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I hope this is not off-topic, but this is important for me, and I assume to many other gamers as well.

Unlike most other computer applications, many PC games make liberal use of the mouse for most actions, often requiring fast and / or prolonged movement. Sometimes games may leave my mouse hand aching for a bit.

Other than taking a break (and visiting this site meanwhile =D ), does anyone have any good tips for preventing or alleviating the pain? Exercises maybe?

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Consider making your environment more ergonomic –  Joe Philllips Jul 10 '10 at 5:29
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@Joe - consider defining what is an "ergonomic environment". –  Gnoupi Jul 10 '10 at 14:55
    
A really good question about the exercises! –  NPC Jul 19 '10 at 7:45
    
Haha I can't take this question seriously :( Stop playing and take a jog. Don't just rest your wrists, rest your eyes too! –  theorise Feb 17 '11 at 9:38
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I'll add a consideration: if you're experiencing pain, the best thing to do is REST your hands. Exercise is great, but it might do more harm than good if you do it when you're already in pain. –  Agos Nov 20 '11 at 19:16

9 Answers 9

up vote 23 down vote accepted

check out carpal tunnel exercises online like bending your wrist up and gently flexing it a few times, then doing the same but bending it down. also, you may want to look into a comfortable mouse if it isnt already, and a wrist lift for your mouse pad.

Here are some recommended carpal tunnel hand exercises, with descriptions

carpal tunnel hand exercises

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13  
That woman looks hopelessly unhappy. Maybe you should send her an advert for careers 2.0 –  Mark Henderson Nov 20 '11 at 19:19
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Day[9] explains some good stretches: youtube.com/watch?v=SSbf4mBKq-o –  jli Nov 20 '11 at 20:18

Putty is also good for hand exercise.

I'm partial to Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty.

Here's a diagram of recommended hand exercises using the Thinking Putty, but it also applies to any kind of putty that you can put in your hand and manipulate.

hand exercises for putty

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Can you please guide which putty is the best one around as amazon returns multitude results.. there are some specifically meant for therapy (like this one) –  Baz1nga Nov 24 '11 at 18:16

Assuming that you're just getting cramped, tired out and not experiencing full carpal tunnel (which you should see a medical professional for). I can highly recommend an NSD Powerball (or at Amazon). Great for giving your arm/wrist a whole different motion and exercise, and a fun way to build up a bit of lower arm strength (a lot of climbers and tennis players use them).

This question also reminds me of the bit in The Beach when Keaty is explaining to Richard the list of reasons why Francoise would never be interested in him:

Keaty: And seven: look at - look at your thumbs, man! They're well defined!

Richard: Wh-what is that supposed to mean?

Keaty: You play a lot of video games! That is a powerful index of incompatabilty.

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very nice gadget. Though, it requires some skill/training to get it spinning for a while. I never managed to do that for longer than 15s =(. Further it requires quite some power to operate this and Your hand might be already too tired for it after a game session. What about throwing a tennis ball against Your wall and catching it repetitively?^^ –  Dave Jul 10 '10 at 13:16
    
The powerballs are great, You can get the hang of one after a couple of days. –  Neil Aitken Jul 10 '10 at 15:06

This is an old question, but I suffer from wrist problems (and have for probably 10 years now) so I feel like I should share my experiences.

The first thing I want to say is - if you are experiencing pain, go and talk to a doctor. Keep talking to doctors until someone acknowledges that wrist pain is a serious condition and they take you seriously. This kind of pain does NOT go away, and it will NOT get better without work on your part.

I never found the recommended exercises did much for the pain. These are the things I found worked best:

  • Try to work/play in an ergonomic environment - Some companies I worked for offered ergonomic consultants to come and take a look at my work environment, and the tricks they taught me I took home to customize my home rig. There's sort of a "standard ergonomic/posture" diagram, this one looks about right. The part I found the hardest was trying to adjust the height of the table and the chair to match. Most tables are fixed-height, and even adjustable chairs have a range. If your feet are up off the floor when you get the desk/chair adjusted right, get a foot rest.
  • Try different mice. There are many that are billed as 'ergonomic' including trackballs, and some change the position of your hand to something you might find more comfortable. I found that the Logitech style (ie, MX518, although they make many with this shape) works best for me.
  • Use a brace. I found that one with a splint that goes about 6" from my wrist towards my elbow worked best. My doctor suggested I wear it while I sleep, because some people (especially those who use computers all day) tend to 'type in their sleep!'
  • Pick your battles. Sometimes I will opt not to continue playing a game because it is just too reliant on button mashing. I'd rather make it to retirement and be able to enjoy myself than burn out on a game now.

When I have pain, I like to pick up a small weight (ie, 5 lbs) and lay on my back. I rotate my wrist in different ways, similar to the exercises that people have mentioned. I also find that using a 'stress ball' (like this one) can help to work the joint and get it moving properly.

