DIY muscle relief for your techy patients
Move over tennis elbow. These days, texting and gaming hands may just be the more likely-to-complain-about leisure-based strain.
“When a movement is done repetitively, such as pushing the same buttons
for hours and hours, muscles and tendons can become tired and injured,”
says Helen Milic, registered massage therapist (RMT) and co-owner of
Bayview Sheppard RMT in Toronto, a professional multi-treatment massage
therapy clinic celebrating its tenth anniversary.
see an increase in gaming-related issues post-holiday season, but
texting is just so popular now that the risks of injury are ongoing,”
explains Lisa Macchia, RMT, and Milic’s partner in the clinic.
to the business partners, tendonitis, a repetitive strain from overuse
that can cause inflammation as the muscles and tendons rub against other
tissue, is a common injury that can occur from gaming and texting
overload. Pain can onset gradually and is usually present when muscles
are contracting and working, and goes away when muscles are at rest.
may notice cramping in their wrist, hands and fingers and may find it
difficult to do other simple movements or tasks such as brushing their
hair or even holding utensils to eat,” says Helen.
problems can be another result. Muscles in the neck, chest, shoulders,
back and hips are all affected from sitting too long or being curled-up
while holding a gaming paddle, laptop or smart phone.
these muscles become tired and stiff either because they are being
tightened or stretched. They are in the same position for too long,”
says Lisa. “When playing video games, this is further intensified, as
the adrenaline of the game causes players to tense certain muscles
because they feel this will help their performance.”
you’ve been hunched over the controls playing Nintendo’s Smash Brothers,
battling it out in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, or simply texting
the days and nights away, the RMTs offer some effective home treatments
and advice to relieve and reduce muscle pain:
Hydrotherapy (contrast bathing): This
age-old technique is used to decrease non-acute pain and increase
circulation, bringing essential nutrients and increased oxygen to
muscles and surrounding tissues. This can be done for the entire body in
a tub but here’s how to use contrast bathing to relieve arm pain:
Fill two tubs or a deep double sink you can fit your entire arm into,
one with hot water and one with cold – ensuring water is at your body’s
• Soak your arms in the hot water for
three minutes and then switch immediately to the cold and soak for one
minute. Repeat this three times.
• When switching between hot and
cold you may wish to add more hot water on the second or third round. If
you add more hot water be sure to keep one hand stirring while adding
the hot water so you don’t increase the temperature too much and burn
yourself,as your arms will be desensitized from being in the cold water.
To increase the effect of the contrast bathing on your arms try adding
ice or ice pack to the cold water.
Thumb and finger stretches: Grasp each individual finger/thumb and slightly pull to feel joints open, relax and move while you pull each digit.
1. Place forearm flat on a table or desk, palm down, and pull back fingers with the other hand bending at the wrist.
2. Place both palms together keeping fingers together, push fingers against each other while separating the palms.
your arm extended in front of you, put your thumb in a "thumbs up"
position. With your other hand wrap/grasp your fingers around your thumb
and pull the thumb back towards your body
Do not stretch through or with pain. Hold
for minimum 30 seconds. Repeat two to three times. This applies for any
and all stretches mentioned and should be done after activity. These
stretches help realign muscle fibres and promote healing and
restoration. These types of long stretches are not to be confused with
dynamic stretches (stretches used to warm up in order to do an
Use a pillow: Sit-up with a pillow on your lap
and place the game or texting device on the pillow in front of you. This
can help prevent a "curled" posture.
Use a gaming chair:
Although not ideal for gaming for long periods of time, these can help
prevent slouching and are available at various price points.
Set time limits: Set gaming or texting time limits or take breaks to relieve muscles and tendons from activity.
Rest: Rest is essential for healing. Time away from the activity depends on the severity of the injury or inflammation.
Keep hydrated: Drink plenty of water to replenish your muscles.
pain continues, visiting a professional massage therapy clinic for
targeted tendonitis and postural massage treatments is recommended. A
RMT will be able to provide a proper assessment to understand the
muscular issues and determine effective treatments.