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Wii Warriors Outnumber Weekend Warriors in the Doctor’s Office

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Not long ago, one of Coach Nicole’s blogs generated a pretty interesting discussion about how playing Wii Fit games compared to “real” exercise.

Can lurching across your living room carpet, remote in hand, to return a vicious topspin forehand from your TV set ever compare to a real game of tennis, with racquet, ball, and real life opponent?

That’s a question we may have to leave to the philosophers and sports purists among us to decide.

In the meantime, though, it’s becoming pretty clear to doctors everywhere that Wii Fit sports can generate just as many sports injuries as the real thing, and probably even more. In fact, according to this article, “Wii Warriors” have been turning up in doctor’s offices lately in even greater numbers than the Weekend Warriors of earlier generations, and doctors are beginning to develop a special vocabulary to describe their problems. It’s not just “tendinitis” these days—it’s “Nintendinitis.”

Is this just because more people are using Wii Fit for exercise, or is there something about these “virtual” sports that makes them even more likely to cause injury?

According to Dr. Brian Halpern, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, it’s probably a combination of both factors. With over 10 million Wii sales in the last couple years, and 6.5 million Wii Fit on top of that, there's no doubt that "virtual exercise" is a major player on the exercise scene these days. And that's a good thing if it means more people are actually doing exercise they wouldn't do otherwise. But it's also not the whole story--injuries related to Wii Fit activities are also up.

One problem is that Wii Warriors often play games designed for large, open spaces in the confined space of their living rooms. This can lead to traumatic injuries like twisted knees and sprained ankles. You can’t run to return a shot the same way you can outdoors if there’s a wall or a dining table 5 feet away, or a bunch of kid’s toys all over the place. But that’s your natural instinct, and if you artificially limit your natural range of motion, you’re probably going to put unnatural pressures on certain muscles, ligaments, tendons, or joints, and greatly increase the risk of injuring yourself.

Another common problem is that, once people figure out that the Wii Fit remote lets you return a tennis shot or bowl a ball with just a flick of your wrist instead of the full motions required in “real life,” it’s very easy to set yourself up for problems like tennis elbow. These kinds of injuries happen exactly when you concentrate the force of a normal arm/shoulder swing into movements using only the small muscles of your forearm.

But probably the most common risk is due to simple overuse. The same convenience and ease of use that make these games so popular also make it easy to overdo things without adequate preparation. You don't need to find a partner, worry about the weather, stick to a certain schedule, or stop when your court time is up. In fact, it's so easy to get absorbed in these activities that you can easily spend a lot more time on them then you might plan.

But that doesn't mean your body can absorb all this new activity without consequences. You can't go from couch potato to Wii Fit Tennis maven or boxing champ overnight, without paying your dues, any more than you can do that in "real life" without training and practice.

How about you? Have you had any injuries or problems with Wii Fit exercise like those described above? What do you do to prepare yourself for your workouts, to avoid these problems?

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i love the wii. i like the fat little character that is me and i look forward to her getting slimmer along with me as i (we) lose weight. Report
I abolutely love my Wii. It is my primary source for working out, using the EA Sports Active 2 (nearly daily) and the Wii Fit Plus occassionally. I have lost 80 lbs using the Active as my primary means of working out.

The Active comes with videos showing the users how to perform each exercise as well as 3 intensity levels (beginner/easy, medium and hard). Their 3 week cardio and 9 week full programs require you to take rest days and increases in intensity for all levels as you progress. You can also make your own customized workouts (I have a step aerobis workout I do on off days for extra cardio), do pre-programmed workouts, etc. The best thing about this program is it constantly changes up the workouts so you are never doing the same thing day after day and are always challenging your body - in a boot camp style.

Another huge benefit for me - I can do it all at home before work!!! I don't have time to go to a gym/classes all the time w/a full time job, running 3 kids to and from activities 6 days/week and a husband whose job requires a lot of travel. I have found that I stay more committed to my workouts using the Wii than I do w/just videos (although I also use some vidoes on my off-days).

