Gamer warm-up

Esports Healthcare

A comprehensive gamer warm-up

This comprehensive program includes movements for all the muscles and joints involved in gaming from your fingertips to your elbows. This program also prepares your eyes for gaming by including a dynamic warm-up for all your eye movements.

  • Finger and thumb movements
  • Hand and wrist movements
  • Forearm movements
  • Eye movements

Did You Know?

The importance of warming up

Performing a warm-up is important prior to any physical activity, and gaming is no different! A good warm-up will make you feel loose and ready to play. A great warm-up will elevate your game play by mirroring the movements of your performance.

The Esports Healthcare: Gamer Warm-up is a comprehensive, dynamic movement routine that targets all the muscles and joints involved in gaming—for PC, console, and mobile gamers alike—that will help take your skills to the next level.

Gamer Warm-up: Individual Exercises

Fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms

gamer warm-up

Opposition finger-tap

With flexed fingers and full hand extension

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your hand open and fingers fully extended
  2. Tap the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb, forming a circle with these fingers. Then, return to the starting position with your hand open and fingers fully extended.
  3. Repeat step 2 with your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger one at a time.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for a total of two (2) sets.

Opposition finger-tap

With straight fingers and full hand extension

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your hand open and fingers fully extended
  2. Tap the pad of your index finger to the pad of your thumb, keeping both fingers straight. Then, return to the starting position with your hand open and fingers fully extended.
  3. Repeat step 2 with your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger one at a time.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for a total of two (2) sets.

Finger abduction

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your hand open, fingers extended, and pressed together, side-by-side.
  2. Keeping your hand open and fingers extended, slowly abduct (separate) your fingers as wide as you can.
  3. Keeping your hand open and fingers extended, slowly adduct your fingers back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for a total of five (5) repetitions.

Palms together, finger separation

  1. Begin with your palms and fingers pressed together.
  2. Separate your thumbs as far apart as you can without separating your palms or your other fingers. Then, bring your thumbs back together.
  3. Repeat step 2 with your index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger one at a time.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for a total of two (2) sets.

Fingers together, single finger circles

  1. Begin with your palms facing each other and fingertips together. Keep your fingers rounded as if you were holding a ball.
  2. Separate your thumbs without separating the other four fingers. Circle your thumb tips around each other forward for three seconds and backwards for three seconds. Try to keep your fingers rounded as if you were holding a ball.
  3. Repeat step 2 with your index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger one at a time.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for any fingers that feel less coordinated.

Carpal squeeze with wide palm extension

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your hand open and fingers fully extended
  2. Keeping your fingers extended, squeeze the base of your hand together.
  3. Then, open your hand back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat step 2 for a total of five (5) repetitions.

Forearm pronation and supination

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your palm facing upward.
  2. Turn your hand downward as far as you can.
  3. Then, turn your hand back upward as far as you can.
  4. Repeat step 2 for a total of five (5) repetitions.

Wrist flexion and extension

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your palm facing upward, your hand open, and your fingers extended
  2. Keeping your hand open and fingers extended through the entire movement, bend your wrist upward, toward the palm side of your forearm as far as you can.
  3. Then, bend your wrist downward, toward the knuckle side of your forearm as far as you can.
  4. Repeat step 2 for a total of five (5) repetitions.

Radial and ulnar deviation

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your palm facing upward, your hand open, and your fingers extended
  2. Keeping your hand open and fingers extended through the entire movement, bend your wrist to the pinky side of your forearm as far as you can.
  3. Then, bend your wrist to the thumb side of your forearm as far as you can.
  4. Repeat step 2 for a total of five (5) repetitions.

Wrist circumduction

Perform with both hands:

  1. Begin with your palm facing upward, your hand open, and your fingers extended.
  2. Keeping your hand open and fingers extended through the entire movement, roll your wrists in a clockwise direction three (3) times.
  3. Repeat step 2 in a counter-clockwise direction three (3) times.

Gamer Warm-up: Individual Exercises

Muscles of the eyes

Near-to-far focus

  1. Hold an object (for example, a pencil or your thumb) in front of your nose, approximately 12 inches away from your face.
  2. Hold the object in front of a background target at least 10 feet away (for example, the wall of your room or any object outside your window).
  3. First, focus your eyes on the object (the pencil eraser or your thumb nail). Then, focus your eyes on the background target.
  4. Repeat step 3 for a total of ten (10) repetitions.

Smooth pursuit

  1. Hold an object (for example, a pencil or your thumb) in front of your nose, approximately 12 inches away from your face.
  2. Without moving your head, slowly move the object back and forth, up and down, or diagonally.
  3. Move the object in H-pattern and/or an X-pattern, moving it as far as your eyes can gaze without the need to move your head. Try to reach all four corners of your gaze.