I've been in physical therapy before, and the therapist told me a few things that I find helpful to remember. One is that you should try to exercise every day. When you forget or get complacent, the pain will return. Even 2 weeks without a proper exercise regimen can cause issues to return. The second thing I learned was: if the exercises seem inconvenient or are a pain in the butt, remember that your choices are either pain on your schedule or pain on pain's schedule.

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+1 for Pain on your schedule or pain on pain's schedule. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Nov 26 '11 at 17:10

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very serious matter. It can mean a disablity in future, so I recommend seeing a doctor. He should suggest excersizes, do not take anonymous advice for that.

I had to switch to Xbox gaming because of that. Controller is easier on the wrist.

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carpal tunnel exercises are used as both post-surgical therapy and as preventative measures. in the case of someone who drives all the time or someone who works at a desk typing its not a bad preventative measure. no i am not a doctor, but when i was hired i was given a brochure by my employer regarding carpal tunnel syndrome and preventative measures you can take. –  mfg Jul 9 '10 at 20:06
    
ugh, preventive v. preventative. that word is in every sentence, ugh –  mfg Jul 9 '10 at 20:08
    
Thank you for your concern; I think I'm still far from that, the aching is mild, infrequent and passes away in a few hours. I just want to be careful. –  Oak Jul 10 '10 at 6:58
    
@Oak How old are you? When you reach around age 29-30, it's kind of like rust causing a train to grind to a halt, take good care of yourself always. –  bobobobo Sep 12 '12 at 0:59

Take a look at Workrave: basically it alerts you every X minutes and it suggests a little exercise to do during the break (you choose how many have to pass).

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Interesting, but can it be configured to play well with games? I don't mind if it interrupts me in the middle of a turn-based tactical game, but I would definitely not want it to interrupt me during an FPS game or any online game. –  Oak Jul 9 '10 at 20:59
    
Chances are that you want to shut it down while playing to an FPS: when workrave isn't working, you'll have to pay attention at your playing-time and take some pauses here and there. –  dag729 Jul 9 '10 at 21:33
    
An easy alternative would be to just use a cheap kitchen timer. –  Fambida Nov 20 '11 at 18:49
    
@Fambida in that way you wouldn't have a reminder for stretching exercises, useful as a prevention. –  dag729 Nov 29 '11 at 17:30
    
Does this ever help anyone. I wonder if OP even ever used this for half a day without closing it due to irritation (with the program) –  bobobobo Sep 12 '12 at 1:00

Here's my formula: items in order from what I perceive to be most helpful to least helpful.

  1. Pen input exclusively. Ditch the mouse. Wacom is the goto brand for tablets. The bigger the device, the better.

    pen input

    I should note that Pen devices usually have an "absolute position" mode, and an "xy" mode. "Absolute position" won't work with certain FPS games that were programmed to use mouse dx/dy offsets (the screen will spin) but this can be fixed. To turn your Wacom device into "xy offset mode", (instead of absolute position mode), turn off the TabletServiceWacom in Start Menu/Services. When you want to use absolute position mode (which is great for a game like Warcraft/Starcraft), turn it back on.

    stop wacom service for fps games

  2. If you have bigger hands, buy a bigger keyboard. (If you have smaller hands, you don't need this)

    kinderboard

    This keyboard is called the Kinderboard and has 1 inch-wide keys. Since I started using it, the irritation in my hands has gone down substantially, even allowing me to cut back on exercises and other treatment.

  3. Ice packs and hot water. Ice your whole wrist and hand for 10-20 minutes. Afterward, fill a small bin with hot water (about as hot as you can stand it, don't burn your skin!) and submerge your hand in it, (preferrably your wrist and forearm as well -- be sure to do both hands!). The water shouldn't be so hot that you can't just leave it in there for 5 minutes, but it should be hot enough to cause a blood rush to your hands (it feels good, especially right after icing). I usually do this once a day, in the morning before starting work, but I do it less when the irritation is less.

  4. Stretching routines (best done after hot water, or after a workout. Never stretch too hard, and try to avoid stretching cold, it isn't as good)

  5. Get Susan Butler's stretching program and follow it. Listening to the audios was very educational for me.

  6. Do bicep curls and forearm curls (front and back).

  7. Try to eat well.

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Buy a used copy of Repetitive Strain Injury: A Computer User's Guide by Emil Pascarelli M.D. and Deborah Quilter. (Dr. Pascarelli's Complete Guide to Repetitive Strain Injury: What You Need to Know About RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also a useful book, but the computer user's guide is all you really need.) I searched all over the internet before finally just buying the book, and I can tell you that it has such better information than what you can find online. Not to mention, you don't need to spend time at the computer while addressing problems related to computer use!

It has great illustrations for exercises and provides valuable answers regarding computer-related strain.

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You might try a Gripmaster. It's typically marketed to guitarists, but I think it would equally well for gamers.

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