No Pain, No Gain: The Benefits and Hazards of Full Time Gaming

Going pro is every gamer’s dream. Getting paid to show off your skills in virtual tournaments is a testament to your skill, hard work, and dedication to the title that you choose to play. 

Playing in professional eSports leagues can be lucrative, too. Gamers like N0tail have won over $7 million in a single tournament, while Rocket League tournaments regularly pay out prize money of over $3,000. 

However, gaming full-time will take a toll on your physical and mental health. Like any athlete, you’ll have to sacrifice more than your time if you want to rise to the top and draw in serious earnings. You may even find that playing FPS games and RTS titles can lead to chronic conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and stenosing tenosynovitis.

Physical Conditions

Gaming full-time may increase your reaction times and get your heart racing. However, there aren’t many physical benefits associated with playing eSports full-time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — you can always work out in your free time — but you should be aware of the physical issues that are associated with gaming before you commit to a life of quick scoping and quick rotations. 


Recent research from the University of Harvard suggests that relentless gaming can cause conditions like: 

  • Carpal Tunnel: Inflammation of the wrist which leads to pain and numbness
  • Gamer’s Thumb: “Nintendinitis” occurs when the tendons surrounding the thumb become inflamed. This can lead to swelling and reduce mobility in your fingers. 
  • Stenosing Tenosynovitis: “Trigger Finger” can limit your ability to extend your fingers and leave your hand in a claw-like position. 
  • Obesity: Gaming can mess with your ability to regulate your food intake. Your body, believing it is under stress, demands more food even though you haven’t been moving. This can cause a host of long-term health issues

It’s worth pointing out that all sports come with some level of physical risk. Soccer players that compete in long seasons often report joint pain in later life, football players are at a heightened risk of CTE, and basketballers can always be victims of a rolled ankle or bad fall. 

As a gamer, you’ll largely have to accept the potential risks of going pro. However, a few small tweaks to your setup can mitigate your risk and help you overcome chronic pain. 

Overcoming Chronic Pain

No gamer wants to stop their sessions when their hand starts to cramp. However, if you’re serious about full time gaming, you may need to take a step away from the screen to let your body recover. 

Prepare for your next marathon session by creating an ergonomic station that supports your posture and helps you avoid chronic conditions like tension headaches and digestive issues. An ergonomic setup should help you achieve a neutral spine and good head positioning. 

Consider working with a physio if you do start to experience chronic pain. A physio can help you work through chronic pain by tracking your health data with wearables and creating a health plan designed to improve your strength. When you’re gaming, try to avoid processed foods as these may exacerbate inflammation in the body. Instead, opt for a nutritious whole-food diet to fuel you through the longest of sessions. 

Mental Health

Gaming can significantly improve your mental health and help you overcome life’s challenges. Puzzle games, like Portal and Myst, can improve your memory, boost your cognitive function, and help you form strong bonds with your family and friends. 

However, full time gaming can put a strain on your mental well-being. You may find yourself worrying excessively about your performance and perception if you’re constantly playing in tournaments and competitive leagues. This is understandable, as your income is dependent on your ability to make the right decisions and perform well under pressure. 

You may find that your mental health starts to crumble if you can’t stop gaming, too. Researchers from the University of Oxford recently found that gamers who felt they had to play reported worse mental health than those who played when they wanted to. Left unchecked, video games can harm your mental health and lead to issues like: 

  • Flawed coping strategies
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loneliness
  • Negative thought patterns 

Of course, some level of sacrifice is necessary if you want to go pro as a gamer. Just like any other kind of athlete, you will have to train hard even when your motivation is waning. The key, however, is to adopt a resilient “can-do” attitude to practice sessions and live tournaments. 

Sport Psychology 

If you plan on going pro, consider teaming up with groups like the Association of Esports Psychology (AEP). Esport psychology is still an emerging field, but professional help can help you become more resilient and improve your overall well-being. 

Groups like the AEP can improve your in-game performance, too. The AEP recently helped Malmö FF win the Swedish FIFA championship and can use similar methods to help you improve your abilities. Groups like the AEP use a science-backed approach to help with common mental health challenges like: 

  • Handling “tilt”
  • Stress management
  • Improving communication 
  • Responding to setbacks

Being able to manage the negative emotions associated with gaming will improve your outlook and improve your long-term performance. You’ll be far more motivated to train when you can handle “tilt” and maintain a productive work-life balance. 


Going pro is the goal for many gamers. However, full time gaming can put a serious strain on your mental and physical health. Combat the onset of conditions like social isolation and trigger thumb by taking a proactive approach to your health and well-being. Bring in professional consultants to help you along the way and remember to make lifestyle changes to boost your performance.

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