11 Hand Exercises for Gamers

Feeling pain or stiffness in your hand, wrist, or fingers?

Incorporating a warm-up routine (hey, pro athletes also stretch before game time!) of hand exercises is a great way to avoid pain and keep your movements fast and furious whether you’re in front of the TV or playing on a PC.

We have a routine of the best 11 hand exercises for gamers, but first a little context as to why they are so important.

 

Yes, we said “sports injury”

When you think of a professional athlete, what comes to mind?

If your brain is conjuring up images of strapping, muscular gym rats dripping with sweat… then it’s time to crawl out from under your rock and join the 21st century! Yep, there’s a whole new type of contender in town – the amazing esports athlete.

Since the very first Spacewar tournament way back in 1972, professional gaming, aka esports, has exploded in global popularity. With millions regularly tuning in to watch their favorite teams compete in DotA, Overwatch, and League of Legends, it’s safe to say that esports players can be considered bona fide athletes.

Which makes you, the non-pro gamer, an amateur athlete. That’s right, mom! We’re playing sports.

Now, we’re not implying that professional gamers can’t be ripped; it’s just that your regular, run-of-the-mill sports stars usually use their hamstrings, glutes, and other muscles that (most) people don’t use for gaming. This, in turn, means that sports injuries for gamers will look very different from sports injuries for “other” athletes.

The most common grievances for gamers instead include hand, finger, and wrist pain. So, if you have been feeling pain, inflexibility, and stiffness in that region, it’s time to ring your old high school coach – because you’ve got a sports injury!

Sure, you might not be bagging a Red Bull sponsorship any time soon, but, much like an avid jogger or weekend gym bunny, anyone who games regularly will be prone to these kinds of injuries. Joint pain can hinder performance and sap the enjoyment out of your gaming sessions.

Luckily, you won’t need expensive biokinetics appointments or grueling physio sessions to stay on top form. Instead, have a look at our tips and tricks to keep your assets healthy and injury-free.

 

Strain of the game

How do we develop hand injuries anyway? It’s not like we’re using weighted controllers or anything (right??).

The long and short of it is that any kind of prolonged repetitive motion (button smashing, controller swerving, marathon raiding, etc.) can have a detrimental effect on your joints, causing tingling, swelling, numbing, and general pain. These symptoms are mostly caused by either tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you’re thinking, “Carpal tunnel?? Like I’m an office worker?!” then we regret to inform you that not all sports injuries are glamourous. However, tendonitis, or the inflammation of your tendons, is a much more likely culprit – and thankfully one that’s easily avoided!

6 warm-up exercises for gamers

Prevention of gaming injuries is key, or, as we like to say: protect yourself before you wreck yourself!

Just like marathon runners stretch and warm up their legs before a race, gamers will need to flex and flick their joints before a tournament, live stream, or a casual round. This will help keep inflammation, and therefore tendonitis, at bay.

These exercises won’t take you more than a few minutes – but they will keep you gaming for longer:

Finger-tap & flex + full hand extension

Much like a dual-wielding warrior, this exercise uses both hands:

 

  1. Open your hands and fully extend your fingers.
  2. Tap the tip of your index to the tip of your thumb, forming a circle.
  3. Return to the starting position with your hand open and fingers fully extended.


Repeat steps 2 and 3 with each finger, using one at a time, for a total of two sets.

Finger-tap with straight fingers + full hand extension

Also, a two-hander, this exercise builds on the previous one.
  1. Open your hands and fully extend your digits.
  2. Tap the pad of your index to the pad of your thumb, keeping both fingers straight.
  3. Return to the starting position with your hand open and fingers fully extended.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 with each finger, using one at a time, for a total of two sets.

Finger abduction 1

Think of this one as ab exercises for fingers! Actually, maybe don’t… finger abs sound a bit horrifying.
  1. Open your palms, extend your fingers, and press together.
  2. Keeping your hand open and fingers extended, slowly separate your fingers as wide as you can.
  3. Keeping the position, slowly return your fingers back to the starting position.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 for a total of five repetitions.

