Optimising esports performance – Reducing injury & team building

In part one, Dr David Amirrezvani gave us tips and tricks on how professional esports players could improve their performance by increasing their health and well-being. This time around, we find out how to reduce esports injuries. 

You can read part one HERE.

Dr Amirrezvani, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist, and has done a two part-series about health and wellbeing in esports and how it can improve performance levels.

Dr Amirrezvani is both passionate about and focused on esports. He’s worked with collegiate teams in both Overwatch and CS:GO to date, and you can find out more about him here.

Across the pro esports landscape in 2019, competition is fiercer than ever. Players work to optimise their precision, reflexes, communication skills, and game knowledge. They finely tune the techniques in which they excel while also strengthening areas in need of improvement. 

Unfortunately, in competitive gaming, maintaining one’s physical and mental health is often overlooked. As players dedicate hours to improving their gaming ability, their real-life health can suffer. Whether it’s from sitting for an extended duration with poor posture, increased stress after a crucial loss, or a lack of consistent, restful sleep, the adverse effects of gaming can severely worsen a player’s overall health.

Decrease risk of injury

Many esports injuries are a result of muscular imbalances. Every muscle group in the body has an antagonist or equal and opposite force. If one particular muscle group is overworking, it’s opposing muscle group will be underworking. This muscular imbalance results in overuse of certain tendons and joints, which leads to pain and repetitive strain injuries. Regular physical exercise can help address these muscular imbalances by increasing functional strength and endurance specific to esports.

Reducing esports injuries is key for a team’s long-term success Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Postural endurance is critical for esports athletes secondary to the static nature in which competition takes place. Regular exercise can help improve endurance in the muscles that are repetitively used when competing so that they can tolerate the demand placed on them over an extended period.

If experiencing any pain or symptoms on a persistent basis, it is imperative that you see a Doctor of Physical Therapy to ensure optimal mechanics and implement strategies for injury prevention. A Doctor of Physical Therapy is able to provide you with a combination of treatments including manual therapy, ergonomic assessment, strength and conditioning, as well as specific mobility and stability exercises to not only treat your pain but keep it away!

Promotes team building & camaraderie

One of the biggest limiting factors to maintaining a consistent routine of exercise is a lack of motivation. Motivation and its implications in both physical exercise and esports performance are mandatory aspects of team building and unity. Similar to how team-based esports require effective communication, motivation, and synchronicity, group exercise can help facilitate these various components of performance across the board.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Teammates, coaches, and organisational staff can work together towards a common goal while holding each other accountable just as they would in practice or when competing for a championship. The regularity of exercise within an esports organisation can create a sense of togetherness among teammates.

This will translate to improved performance when engaging with competition together in-game.

Optimise sleep hygiene

Optimal sleep patterns are essential for allowing the body to undergo the restorative benefits associated with recovery. Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of harmful side effects including inability to focus, mental and physical fatigue, irritability, decreased cognitive retention and information processing increased stress and anxiety, and other detriments to overall competitive performance. Whether learning new strats, scrimming, or VOD reviews, sleep plays an essential part in overall performance.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Regular exercise has been proven to improve sleep patterns with even as little as 10 minutes of aerobic activity daily! Physical exercise improves not only sleep quality but increases uninterrupted sleep duration throughout the night. Recent research suggests that regular exercise helps diminish sleep interruptions and even insomnia while having similar effects of sleeping pills.

Although variables such as timing, type, frequency, and intensity of exercise are important to consider, it’s essential to focus simply on achieving any routine that is easy-to-maintain and enjoyable! Think of prioritising exercise as you would any prescription medication, with specific dosage and regularly because as they say, exercise is the best medicine!

Increase self-esteem & confidence

Despite the obvious aesthetic benefits that exercise provides our physical appearance, there are many positive influences that it can have on our overall confidence and self-esteem in a competitive environment. Similarly to how reaching training goals can provide an alternative sense of achievement for esports athletes, it can also offer boosts in confidence.

Astralis Danish Defence

Photo credit: BLAST Pro Series

Although the true underlying benefits of exercise on one’s mental health are unparalleled, the positive effects on one’s physical appearance cannot be undervalued. As the landscape of esports is ever-changing, so too are the perceptions and stereotypes surrounding gamers. With an increasing presence in the public eye, esports athletes are under more scrutiny now than ever in various aspects.

Promoting a self-image that not only focuses on a healthy lifestyle but also demonstrates the dedication and professionalism of an esports athlete helps to improve a player’s overall self-confidence, giving them a competitive edge. Look good, feel good, play well.

If you want to find out more about specific questions or would like to see more features like this on esports injuries or wellbeing, contact [email protected]

Disclaimer: This post was authored by David Amirrezvani, Esports Medicine and Performance, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist and a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist).