Pokemon Go, a new mobile gaming app, has kids and adults alike running from neighborhood to neighborhood, stopping at parks, churches, and other landmarks to heed the irresistible call to “catch ’em all.”
The interactive collecting game, developed by Niantic and the Pokemon Company, is delighting its millennial users who remember the characters from after school cartoons, video games, and trading cards. Users “see” the Pokemon appear in the environment right before them on the phone’s screen. When you spot that Pikachu hanging out on the bench at the dog park, you use the game’s interface to “catch” him.
However, walking around with your eyes pointed at your phone’s screen instead of your surroundings breeds hazardous situations. The game has been a major cause of injury for even the most experienced trainers across the country, and if you’re not careful, it could be dangerous for Mewtwo!
Niantic added a warning to the game’s loading screen reminding players to be mindful of their surroundings, but for some, the game can get so engrossing that they stop paying attention.
Tips for safe Poke-play
Watch your step out there! Your screen’s camera view can’t capture everything, and with your eyes firmly fixed on the prize, your peripheral vision and depth perception are severely impaired. Here are some tips for PoGoing safely.
Don’t play at night.
“Not even 30 minutes after the release last night,” wrote Reddit user Amalthea, “I slipped and fell down a ditch. Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog.” Stick to Seaking Pokemon only during the daylight.
Walk with caution.
We’ve already seen a few patients at University Foot and Ankle Institute who have sustained injuries. Some were minor, while others were pretty serious. “I had a patient who had a stress fracture and another with an ankle sprain,” said Dr. Bob Baravarian. “They weren’t paying attention and stepped off a curb.” Go Slowbro. Look up from your screen every few seconds. Don’t rely on your screen to show you when you’re about to hit some uneven terrain.
Don’t play while riding a bike or driving a car.
Another staff member at UFAI said, “My son rode his bike into a tree while playing. He’s 14. It was a proud mom moment.” Don’t take a Chansey with your life! PoGo only while walking.
More exercise, more stress injuries
On the brighter side, doctors have hailed the game for getting its users outside and exercising. Most game systems are played indoors on couches and bedroom floors, but since the launch of Pokemon Go, users have increased their number of daily steps by an average of 63%, according to the fitness tracker company Jawbone. No doubt the game has motivated many previously sedentary users to get active!
If you’ve recently joined the Pokemon Go craze and are getting much more exercise than normal, be mindful of repetitive strain injuries. Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are two stress injuries that are caused by a sudden, steep increase in physical activity.
Keep stress injuries at bay
Make sure you’re wearing good, quality walking shoes with plenty of padding and arch support.
Stretch before and after walking to keep your muscles and tendons limber. This will also help with muscle soreness.
If you’re experiencing pain and inflammation in your calves or the arches of your feet, it might be time to make like Snorlax and rest. Giving your body the rest it needs to heal is the best prevention and treatment for repetitive stress injuries.
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