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Musculoskeletal disorders in video gamers

Video gaming is one of the most popular recreational activities in the world. In 2021 there were approximately 3.24 billion gamers across the globe, and the market is almost twice as big as the global fitness and health club industry.

Video gaming is a screen-based activity, comparable to watching TV, working at the computer or using a smartphone. These activities are characterised by long, continuous sitting periods and physical inactivity.

A systematic review critiqued 16 studies which examined the effects of gaming on musculoskeletal health. It was concluded that excessive video game playtimes (>3h/day) was a predictor for musculoskeletal disorders such as neck, shoulder and back pain. Other factors such as sleeping habits, psychosocial balance, socioeconomic status, and environmental and ergonomic factors were also seen to be negatively affected.

Upper limb and wrist pain were also common complaints in excessive smartphone usage, and those that exceed five-hours per day had associated lower back pain.

Moderation is key when it comes to educating those who engage in gaming and smartphone usage. It isn't just postural advice that needs addressing, the importance of physical activity, a balanced diet, and psycho-emotional health must be considered to promote a healthy balance.

Tholl, C. et al. (2022). Musculoskeletal disorders in video gamers - a systematic review. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 23(678) 1466.

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