In traditional sports like football or soccer, injuries are a common and expected thing. In professional video games however, people who are not informed on the subject might not expect gamers to get injured. Staying fit in the real world is a still a key part of remaining a champion, even in eSports.
Proper conditioning can be essential to counter balance an eSport athlete’s intense focus and the repetitive movements required for back-to-back, day-long tournaments.
Starcraft 2 player Samayan‘BlinG’ Kay of Team Dignitas said the following about exercise in an interview with Red Bull:
“Most players I know that are competing at the highest level are already exercising or doing things to lead a healthy lifestyle, but if they weren’t I’d say definitely start as it really does improve the quality of practice you have and also your mindset as a whole.”
In the world of eSports, 12 to 14 hours team practices per day are a common thing. This can often lead to little time for a healthy meal and good night’s sleep. This lifestyle can even lead top-tier players to suffer serious injuries.
In 2011, Lee “Flash” Young Ho underwent surgery to repair his tendonitis. In 2014, Clinton “Fear” Loomis, one of the best DOTA 2 players in North America, was benched by tennis elbow, a condition that comes from overtaxing the hand and forearm muscles.
Dr. Daniel Polatsch, co-director of the New York Hand and Wrist Center and expert in treating injuries caused by the excessive hand and wrist movements associated with professional gaming said the following in a statement:
“Continual rapid movements over prolonged periods of time can cause inflammation. The fingers are controlled by tendons, which connect muscles to bone. With repetitive use, you can get inflammation, which can cause pain and a constriction in tendons.”
While these injuries can be painful, they aren’t serious unless left untreated.
Polatsch said injured players who push themselves too hard can make things worse, going from pain that can be easily treated with anti-inflammatory medications to something that a hand surgeon or specialist.
Fortunately, there are ways for players to protect themselves. According to Polatsch, the secret to staying healthy while following an arduous training schedule is to ramp up slowly and build up tolerance and stamina over time.
“As long as you advance slowly and have proper ergonomics—sitting in a proper chair, with your back straight and your feet on the floor—it’s usually not a problem.”
“Tendons that receive proper nutrition are less likely to have problems,” Polatsch explained. “So weightlifting and cardiovascular exercises help keep us more limber and reduce the likelihood of repetitive stress syndromes.”
An “Balls” Van Le, current substitute and former player for the League of Legends team Cloud9 is a “dedicated gym rat, defying the typical image of the sedentary gamer.”
Despite his intense training schedule — and the extracurricular gaming he enjoys during off-hours — Le almost never misses a day at the gym.
“It gives me more energy,” he said. “After a gym session, I feel more awake for the scrims [practice games the team plays together]. I can think more clearly. In League, you have to think fast. You have to be really smart.”
Le played tennis throughout high school before taking up professional gaming which, according to him, helped prepare for a career in eSports as racket sports and eSports share a lot in common. Both require mental jousting, quick reflexes and require players to think about what it takes to out-maneuver an opponent.
Before any serious match, Le insists on a healthy dose of exercise in order to working off pre-competition anxiety.
“I think it helps me play better,” he said. “I biked around Santa Monica beach once for two hours before an LCS match. It keeps your blood flowing.”
As a result of his daily exercise, Le has avoided sidelining wrist injuries which he personally attributes to years of developing a strong grip on the tennis racket. His physically-active lifestyle isn’t just improving his game, it’s keeping him out of the doctor’s office and in more tournaments.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org