Have you got a Wii problem?
One of Christmas 2008’s biggest selling games console was the Nintendo Wii. Current estimated sales figures for Europe since its launch in December 2006 stand at 6 million. In the very unlikely event that you have not seen or heard about this games console, it is more interactive than previous Nintendo products and indeed any competitors. Its main difference is the fact that it uses wireless wands as controllers. These wands are motion sensitive and allow the user to perform a range of real life tasks from pumping up a ball (up-and down hand pump action) to more varied movements including sports such as tennis, boxing, bowling, golf etc. The players movements are then mimicked by your character on screen. This is great fun and unlike other games consoles, very amusing to watch others compete and has considerable health benefits such as improved cardiovascular fitness. There are two player options which allow players to play together or compete against each other. The latter of the two can bring out the competitive nature in people.
A major advantage of the unit is it gets the user physically active. In fact some UK schools have even introduced it for P.E lessons to get children exercising. Nintendo state that there most active game is boxing and can burn 121 calories in just 15 minutes. This compares favourably with activities such as running which burns approximately 145 calories in 15 minutes.
At Bodymotion Chiropractic Clinic, I first became aware of the Wii when treating a 60 year old gentleman for acute low back pain last August. He explained how the injury occurred while playing “Tiger Woods Golf” and chipping out of a deep bunker. Whilst the gentlemen saw the funny side of the injury, he had been unable to stand upright since and was side bent to the right. This he didn’t find so amusing. Even more surprising was the fact that this gentleman normally played golf twice a week and had never experience an episode like this before.
Since this patient, I have treated 6 adult cases of Wii related injuries. The most common complaint is tendonitis in the shoulder following boxing and tennis. One of my patients even had a black eye surprisingly not from the boxing but from the tennis. He had been caught by his opponents’ wand (controller) whilst performing a serve. With the exception of golf, in every case the patient didn’t perform any warm up, hadn’t played the sport for more than two years and had consumed alcohol.
These Wii related injuries have now become so frequent that there is even a website which shows videos of them occurring called www.wiiinjury.com
Nintendo is fully aware of the injury potential with the Wii console. They have now modified the controller straps and also introduced rubber jackets for the controllers which act as cushions both for the user and controller. There are also safety reminders before you start to play the games.
Wii rubber jacket
At the Bodymotion, we believe that prevention of injury is paramount. I would therefore like to make the following recommendations when using the Nintendo Wii and other game consoles:
Make sure there is enough space around you prior to playing and take into account that your position will not be static but that you will drift from your starting point at the beginning of the game. Furthermore, double the space provided if there are two players. It is not enough just to clear arm space for objects such as light shades but floor space must also be cleared from other items such as coffee tables and rugs.
This should be raised or tilted up if below eye level and down if above. If you have a flat screen panel TV please ensure it is stable as it may get knocked during play.
This should include activities which utilise the larger muscles groups to raise the heart rate such as arm swings and jogging on the spot. It’s also a good idea to mobilise your joints by starting off with shallow movements and getting larger e.g. shoulder shrugs. The final part of the warm up should be more game specific and involve performing the movement of the intended game repeatedly but to a lesser intensity and range to ensure the body is ready to play; similar to a golfer performing shallow practice swings.
For further information regarding specific exercises, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Attach the controller firmly to the wrist using the strap and fastened the clip. Hold the controller tightly and stand at least 3ft from the television.
Be careful if you have had an alcoholic drink as your co-ordination and balance may not be as good as usual.
Although the controllers are incredibly sensitive, it is not the same as performing the real life activity therefore less force and technique is required.
Be careful, over zealous movements can results in injury. Always remember
“Win as if you are used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change”. Ralphe Waldo Emerson.
Break every 15 minutes from playing and try changing games every 45 minutes to one which requires a very different movement pattern. This should help reduce fatigue related injury and repetitive strain disorders.
Keep well hydrated especially if drinking alcohol.
Repeat warm-up routine but gradually reduce intensity.
At Bodymotion, we believe the Wii to be an excellent step in the right direction for computer gaming as it has a whole host of benefits including more social interaction, improvements in balance and co-ordination and it creates physical exercise out of an activity which is otherwise sedentary. Indeed Nintendo are launching Wii fit in March which will introduce a balance board for accompanying exercise games.