Don't shame-r the gamer
Our member and physiotherapist, Shae Martello, explains why gamers might keep their hobby a secret and what physios should do about it
Too often when we ask clients what they do for leisure or recreation they answer exclusively in terms of physical recreation or sporting endeavours. When prompted, they are often reluctant to elaborate on what they do outside of work/home duties or study if they don’t participate in a ‘physical’ activity.
One of the most important considerations in treating a person as a whole is what physical stresses their body undergoes throughout an entire day. I.e. what positions their body is in.
One of the things I came to realise from the covid-19 pandemic is that we are living in a world dominated by electronics, technology and media. It would be naive to think that people don’t lay on the couch watching tv or sit in front of a computer for leisure at least some point during their day.
It’s these seemingly innocuous positions of the passive hobbyist that can often tell a story of why someone has ongoing neck, back, hip, shoulder, wherever pain of unknown origin. If someone is spending 2+ hours a night after work on the couch, that’s a vital piece of information in their clinical history.
Take gaming for example. A report by Australian Parliamentary House in 2015 identified that 98% of Australian homes with children under 18 years of age have a gaming device and that 68% of Australians play interactive video games. Of that percentage, 78% were aged 18 years or older. This would suggest that approximately 53% of Australians over the age of 18 play video games. Esports (competitive gaming) is a huge professional industry, generating over $1 billion in 2019, with growth projected to continue to increase in coming years.
If someone is a gamer, they often don’t want to offer that information in an initial consult. I assume it’s the fear of being judged or stereotyped by a stranger. Sedentary, passive hobbies have long been looked down upon and we as physiotherapists are of course pro movement and physical activity, but we are also pro people enjoying and getting the most out of the life they have, by getting the most out of the body they have.
What gamers need to know is that they are not going to be judged or looked down upon when they come to us. Yes, we may encourage a little more physical activity. Yes, we may recommend less time gaming. Yes, we may have suggestions on ways to make their computer or couch set-up more ergonomically friendly. But, ultimately, we are going to give them strategies to get the most out of their gaming experience. After all, our main goal is to help everybody get the most out of their body to live their best life, whatever their goals are.