handstretch

Ergonomics & Hand Stretching for Gamers

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There are four areas that a gamer interfaces with: the monitor, the keyboard and mouse, the chair, and the lighting of the environment. Setting up the interfaces with these ergonomic guidelines as well as maintaining a good posture will enhance your comfort and efficiency as well as prevent repetitive stress injuries.

The Monitor

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Position the monitor to minimize glare by placing it at a right angle to light sources or windows. Place the monitor as far away from you as possible while maintaining the ability to read without consciously focusing. Keep a minimum distance of 20 inches. Place the center of the screen at a 15 degree down angle from your eyes with your neck only slightly bent holding your head perpendicular to the floor. Align the monitor and the keyboard / mouse. Set the refresh rate at a minimum of 70 Hz to limit flicker.

Lighting

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The room should be moderately bright (equal to a nice day where sunglasses aren’t needed). Do not use task lighting for computer gaming. A mix of incandescent and fluorescent lights reduces flicker and provides good light color.

The Keyboard

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Position the keyboard slightly below the elbow and at a negative angle to allow the wrists to remain straight when you sit in a slightly reclined posture. Do NOT use a wrist rest while actively typing. It’s meant to rest on not to lean on when gaming. Hold your hands and arms off of any supports while typing. Do NOT use the keyboard supports to raise the back up. Do NOT tilt the keyboard tray so that the back of the keyboard is higher than the front. Though design and a lot of prevailing information say you should tilt the keyboard to a positive angle like this, it is wrong. A negative angle that allows the wrists to stay in their natural wrist position is better. A positive angle is a repetitive stress injury waiting to happen.

The Mouse

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Place the mouse on the same level as and immediately next to the keyboard tray. Keep the mouse in the arc line of the keyboard so that you can reach it when rotating your arm from the elbow. Do NOT use a wrist rest while using the mouse. Your forearm needs to be free to move so you do not strain the wrist.

The Chair

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Use arm rests. Place the lumbar support slightly below the waist line. Adjust the height of the chair so your feet can rest completely on the floor. Allow 1-3 inches between the edge of the seat and the back of your knees. Use a high back chair that supports your shoulder blades if at all possible.Position your hips so that they are slightly higher than your knees while your feet are flat on the floor. Don’t keep your feet flat on the floor. Move them around often. Use a foot rest if you have one, but only part of the time. Do NOT cross your ankles. Lean back slightly. Leaning the trunk back to somewhere between 100-130 degrees from parallel to the floor will open up the hips and ease pressure on the pelvis. I like 104 degrees myself. Make sure your chair back will support your shoulders at this angle while still providing good lumbar support. Hold your head slightly up so that it is roughly perpendicular to the floor. Let your upper arms hang naturally from your shoulders. Let your lower arms rest on the arm rests of your chair either parallel or slightly below, to the floor. Keep your wrists straight.

Breaks and Stretching
Change your position frequently. Move your feet, lift your arms, adjust your hips, and just make sure to subtly alter your posture continuously throughout you gaming session. Take frequent breaks. 10 minutes for every hour of gaming and 30 second micro-breaks every 10 minutes is a good schedule. Stretch during those breaks. Personally I find that inbetween Hot Join Matches and Tournament queues is a perfect time to stretch, try and train yourself to think about stretching while waiting for queues to pop.

Warm-Up

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Rotate your wrist up, down, and from side to side. Repeat 4 times.
Stretch your fingers far apart, relax them, then stretch them again. Repeat 4 times.
Stretch your thumb by pulling it back gently, holding it, and then releasing it. Repeat 4 times.

Stretches

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Extend your arm in front of you with your palm down. Bend your wrist, pointing your hand toward the floor.
With your other hand, gently bend your wrist farther until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm.
Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
Repeat with palm up.

Post Last Modified: January 19, 2013 11:07 pm