I also feel the other Wii games (bowling, boxing, tennis, snowboarding, etc.) are great b/c they can get everyone in the family moving and having fun together. This doesn't mean we do a full day marathon, but 30 min - 1 hour of Wii fun is way better than an hour of sitting around the TV!

I stongly support the use of the Wii for workouts/games. However, as with any exercise program, you have to listen to your body and not over do it and make sure you have the room required for whatever game/workout you are doing! Always educate yourself about the exercise program/game before jumping right in! Report
Key point is to make sure not exercising on a concrete floor under carpet.. This can do long term spinal injuries, like I got.. Actually I am not a fan, the running program is not as good as doing the real thing, there is elements called wind factor, hills and uneven surfaces.. People I saw in consumer programs were very disappointed with their effort outside, when challenged to go for a real run... Many couldn't do it or finish what equalled to the program time.. Report
I love my Wii, and have Wii Fit and Wii Active. I like Wii Active because of the way you can tailor workouts, and make it seem like a workout instead of a string of disconnected activities. I like Wii Fit for the balance & coordination games. It's not perfect; I have knee problems and a lot of the exercises/workouts seem to really stress the knees, I just try to be aware & choose wisely. But overall it's great - definitely gives me a way to do SOMETHING no matter the time of day or weather, and it's fun. Plus - my godson thinks it's cool that I have Wii, we play some things over the internet that way even though we live 300 miles apart. Report
I have a Wii fit and Wii fit plus. I LOVE them. I have never been injured and I do it 2-3 times a week to mix up my work outs. Things like the skateboarding, running and hoola hooping really give me a workout. Report
Wii Fit is fun. I know I did some exercises on my cousan's Wii before I started exercising everyday that I never would have done otherwise but like all things you have to know your body's limitations. My cousan is one of the Wii warriors who ended up in the doctors office with a pulled muscle. I think getting out in the open air and sunlight can help motivate you to move more. Report
The first day I had my Wii fit I did it all...and couldn't walk the next day. A few months ago I purchased Walk It Out and thought "I'll just do it for 10 minutes to try it". 2 hours later I was in self imposed pt for 2 weeks to get my knee to stop throbbing from the running motion. It's easy to say "this is a game" and not realize that this is having an impact on your body. Report
I love my Wii. I have gotten hurt though, especially soreness in my lower back. I think this was from doing the hula hoop excesively. It gets me moving, though when I won't do anything else. I am learning how to be more careful and appreciate this article. Report
Two days having the wii and I already have pulled a muscle in my leg playing tennis..... oh my Report
I like the Wii because it finally helped get me moving! Report
I couldn't get into the Wii Fit. I found the workouts boring, but I also found that a lot of the Yoga poses and the hula hoop really encouraged me to have bad form. Many of the exercises were really rough on my knees and I've never had knee pain from exercise before. I especially didn't like using the balance board for yoga and getting "graded" on it. I took hatha yoga for years and we never stood perfectly still. I can stand perfectly still in The Dancer if I just don't pick a challenging angle and do the pose only half-way, but I wouldn't get a good stretch that way. Yoga is full of isometric stretches and you should be wiggling a little as you push and pull your muscles to do more work. My teachers constantly say things like "relax into the pose" and "move forward as you breathe out".

Still, I think that exercising with a video game is a great idea and I'm looking forward to seeing what the genre develops into. Report
If you use the Wii Fit or any of the Wii exercise type games, just be wise about how you use it and do warm up's and cool downs as if you were exercising in a gym or going for a jog. It's common sense. Sorry, just, the Wii Fit and other sports games have been a god-send for me since I am disabled and can't get out to the gym or do normal exercising. I know it's not as intense as going to the gym, but it's better than nothing! Report
I have to say that with any exercise whether indoor or outdoor, you stand to gain the possiblilty of having injury to a certain spot or body part. My knees ache me from time to time, but it's not the Wii fault. It's me pushing myself, and not stretching all the time as I should before I begin my workout. Also not icing them when I finish. You making statements about how the Wii Fit, Fitness Coach, and Active limits you to confined are you saying that everyone should exercise outdoors, in an overcrowded gym, or just in a more spacious area period. Or, are you just bashing Nintendo for creating what you probably think is a waste of time or money. Well let's argue the makers of these DVD's from BeachBody or any other network...Walk Away The Pounds...These you can do in the convienence of your own home, where, let's not forget , there's a limited amount of space.
I think that you all are missing the most important factor in this matter. People are exercising more. Purchasing the Wii, Wii Fit, Fitness Coach, all of this is a step in the right direction. If you are so concern with injury, then talk with Nintendo, adn see if they can come up with some kind of How to disc with their games, so that this will ensure the exercise is being done appropriately, with less chance of injury.
STOP BASHING THE MAKERS OF Wii...My body may be sore from time to time with the challenges that I put myself thru, but I have gotten results from this.

