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November 25, 2020 6 min read

Maybe some gamers will just admit it’s normal to have headaches after long hours of a gaming session. To them, this is an unavoidable consequence of the mentally draining and physically taxing requirement of the sports. But as the game becomes more intense, the headache becomes too debilitating as well. What if it’s not really just a simple headache? This article will help you differentiate the type of headaches you might be experiencing and offer solutions so you can continue with your sports and play with your “A” game!

What Is A Headache?

Headaches are an unpleasant sensation of pains in the head that can cause pressure and aching and ranges from mild to severe. It is an extremely common condition affecting the nervous system, having a 48.9% prevalence among the general population (Stovner et al., 2007). A high prevalence was also reported among adolescent individuals, particularly in those with excessive exposure to electronic devices, such as computers and videogames (Xavier et al., 2015). Primary-type headaches are common and categorized as tension-type, cluster, and migraine, with tension-type headache and migraine being the most prevalent at 60-80% and 15% of the general population, respectively (Steiner et al., 2003). In gaming, three types of headaches are described, namely these two prevalent types and the cervicogenic-type headache. These are the focus of this discussion as these relate to the gaming population.

Tension-Type Headache

The pain associated with tension headache (TTH) is an aching or pressure, often described as a feeling of a tight band around the head. Although it is the most common of all the types of headaches, its cause is not well understood. However, stress is considered a trigger, with the associated muscle tenderness being one of the symptoms that may cause a headache. You may be experiencing a tension-type headache if you have the following:

  • Dull, aching head pain on both sides of your head.
  • The headache is not severe.
  • A sensation of tightness pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head.
  • Tenderness and tightness on the scalp, neck, and shoulder muscles.

Migraine

Migraine ranks second to TTH  as the most common form of headache. Usually one-sided, it causes a throbbing or pulsating sensation, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. It can be severe that it may affect daily activities, as such may worsen the symptoms. An aura may present as a warning of its onset and describ as flashes of lights or blind spots, numbness, or tingling sensation on either side of the face, arm or leg, or speech difficulty. The most common symptoms of migraine are:

  • Moderate to severe throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head.
  • Headache is aggravated with physical exertion.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or blind spots.
  • Tingling sensation in the face or arms.
  • You may experience an aura (vision of dots, lines, flashes of lights).
  • Sensitivity to sound and smell.
  • Pain around the eyes or temples.
  • Tender scalp.
  • Stiff or tender neck.

Cervicogenic Headache

The cervicogenic headache begins in the neck and the back of the head, radiating to the forehead. Cervicogenic headaches result from structural problems in the cervical spine, specifically the second and third cervical vertebra. This may be the reason why certain sudden movements of the neck can trigger this type. People who are at most risk are those who engage in activities that involve straining the neck after holding it in a prolonged static posture, such as in eSports athletes. Some other symptoms of a cervicogenic headache include:

  • Headache on one side of the face or head, starting from the back and radiating toward the front.
  • Headache that is triggered by certain neck movements or positions.
  • Neck pain and stiffness with limited motions.
  • Pain around the eyes, blurred vision.
  • Pain in the neck, shoulder, or arm.
  • Sensitivity to light and noise

3 Stretching Exercises You Can Do While Sitting on a Game to Prevent Gaming Headaches

One of the common reasons for gaming headaches is the tightness of the deep muscles at the back of the neck, known as the suboccipital muscles. These are the muscles that get strained when you place your neck in your typical gaming posture, with your head placed way more forward. Over time, tension from these muscles due to prolonged faulty posture may cause impingement of the underlying nerves, which then result in headache. Addressing this issue with stretching exercises can help in alleviating pain from poor neck posture as well as gaming headaches.

Suboccipital Muscles Stretch 1 (Flexion)

  1. Place your clasped hands at the back of your head.
  2. Tuck your chin into the front of your neck.
  3. With your clasped hands, push your head down and forward until feeling a stretch at the back of your neck and right at the base of the skull.

Suboccipital Muscles Stretch 1 (Lateral Flexion)

  1. Perform a chin tuck.
  2. Bend your head on one side.
  3. Back to starting position, and then switch to the other side.

Suboccipital Muscles Stretch 1 (Rotation)

  1. Place your one hand on your chin and do a chin tuck.
  2. Rotate your neck on the same side as that hand.
  3. With your other hand, push the base of your skull so that your head moves slightly forward and down.

NOTE: Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat three times.

Ease the Pain from Headache with Recovapro

If you’re experiencing headaches, your suboccipital muscles may be tight and causing a headache.  Recovapro can ease out the tension from these muscles by relaxing these muscles via its massaging effect, enhancing blood flow, and increasing their flexibility.

STATIC COMPRESSION WITH HEAD IN NEUTRAL POSITION

  • Using the round head attachment, move the Recovapromassage gun up and down the back of your neck on one side, starting from the base of the skull where the muscles are attached. Choose a low intensity between 1 and 2.
  • Feel for any tender spots right at the base of your skull as this is the most often site of maximal tenderness and which may be causing the headache. Hold the gun with more pressure over a knot until tension release is felt.
  • You may continue applying the gun over your upper traps (nape) area for a more relaxing effect.
  • Perform the same on the other side.
  • Apply vibration therapy for a minimum of 30 seconds on each side.
  • End your session with stretching exercises as described above.

STATIC COMPRESSION WITH HEAD ROTATED ON ONE SIDE

  • Same procedure as above but with the head rotated on one side.
  • This allows variation in the amount of pressure applied to the suboccipital muscles.

THE TAKEAWAY:There’s nothing wrong about being serious in the sport that you love, be it an actual physical sport or an eSport. This is how every game is played. You’ll need to devote your time and full effort to grow and succeed in every game. But being too committed by not having to go to rest and sleep when you need to could ruin everything and be an unfortunate end to your health and career. Remember, it’s not just a game against a gamer or an opponent but also a game against the gaming itself-your overall mental and physical form also matters. You have to battle the threats on your health as well, or you’ll get yourself a headache not just on developing a tactic against your competition alone, but the headache by playing the game too seriously and carelessly.

REFERENCES:

Steiner, T. J., Scher, A. I., Stewart, W. F., Kolodner, K., Liberman, J., & Lipton, R. B. (2003). The prevalence and disability burden of adult migraine in England and their relationships to age, gender and ethnicity. Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache, 23(7), 519–527. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1468-2982.2003.00568.x

Xavier, M. K., Pitangui, A. C., Silva, G. R., Oliveira, V. M., Beltrão, N. B., & Araújo, R. C. (2015). Prevalence of headache in adolescents and association with use of computer and videogames. Ciencia & saude coletiva, 20(11), 3477–3486. https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-812320152011.19272014

Stovner, L. j., Hagen, K., Jensen, R., Katsarava, Z., Lipton, R., Scher, A., Steiner, T., & Zwart, J. A. (2007). The global burden of headache: a documentation of headache prevalence and disability worldwide. Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache, 27(3), 193–210. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2982.2007.01288.x


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