With Valve’s new seasonal MMR reset coming Soon™, Dota players will soon be grinding ranked matches even more than usual. Raise your MMR without breaking down your hands and wrists with our 3-step guide to playing more (Dota) and hurting less (unless you’re up against AM, can’t help there).

1. Before You Start

Before you play, your warm-up should accomplish three things: increase bloodflow to your hands, engage your core for good posture, and decrease distractions. Consider it a pre-game strategy phase, minus the inevitable flame for whoever picked a fifth core instead of a support.

Here, Matt demonstrates how to set yourself up for success with a quick and easy warmup:

2. Between Each Match

Your time between matches is time to reset mentally and physically.

First: get out of your chair.

Prolonged sitting is shown to have serious health consequences down the line, but those can be avoided simply by spending time on your feet during breaks.

Second: figure out what hurts.

Are your forearms tight? Is your low back sore? Did that 80-minute comeback against megacreeps give you knots in your shoulders? Focus on what needs attention. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds. If nothing in particular hurts, prevention is never a bad idea. Try these:

Third: don’t neglect your mindset!

Try this deep breathing exercise to un-tilt and de-salt:

This exercise is designed to stretch the chest and strengthen the upper back. Start with your hands behind your head, elbows bent and forearms parallel to your head. As you take a deep breath in, filling your lungs from the belly up to the shoulders, bring your elbows back and open your chest. As you bring your elbows forward once more, breathe out.

Last: double-check your setup before sitting back down.

Make sure your chair, keyboard and mouse position all still support you in a good, ergonomics, neutral posture, like this:

Note: if your pain isn’t from tightness or tension but from inflammation or injury, you need a longer break and possibly to stop for the day. Don’t push yourself past the point of recovery.

3. After You’re Done

You survived the ranked gauntlet! Time to make sure you live to fight another day.

First, just like you did during your breaks, address what’s tight.

Stretch (We just started a new video series where we walkthrough a whole exercise routine with you! This one is specific to the wrist and hand) , self-massage, use a tennis ball or foamroller; all are good ways to address muscle tightness and tension. Don’t just pay attention to your hands and arms; consider your neck, shoulders, back, and legs as well.

If you want to get a foam roller for yourself – Matt wrote a little more about foam rolling (more specifically for your lower back, but look out for more for the rest of the body) Here’s our pick for an affordable foam roller and one we use ourselves  🙂  ->

Second, address any aches and pains that aren’t coming from just tightness.

Still tense after stretching? Use heat first (not more than 15 minutes, always with something between the heat pack and your skin), then try stretching again. If you have inflammation, swelling, or sharp/prickly pain, ice is your friend. Apply for 10-20 minutes continuously, keeping something between the pack and your skin. DON’T take the pack on/off repeatedly. You’ll first feel cold, then burning, then aching, then numbness. “Numb” for 5-8 minutes is the goal. Ice should always come last, after massage and stretching.

Just like last hit timings, it’ll take practice before these things become habitual. But as they do, you’ll find that you’re able to play more and hurt less.

(Unless you’ve got a Techies picker in your pubs. You’re on your own for that one.)

PLAY FOR LONGER, WITH LESS PAIN

Simple tips for the gaming community to prevent injuries, improve performance and live a healthy lifestyle. Join some of your favorite pros in the 1HP horde to learn how to live well to game well.

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