give you the edge over your opponents.
When it comes to equipment, there are two key ways in which it can help you with your posture. This comes down to the type of equipment you’re using and how it’s positioned.
The onus is on you to actively be thinking about and working to improve your posture, but having an ergonomic gaming setup can really help you with this.
A great tip is to organize your equipment strategically so that everything is placed in the optimal position for improved posture, as this will inform how you position yourself in relation to the equipment and therefore how you hold yourself while you’re gaming.
There’s multiple elements to a complete gaming setup, so we’ll go through some of the most important ones and suggest the best options and positioning.
To save needing to pull your chair in close and squint at the screen, choosing a monitor that delivers high-quality graphics allows you to beat the opposition in high definition, helping you improve your score as well as your posture.
A good monitor also has its other uses, like allowing you to watch your favorite Twitch stream without seeing an overly pixelated image.
Due to the huge rise in the interest we’ve seen people take in eSports in recent years, this is one example of a platform which swiftly rose through the ranks to become the fourth largest site in the U.S. for internet traffic.
According to Variety, YouTube were hoping to purchase Twitch to do to the tune of $1 billion, but it was acquired by Amazon in 2014 for a little under this figure (a cool $970 million, to be exact), proving just how many big companies saw the potential in the future of gaming and eSports entertainment.
When you’re sitting on the other side of the screen, your monitor should be positioned at an appropriate height for your neck which is somewhere in line with your face, as this allows you to maintain a straight back for the duration of time that you’re staring at the computer.
You want to avoid bending or craning your neck to see the monitor so adjust the position accordingly if you find that this is the case. Generally, aim to have the top ⅓ or so of your monitor at the same height as your eye level.
If the monitor is too close to your face, say a distance of 20-inches or less, it might not give you square eyes like you were once warned, but it can still result in neck pain as well as eye strain and fatigue. Plus, you’ll likely end up holding your head at an uncomfortable angle.
Gaming chairs are designed with gamers in mind so they’re the perfect seating choice for professional eSport players, but there is a huge market of products to choose from.
Finding a comfortable gaming chair that’s designed specifically to support you will mean you’re generally more likely to sit in a position that’s better for your posture.
Here at WePC, we can personally vouch for this as many of us spend long hours sitting at our desk and testing products.
Secretlab is a brand that we’ve had only positive reviews for, as their gaming chairs provide comfort and support in equal measures which are the fundamentals of good posture. They have products to cater to every gamer’s needs, whatever your style.
Whichever brand you choose to patronage in the end, gaming charis often provide dedicated support for your neck, back, and shoulders. The best chairs will provide all-round support, including for your lower and upper back, shoulders, head, neck, arms, and hips.
While you work on beating your high score, the muscle groups in these areas all work together to hold a good posture, so ensuring they’re well supported is 1 of the best things you can do to improve yours.
We discuss armrests and back rests in more detail on their own a little further on down this list, but there are some other key gaming chair features.
Adjustable Headrest Support
You’ll achieve better posture by leaning your head against the cushioned rest while you’re gaming as this forces you to hold your head up and look forward, which naturally straightens your back and draws in your shoulders.
Lumbar support is a clearly established requirement for eSport gamers who wish to avoid posture-related problems in their career, so choosing a chair with an adjustable headrest is a must.
This way, you can mold the chair to suit your specific, individual needs so it provides the perfect amount of support.
It’s recommended that you adjust the seat of your gaming chair to recline by about 90 to 120 degrees (unless your chair is not reclinable), as this will stop you from accidentally slouching which can happen when you lean forward away from the chair.
Your back will thank you for making this change as it reduces the amount of strain and pressure that gets placed on the discs in your back which can hurt your posture over time and can lead to injuries that prevent you from competing.
Size and Build
You also need to consider the height of the chair and seat dimensions so you can sit comfortably in the chair. Make sure that it is the correct height for your body so your feet can rest on the floor as is recommended for better posture.
