Virtual lives lead to real injuries

Dedicated esports players can still face the same physical concerns as traditional athletes

Esports match being played at the LoL Park in Korea (INVEN Esports/photo)
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By Caroline Egan

Playing video games for hours on end can be a great form of entertainment during a pandemic, but sitting down for extended periods of time comes at a physical cost. 

The former president of SFU Esports Association, Derian Chow, has dealt with carpal tunnel, back and neck problems as a competitive player. “Carpal, I feel like, is the more important one, since some people overlook the importance of proper hand and wrist placement, as well as how long you’re playing per session,” Chow said. Other things like appropriate desk heights and adjustable monitors are beneficial as well. 

Staying physically active can help players rehabilitate and provide stress relief, but taking preventative measures is the best way to help players perform and stay in good shape. 

Marc Rizzardo, a sports physiotherapist at Metrotown Physiotherapy Clinic and coach of Langara’s men’s soccer team, said he sees esports players come in for treatment all the time.

“I see them in my office because of their posture and their back,” Rizzardo said. He said it’s  important for people to get up and move every day to help maintain their physical health. The most common types of issues are back-related injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Rizzardo said mental health is also important and emphasizes this with the athletes he works with. “I think the mental aspect is a huge component for us every year. I try and make sure I’m aware [of their mental health].”

Maung Maung Than, a third-year biology student at Langara and competitive esports player, said he likes to balance his life with video games and physical activity. 

“The main thing is sitting here for 14 hours, not moving my legs. Just posture and probably exercising would help,” Than said.  

Aside from competing in League of Legends, Than also participates in rock-climbing and ultimate Frisbee. He said being physical and getting outside helps his performance in League of Legends.

With all the reasons to stay inside, gaming and other forms of indoor entertainment can prove to be a release. With that, however, it is important to remember to go out and get some exercise, especially in these stressful times. “If you’re stressed out and you go for a run, all of a sudden, you’re feeling better.” said Rizzardo. “I think most people get that, especially the people that do it.”

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