With the Qatar summer in full velocity many of us have been finding ways to stay entertained inside, in the safety of our air conditioned apartments, understandably. However, finding ways to keep fit and occupied inevitably leads one to playing with the awesome Nintendo Wii or other fun games consoles such as the new Xbox Kinect. Having just invested in this new ‘fun’ technology this summer I didn’t expect to end up with my arm in a sling – but that’s exactly what happened. Why? Read on…
When I recently purchased a new Xbox Kinect, the intention had been to keep fit and have fun like many other people. What I hadn’t expected was a sprained shoulder and to be sporting a sling for the next few days, not to mention the excruciating pain. What people don’t realize is that playing these games requires a lot of energy and, without taking proper precautions, can lead to injury.
Osteopaths have said they have seen an increase in the number of people who have injured themselves playing this new breed of strenuous, interactive game. “I’ve treated people with back problems, or wrist injuries and shoulder problems. Golf players have had trouble with the lumbar spinal area due to twisting to take a shot. We’re seeing injuries that could be prevented by not over doing it and preparing properly,” my osteopath told me.
A spokeswoman from the Society of Chartered physiotherapists agrees saying, “These games are a good thing and professionals like me are glad people are using them, but how people launch themselves into it is what we’re concerned about. These game consoles get people active in a fun way, but without precautions you may get hurt.”
The Nintendo Wii blazed the trail on interactive electronic games with a bang in 2006 and unlike the traditional game consoles, where the players thumbs are doing most of the work, the Wii is played by waving a wireless, motion-sensitive box through the air to control the movement of bats, racquets and golf clubs. The motion itself imitates the moves you might make whilst engaging in the actual game but the repetitive action is causing all kinds of injuries. Now, with the release of the Kinect, which uses sensors to detect your moves, people are finding themselves using it even more strenuously.
Robin Shepherd of the General Osteopathic Council says, “People don’t realise that these games are just as intense as playing the sport itself and proper care should be taken to warm up and cool down afterwards, as you would with any exercise. Those who seem to suffer the most are parents who are determined not to be out done by their kids. Once competiveness kicks in there is a tendency to overexert and then injuries occur. I see quite a lot of parents who have caused injury to themselves this way. Any movement made over and over that is out of the ordinary can cause problems. For example the boxing game where you’re throwing punches over and over, but not impacting against anything, causes shoulder strain or possible problems with the elbows.”
Shepherd suggests, when trying to beat your kids at their own game, remember the following: You are not as young or as flexible as they are. Also, these sporting games are more ‘sporting’ than they are ‘games’, so proper precautions should be taken to avoid this kind of injury.
And if the repetitive and competitive nature of these games don’t get to you, watch out for the flying controller. There have also been reports of people falling over coffee tables, or smashing into the furniture. Others have broken everything from vases to TVs by letting the handheld controller fly out of their grasp. There has been a spate of websites springing up bearing the happy news of hapless folk who have injured themselves or others through vigorous game playing, check out Wii Injury, for a frankly gratuitous look at how people conduct themselves when they don’t think it will be posted to the web!
These games consoles can be terrific fun which leads people to overdo it by playing for hours. With new releases proving popular such as Zumba and Dance Central, aches and sprains are likely to keep osteopaths busy throughout the summer. But as long as you warm up first and cool down afterwards you’ll reduce the likelihood of injury. Got that old-timer?
Video evidence that you need plenty of space – and watchout for the old-timer!