At the end of the gift giving season, it is time to start playing. I am sure that I will be getting lots of Nintendo Wii sports games this Christmas. These are the only games I play, but I will play any sport, even bowling. Buying gifts for people who have the Nintendo Wii is easy, but there are hazards that are involved with some of these games.
According to the journal of Skeletal Radiology, Volume 37, Number 5 / May, 2008 three researchers from Mayo Clinic, Michael P. Nett, Mark S. Collins and John W. Sperling, published an article presenting the case of a 22-year old male who reported shoulder soreness after playing Wii Sports Bowling. According to the article, prolonged participation in a physically interactive virtual video game can cause abnormalities in muscles of the shoulder and upper arm which leads to physical discomfort and pain. The reason behind this kind of injury, as quoted in the report, are “the lack of resistance offered by the light 200 g handheld controller to the aggressive maneuvers made by the participant leads to awkward deceleration forces being applied to the upper extremity. It is likely that, during the deceleration phase of swinging the Wii controller, there is significant eccentric loading on the participant’s muscle groups, causing the ultrastructural damage, as demonstrated in this case.”
Playing sports games with the Nintendo Wii is similar to playing the sport itself, well it can actually be worse, because there is virtually no resistance in the motion, ie the controller has absolutely no weight while a bowling ball weights in at 12 to 16 pounds. A vast difference in weight. I think our 22-year old male was using too much force for a rather simple motion. I have seen people contort their wrists in an unusual manner “to put spin on the ball”, while playing Wii Sports Bowling, that I am surprised that their wrists did not snap. Throwing a real bowling ball with the wrist in such a manner would have snapped their wrists off, but a 200 g controller is much more forgiving.
Below is the five precautions that you should pay attention to if you do not want to succumb to any Nintendo Wii injuries.
1. Warm Up
I have learned from experience that I have to stretch when I first open up a Nintendo Wii sports game, it is just like any sports activity. Even though it is just a game, it actually simulates a sport. With the wii remote, you will actually move your body and your arms like you would in a real sport. Because there is virtually now weight in the controller, it is easy to over exert yourself.
2. Dress appropriately
Make sure you dress in proper gym attire. Loose pants, a sweat shirt tee shirt and proper footware. Believe me this can make a big difference in possible injuries, especially if you are playing on a mat or a board. You do not want to slip and injure yourself. You also want to be comfortable when you are playing sports.
3. Move obstacles
Clear everything around you that you can injure yourself on, ie, tables, chairs, knick knacks etc. Believe me it is so easy to keep your eyes on the TV screen and hit something that can inflict pain on yourself. I have often found that you should move things as far as possible.
4. Pay attention to pain
This is crucial, especially if you are just starting to play the sports games. If you are not in condition than this vital, you are going to feel discomfort quite quickly – so quit playing when the pain starts. Work yourself up to prolonged playing. It can also mean that you are not using the right motion when you are playing the game, which I think happened to the 22 year-old who was studied at the Mayo Clinic. He was probably using too much force for a rather simple fluid motion.
5. Practice moderation
Ok, this is hard, I know what it is like. Keep your game playing to a moderate level. I know that with game playing it is easy to get caught up in playing the game for hours, . I personally will limit myself to the length of a regular sporting event. When I box, I limit myself to 15 rounds, I also know if I exceed this number of rounds I also start to lose my matches and points, so I quit. I have also golfed in real life for 8 hours so I know that I can golf with the wii for 6 to 8 hours (I have never done this with the Wii). I can jog for about 35 to 40 minutes in real life, so I limit myself to jogging for 35 to 40 minutes on the wii, and the list goes on.
Go out and have fun with your new Nintendo Games. I will be having fun.