One Less Obese Person In The World Report
When I first got my wii, I played it long and hard and the next day I hurt so bad I felt like I could barley move. lol I kept playing though and eventually my body got used to it and didn't hurt anymore. Report
No injuries, but I have seen on YouTube of people throwing the remote into their TV Set and breaking it, because the strap broke on their wrist. I made sure mine doesn't do that. Report
After the article i am definitely interested in purchasing this wii. Report
I bought my Wii and Wii Fit a little over a month ago and primarily for all of the active games and fitness options. Yes, the Wii Fit is easier than going out and running a marathon, but I don't understand why people wouldn't consider it to be real exercise. Perhaps it's not advanced exercise, but it's definitely exercise.

I use the Wii Fit each day for 30 minutes (into the Wii Fit bank) as a sort of warmup. I've started focusing on the yoga for one day, strength for the next, and aerobics for the next. I'll add a balance game in here and there.

After the 30 minutes is up, I do another 30 minutes of My Fitness Coach with Maya. My Fitness Coach is definitely a workout and it can be more interesting than DVD's because it is different each day.

Wii Sports is fun but I haven't had much time for it due to spending so much time on Wii Fit and My Fitness Coach.

Since I love computer and video games, I don't get bored with these and Wii Fit just commended me today for it being 5 weeks and I haven't missed a single day. I'm also up to the gold trophy on My Fitness Coach, though I haven't yet unlocked all of the locations and music.

One doesn't have to like video games to enjoy the Wii. The active games aren't really games in the traditional sense. Don't knock it until you actually try it. :)

I did strain my left shoulder a bit last week in My Fitness Coach as I was attempting to do lateral raises with weights that were too heavy. Not the Wii's fault though.

I'm also very interested in the Gold's Cardio game as well as the EA interactive game coming out this month. Report
I have had my wii fit now for about 1 month and I use it every day at least twice a day for about 2 hours. I may feel soar but have not had ny real injuries from it. I think it is great. Report
I have had my wii fit for only 10 days now and I love it. I work out for about half an hour a day doing different activities everyday.
After the first day, I was sore and didn't want to look at anything nintendo for abotu 24-48 hours, but I got over it. I really enjoy the free step since I can watch tv while doing some steps.
My 12 year old boys enjoy the Wii Fit as well and it gets them off the couch, although they do play alot of sports so they do mostly the balance games.
The best thing about the Wii Fit is that it has gotten my husband off his butt and getting some exercise. He plays alot of video games and is not physically active. He needs to lose some weight and it has become a challenge to get him active. At least this video game gets him moving. He has already lost 1.5 pounds in the 10 days he has been using it. Report
I've have had the Wii for a while and it does tend to get intense. Especially the boxing if I'm stressed about something. I just got my Wii fit past week and have not had time yet to set it up. I will be sure to take this article to heart. Report
With the prices at my local gym going from juuuust this side of reasonable to exorbitant, my husband and I picked up a Wii Fit. Must say, I'm quite pleased with it. I was in reasonable shape to begin with, so I wasn't starting from scratch. I made sure to clear out plenty of space in front of our TV, and I make sure I wear workout clothes so I'm in the proper "workout" mindset. I take the time to warm up by doing some of the lighter "yoga" exercises followed by 5 minutes of the Step Plus. Then I go on to strength training/more intense "yoga" for 20-30 minutes, followed by a sensible cooldown. I think the key here is to listen to your body and treat Wii Fit as you would any other workout at the gym.