These days, gaming chairs do a much better job at catering to gamers of all sizes. It’s about time too, as larger players shouldn’t be at a disadvantage because they’re having to compete in a chair that’s too small or cramped.
You’ll find chairs designed specifically to suit a bigger frame, so keep this in mind when shopping around, especially if you’re ordering online as you won’t be able to test the product before you buy.
Even the most professional player can’t be blamed for wanting their gaming equipment to look good. While it might not have the biggest outcome on your posture or your eSport career, it’s still important to look for a gaming chair that suits your aesthetic preferences.
There’s admittedly a common theme in terms of design, but there are a range of styles and materials available with some brands offering special edition gaming chairs. For example, why not play your own game of thrones with the GoT special edition chair from Secretlab?
For more inspiration, check out our recommendations for the best gaming chairs of 2020 and 2021 so you can see the latest in what the market has to offer.
Don’t totally disregard ergonomics, either. For some people, an office chair may be a more suitable choice if you’re not a fan of today’s tall-backed chairs with their showy aesthetics.
Also keep in mind that the chair can’t do all the work for you, so if you’re spending all this money on the best gaming equipment, you should invest the same amount of effort into improving your posture.
When it comes to choosing your keyboard and mouse equipment, the devil really is in the design. Not only can this impact posture, but it can also heavily impact your gaming ability and your overall performance.
Wearing a wrist brace because of an injury, for example, will restrict your movement and mobility, potentially costing you a competition win.
While smaller keyboards can be great in terms of saving space, they’re also more cramped meaning the hand has a harder job depressing the keys, and this can result in inflammation.
Furthermore, if a flat keyboard isn’t suitable for your preferred style of gaming, why not see if an ergonomic keyboard could more comfortably fit your needs? On the other hand, too big and you’ll have to stretch around the keyboard for the mouse.
The type of mouse you need will also depend on what kind of gaming you do, and whether you prefer playing on your PC or console.
PC is one of the most popular gaming platforms, which is why game developers tend to focus slightly more on this market as over half the titles released in 2020 were designed for PC, with around 56% of developers creating for this market.
Interestingly, male gamers lean more towards computers and consoles, whereas female gamers often turn to games which they can download to their phone or tablet.
Try to get an ergonomic mouse as this will reduce your risk of developing a repetitive strain injury which could take you out of the game – literally – for a few weeks while you recover. But what constitutes an ergonomic mouse, and how does it benefit eSport gamers?
All this technically means is that the mouse shape has been designed to be gripped and used as efficiently and as comfortably as possible. The necessary requirements for an ergonomic mouse include the following factors:
For those with a larger budget to spend on their gaming mouse, Razer is a leading brand and their accessories include the DeathAdder V2 Gaming Mouse which has one of the fastest gaming switches available and rubberized sides for better grip.
We know how easy it is to find yourself gripping your mouse with tight claw-hands during tense moments of action in your game.
Sharp response times and quick action can be the difference between a win or a loss, but this too can have negative health effects, so having a lightweight mouse with a switch type that you like won’t put too much strain on your hand or arm which is less likely to affect your posture and gives you more control in competitions.
To ensure there’s no unrestricted blood flow, it’s also necessary to think about how you will hold your mouse and keyboard, as the position of these two smaller pieces of equipment has just as much of an impact on your posture as your monitor.
You should aim for them to allow a comfortable 90-degree bend at the elbow so you can hold your arms closer to your body.
It’s best to rest the keyboard on a flat surface that is 2-3 inches above your lap, as this promotes a natural airflow and blood flow throughout the body whilst keeping your shoulders from rising up. It also takes away the need to stretch or slump over to reach the controls.
Try to line the ‘g’ and ‘h’ keys up with your belly button, as these are the central points of both you and the board so you won’t have to lean one way which could cause strain.