Finger abduction 2

No, seriously, stop thinking about finger abs.

  1. Begin with your palms and fingers pressed together.
  2. Pull back your thumbs as far apart as you can without separating your palms or other fingers.
  3. Bring your thumbs back together.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 with each finger, using one at a time, for a total of five sets.

Finger circles

Imagine your creating tiny portals, without GLaDOS hissing in your ear.

  1. Begin with your palms facing each other and fingertips together. Keep your fingers rounded as if you were holding a ball.
  2. Separate your thumbs, but keep your other fingers together. Circle your thumb tips around each other forward for three seconds and backward for three seconds. Try to keep your fingers slightly rounded throughout.

Repeat steps 2 & 3 with all your fingers for a total of three sets.

Carpal squeeze

Just squuueeeeze away all the thoughts of finger abs.

  1. Open both hands with digits fully extended.
    Squeeze the base of your hands together.
  2. Open back to the starting position.


Repeat step 2 for a total of five repetitions.

There you have it. You should now be all warmed up and ready to game!


5 bonus wrist exercises

Aside from warming up, there are also a few general wrist exercises you can do to build up strength and endurance in your wrists and forearms. This will help with overall pain control, while also (maybe) giving you some sweet Street Fighter muscles.

Pronated extensors

This one might feel a tiny bit uncomfortable – but trust us, it’s nothing compared to being unable to try the latest PS5 release just because your wrists are stiff!

  1. Straighten your elbows and turn your palms downwards.
  2. With one other hand, pull your wrist downward, stretching the top side of your forearm. You should feel mild discomfort but no pain.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds on each arm.

Supine flexors

This one might also tingle a bit – but think of the PS5 releases!

  1. Begin with your elbow straight and your palm is facing upward.
  2. With your other hand, pull your wrist downward, stretching the palm side of your forearm. You should feel mild discomfort but no pain.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each arm.

 

Joint distraction: wrists

Distraction! That sounds fun, right?

  1. Begin with your hand relaxed in front of your body and your palm facing towards your chest.
  2. With one hand, grip the other hand above the wrist joint and gently pull outward. You might feel and see some separation at your wrist joint.
  3. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, then swap hands.

 

Prayer position stretch

As in praying to get strong for the stream!

  1. Press your palms and fingers together, with fingers pointing upward and your elbows pointing outward.
  2. Level up the intensity of the stretch by keeping your elbows in place and lowering your hands. Again, it should tingle a little, without actually being painful.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds before swapping sides.

 

 

Reverse prayer position stretch

Remix and reverse!

  1. Press your palms and fingers together, with fingers pointing downward and your elbows pointing outward.
  2. Increase the intensity of the stretch by keeping your elbows in place and raising your hands. Try and breathe through the slight discomfort, but stop if it becomes painful.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then swap sides.

Get into the habit of doing these stretches before a gaming session and reap the benefits!

Break times not break downs

Okay, so here’s the part you knew was coming. We left it until right at the end, so as not to scare you off. Ready? Here goes:

If you want to game injury-free, you must take breaks during gaming.

Phew, that wasn’t so bad, right? Right?? Okay, okay, we’ll give you a minute.

The point is that all these injuries are mainly caused by over-exertion and prolonged action. You know what we’re talking about – those all-night jams after which you can barely lift a glass of water. So, in addition to the stretches and exercises above, simply taking a 10-minute breather every hour or so will work wonders for your hands and health.

Remember to get up and move around – sitting for extended periods is also not healthy. A few sets of star jumps or yoga stretches will do you a world of good.

A short break and some movement now mean a long session later!

 

One last tip

At Outbreak Nutrition, we care about our athletes (both digital and real-world) performing at their very best. We now have debilitating hand pain can be, so we created a new special formula designed to relieve joint pain today and protect against further pain and stiffness in the future.

It’s called A.D.S (Arthro Daily Support) and used in conjunction with the exercises above; you will have a healthy gaming routine to put you in a position to perform at your best.

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