Target gaze

  1. Choose any focal point directly in front of your face; for example, a point on your computer screen.
  2. Without moving your head, look directly upward as far as you can, as if you were looking at 12 on a clock. Then, return your gaze to the starting point in front of you. Repeat this gaze pattern for each of the remaining 11 numbered positions on a clock in a clockwise pattern.
  3. Repeat step two in a counter-clockwise pattern, beginning again with 12 o’clock.

Reduce Your Risk

Our gamer warm-up may aid in prevention

Below is a list of 6 common esports injuries and/or ailments that our warm-up may aid in preventing. The list includes icons to help you identify the ailment by its most common symptom presentation. Click any of the names to read a brief background on that specific injury or ailment. Each of the esports injuries listed below has its own dedicated page with all the information you’ll need to understand the ailment, to prevent it, or even to rehabilitate the injury if it has occurred.

Simply stated, eye strain is the most common ailment for all gamers from the most casual gamer to the most intense competitor. Of course, this ailment is even more common for those participating in esports due to the excessive amount of time spent looking at a monitor.

Eye strain is a condition that occurs after long hours of strenuous activity for the muscles in and around your eyes. For gamers, this will occur after prolonged screen time which includes short, rapid movements of the eyes and focus only on the monitor(s) in front of you.

Eye strain is exactly what it sounds like. After staring at your screen for hours on end, the muscles in and around your eyes become irritated or strained. There are muscles on the outside of your eyes for eye movement, and there are muscles inside your eyes to contract or relax the lens and pupil. Each of these muscles have the potential to become strained.

Tension-type headaches are considered secondary headaches. In other words, they are not truly pain in the head (e.g., the brain, its protective sheaths, or the skull). Instead, muscles of the upper back, neck, head, and face refer pain to different regions of the head.

Commonly, tension develops in the muscles of the upper back and neck when posture is poor. For gamers, this usually occurs when the head is leaning towards the monitor and the shoulders are rounded forward—a condition known as upper crossed syndrome.

Mouse elbow is one of the most common esports injuries (all the above are better categorized as ailments or conditions). Mouse elbow is a chronic injury to the extensor tendons of the forearm (which control the wrist and fingers) that attach to the outside (thumb side) of the elbow. The muscles involved are the extensor muscles that open the hand and bend back the wrist. As the name suggests, PC gamers are more likely to experience this injury due to the use of the mouse.

Due to misuse and imbalance, the fiber orientation of the extensor tendons on the outside of the elbow become disrupted. This dysfunction is called a tendinopathy, which is different than tendinitis—a common misnomer for this condition. Collectively, tendinopathies are the most common esports injuries.

Gamer’s thumb is the common term for the diagnosis of tenosynovitis from repetitive use of the thumb. Specifically, gamer’s thumb affects the tendon sheaths of the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles. These muscles pull the thumb away from the hand and palm.

This condition is also commonly associated with and precedes de Quervain’s—or stenosing tenosynovitis—of the same tendon sheaths named above. This condition is categorized by thickening and hardening of the tendon sheath and will often require surgery.

In console gaming, these motions are primarily involved in thumb stick movements. This condition has also recently been identified with greater prevalence due to text messaging on mobile devices and is sometimes called “texter’s thumb.” Although possible, a diagnosis of gamer’s thumb is less common for PC gamers than it is for console gamers.

Medial epicondylosis is an ailment that occurs in the flexor tendons of the forearm (which control the wrist and fingers) that attach to the inside (pinky side) of the elbow. The muscles involved are the flexor muscles that close the hand and flex down the wrist.

This injury tends to be more common in console gamers. It would not be surprising if this condition earned a gamer name—perhaps along the lines of “trigger elbow” or “console elbow.”

Due to misuse and imbalance, the fiber orientation of the flexor tendons on the inside of the elbow become disrupted. This dysfunction is called a tendinopathy, which is different than tendinitis—a common misnomer for this condition. Collectively, tendinopathies are the most common esports injuries.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is impingement or irritation of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel—an anatomical structure found at the base of your hand. When the median nerve becomes irritated in this region due to pressure, inflammation, and/or stretching, symptoms are likely to occur. Despite its attention, carpal tunnel syndrome is actually not among the most common esports injuries.

However, carpal tunnel syndrome tends to occur in people who spend a lot of time using a PC with poor body mechanics; therefore, if you’re a PC gamer, you are more likely to experience this ailment. More specifically, carpal tunnel syndrome is more likely to occur in your right hand due to prolonged extension of the wrist to hold the mouse.

Note: if you’re a console gamer, you are not necessarily excluded from the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. However, due to the hand positions and movement patterns involved in gripping a console controller, it is significantly less common.

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Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Esports Healthcare disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

The information contained on this website does not establish, nor does it imply, doctor-patient relationship. Esports Healthcare does not offer this information for diagnostic purposes. A diagnosis must not be assumed based on the information provided.