Gaming chairs will typically feature a high backrest to offer additional support for your lower and upper back. Some will also be adjustable, so you can really mold your chair’s proportions to your own body for the perfect fit when you sit.
If you’re able to, recline the backrest between 90 and 120 degrees. When you’re gaming you should try to make sure your back is pressed against the back of the chair and that you don’t lean forward from the backrest, as this slouched position is terrible for your posture.
Doing so will relieve some of the pressure that would otherwise be put on the discs in your back, lowering the risk of developing lower crossed syndrome or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
We’ve mentioned that your arms should rest at around a 90-degree angle bend, so having comfortable arm rests to prop them up will be great for your posture. With that said, they should rest on here gently rather than you pushing down on the arm rests for support.
Leaning heavily on the arm rests this way could lead to cubital tunnel syndrome, but if you go the other way and don’t rely on them enough you may still be using your shoulder muscles to hold your arms in position, which is a sure-fire way to develop ‘mouse shoulder’.
The desk is where the rest of your equipment resides, either on or nearby, so it’s vital to get this right when you’re setting up your gaming equipment.
The height of the desk should come up to around the top of your thigh but still be low enough for you to easily and comfortably rest your arms at the correct angle.
A desk that is too tall for your body proportions will lead to elbow and/or wrist strain, increasing your risk of developing mouse elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, or cubital tunnel syndrome.
It’s also important to make sure that you always pull your chair in slightly as you’re settling in for an intense training session so that there isn’t too much distance between you and your screen or the rest of your equipment.
Dr. Jesse Matsubara, an NIH physical therapist, reinforces that a good setup is essential for anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a computer.
It’s “important that your workstation fits you the best it can”, but you “should also switch sitting positions often, take brief walks around the office, and gently stretch your muscles every so often to relieve muscle tension”, and this brings us neatly onto our next tip.
Breaks and Stretching
We know the struggle of trying to tear yourself away from the screen when the action is starting to heat up, when you’re finally hitting a breakthrough in your training, or even when you’re about to finish a challenge and unlock a new level.
Despite all this, it’s important to try and take breaks during even the most intense gaming sessions.
Taking a quick pause to have some time away from your computer can be hugely beneficial for your posture. Additionally, taking short breaks ensures that your practice is more focused, as long hours of training can lead to mindless repetition over strategic gameplay.
Breaks will also improve your eyesight and your mental health, as this will give your eyes a rest from the light that’s produced by your monitor which helps prevent eye fatigue.
Stretching is another great way to improve your overall posture, as well as easing the effects that poor posture may have already had on your body.
Through encouraging better blood circulation, stretching reduces the chance of a clot forming which could have seriously negative health consequences.
Any stretches or stretching you do should target the muscles that are linked to postural control and how you hold yourself, including the muscles in the back, the abdomen, and the neck.
Not only can this type of targeted stretching soothe and reduce pain levels, but it also improves your flexibility and range of motion to give you an edge in the competition.
According to Zampieri, “yoga, tai chi, and other types of classes that focus on body awareness and mindfulness can help you learn to feel what’s wrong in your own posture” and that they “also help you connect your physical posture with your emotional state, offering benefits in both areas.”
Sounds pretty good to us.
Conclusion: Keeping and Maintaining Good Posture
If you’ve taken the time to reach the end of this guide to gaming posture, then you’re obviously aware that you need to be making some adjustments to the way you position and hold yourself when you’re gaming, so congratulations on taking the first steps!
We understand that when you’re gaming, the only thing you’ll want to focus on is the game at hand, but trust us when we say it’s just as important to focus on your posture if you want to progress in your career and also avoid the consequences of spending hours hunched over, sitting incorrectly, and feeling the pain starting to creep up your back.
Remember, if you’re concerned about your ability to sit properly without experiencing pain, you can always seek medical advice from your doctor as they might be able to give you a more in depth diagnosis and will be able to work closely with you on improving your posture.