How to Save Your Hands, Your Back, and Maybe Your Stocks with Stretches
When it comes to any video games, ergonomics plays an enormous role in preventing injury. For your standard PC gamers, an ergonomic setup is a little bit clearer: armrests at the same height as the keyboard/mouse, top of the monitor even with the eye line, good back support on your chair, feet planted on the floor. The proper ergonomics to avoid pain is not so clear for anyone using a controller.
For the most part, it’s a lot harder to sit fully upright and still have your hands/arms supported in a comfortable position when you’re using a controller unless you have something like a lap desk tray to support the controller on (which may not be as stable or comfortable as players like). Back and neck stretches are key to avoiding back pain at long tournaments and preventing long-term stress on the back.
Neck and shoulder stretches are just as important; I’ve never met a player who didn’t have a tendency to let their shoulders creep up towards their ears as they get more tense during a tournament. Simply being aware of that tendency can help prevent it from happening, but postural habits can be hard to break. When possible, pay attention to your posture. Your head and neck shouldn’t be pushed forward, but aligned as directly over your shoulders as possible with your chin slightly inclined towards your neck/chest. When you find your muscles getting too tight to maintain good posture, take some time to stretch or relax against a chair with good back and neck support (not always easy to find at a hotel venue, I know).
Please note that if you have sharp neck pain, a feeling of “pinching” when you turn or tilt your head to the side, or symptoms of pain/numbness/tingling/weakness down your arms, this may indicate a serious nerve issue that you need to talk to your doctor about. Similarly, any persistent symptoms down your legs likely indicate nerve issues in your low back. This is not the kind of thing you want to mess around with; go see your doctor immediately if you develop these symptoms.