Over time, prolonged gaming in a poor chair with poor posture will take a toll on your body. In fact, gaming is associated with a number of health problems. Here are just a few.
Gamers frequently experience pain in the neck, hand, wrist, or forearm. Two or more hours of gaming a day is associated with musculoskeletal symptoms, and more than two hours a day is associated with lower back pain.
Prolonged game playing (or use of any electronic device) is associated with eye strain and headaches. However, gaming is also associated with an increase in visual attention and acuity, not just in the peripheral but also in central vision.
Game play is consistently associated with obesity, with one study showing that boys who spent less than 1.5 hours a day gaming were 75% less likely to be overweight than those who spend more time.
While a gaming chair can't help your vision or your eating habits, a gaming chair may be able to help with lower back pain, provided that it is used properly. The truth is, back pain can be prevented by correct posture and ergonomics, and the right chair can help support good posture and ergonomics. But no chair can force correct posture, so a good gaming chair needs to be used properly and the gamer be mindful of their health and welfare while gaming.
A good gaming chair helps to reduce back pain in a number of different ways.
If the chair is correctly sized and adjusted, a gaming chair can help support the spine in a comfortably upright position, similar to the spinal position when standing upright. When in an upright position, the bones naturally support the body weight by being vertically stacked, helping to keep you strong and balanced.
When the spine is excessively curved, by slouching, leaning to one side, or arching the lower back, the muscles have to support more of your weight for longer than they were designed to do, instead of relying on the bones. This can cause pain and strain in the spine.
Unlike most chairs, gaming chairs come with lumbar support for the weakest part of your spine. The spine naturally curves in an S shape, so if you are sitting straight upright in a straight-backed chair, you will notice a gap in your lower back where it won't touch the chair back unless you curve, slump, or slouch your spine. The lumbar support cushion in a gaming chair is designed to fit into that gap and support your spine in the naturally curved position.
For those who are unused to sitting in chairs with lumbar support, the cushion may feel unusual or even uncomfortable in the beginning. However, a few days of using the lumbar support in a gaming chair will alleviate any discomfort and help your spine stay in a more natural shape and weight distribution.
While sitting for any length of time naturally compresses the veins in the lower body and inhibits circulation, chairs with hard seats and edges can further exacerbate the problem. Gaming chairs have softer edges and reduced angles designed to help promote blood flow to the lower body and help support good circulation.
Because so many gamers experience back pain, starting at a young age, it's important to protect your back and prevent pain while gaming. Here are a few things you can do:
It may seem counterintuitive to take a break from a leisure activity, but try to get up and walk around, do some stretches or a few jumping jacks, for 5 minutes of every hour of gaming. Running to the bathroom or kitchen doesn't count. Try to maintain continuous, whole-body movement for the entire 5 minutes, and focus on the full range of motion of the body; turn and tilt your neck, roll your shoulders, twist your waist, rotate your ankles, etc.
As often as you can or remember to, look away from the monitor. Focus your eyes things that are close up, far away, to the extreme right and left, etc.
Investing in a high-quality gaming chair will help to protect your spine and preserve your posture while you play.