I put yoga in quotations because, as someone who has practised yoga on and off for several years, I find it a bit irritating to reduce some of the postures to promoting "hip toning" and "waist-stretching". It oversimplifies it. Some of the poses are also poorly thought-out or badly aligned, which could lead to injuries. In particular, triangle pose and downward facing dog are particularly bad. The foot alignment on warrior is also slightly off, but I've practised long enough to know how to correct it. Other people are likely not as knowledgable.

That said, I do like Wii Fit. It's a nice way to exercise at home, and anything to get people off their butts and being active is a good thing. The virtual running won't replace going outdoors to the park for me, but the strength training is a reasonable fascimile for me and the hubby since being priced out of our local gym. Report
I live in an area where going out and doing the 'REAL' thing can only happen for a few months. There is always snow on the ground and the tempature usually does not get above freezing. I have two small kids, no money for a gym membership plus the cost of daycare ( which would be about 40 dollars for both of them) and only room for one larger excercise equipment. The wii gives me great exercise and gets the family into motion. I have been doing the wii fit and I love it. I get a good work out and my heart going. I use my pedometer to make sure everythin is accurate when I am doing the steps or running. It really is a good thing for the whole family. I have been doing the cardio since august and I have lost almost 20 lbs. I dont know any other GAME you could lose 20 lbs from. I combine it with some of the sp videos and exersises and do it just about everyday.
If we cant go out side and do the real thing, we have to get our butts of the couch some how and it is a great way to really get the family involved in a healthy lifestyle. Report
My husband and I have been looking at the Wii system for some time and I have really wanted the Fit package. After reading your comments, I think we will go ahead and get one - we spend more money on unused gym memberships, home equipment and satellite TV to pay for the Wii several times over. Thanks for the heads up on starting out slow. Report
I've never had a problem with Wii games, because I've only played on a Wii once. I did notice a bit of strain in my shoulders after getting my butt handed to me by my 4-year-old nephew in Wii Tennis, though. The only time I've ever injured myself playing a game was when I fell of a Dance Dance Revolution pad at a friend's party, and almost broke my ankle. I gave it a nasty sprain, and was on crutches for a couple of weeks afterwards. It wasn't pretty. Report
The only problems i've had with the Wii is the kids hogging it, lol. But it's always in fun and the kids do their own little competitions on it to beat each other on things. Oh and the other problem is, we have way to much fun when we use it at family get togethers. Report
I got the wii fit for x-mas and my whole family use it to work out Report
Bought the wii fit 3 weeks ago. I now make sure I exercize 30 min a day it help me get off my but. My daughter 20 years old now brings her friends over and they play also. The friends are over weight and this helps them without feeling that people are watching. Report
We got our WII just before Thanksgiving and that made a whole lot of difference to us. Instead of just watching the football games the whole family got involved in WII touraments. After 5 months we still get together with our in-laws at least every over weekend. Since we aren't just sitting around eating it has helped all of us drop a few pounds and still have a lot of fun together Report
I have a wii for over a year now. There are no injuries to report. I love the games and exercise I get from it. Report
We have had our Wii for over a year now and no injuries here. We only allow use on the weekends or during school breaks though. I don't want the kids playing too much that they don't ever get outside or ignore their homework.
I sometimes sneak on during the day when they are at school if I can find the time as a student myself! Report
I use the Wii Fit and love it. I love trying to beat my own scores and encourage everyone else in the house to do it so we can compete. None of us have been hurt and I have been using it for 3 months. It keeps me motivated to use it everyday. I also go the My fitness coach. It doesn't use the balance board though, but has several work outs available and asks you as you are working out whether it was no sweat, working hard, or can't keep up and then it adjusts your next work out accordingly. Whatever it takes to get you moving is good as far as I'm concerned. If I can get out that's great too, but I don't have anyone to do it with and it's not much fun to walk alone. Report
I bought a wii for christmas this year, turns out my daughter & I aren't "video game people" and it's just neglected :( Report
I have the new energy saving, green MiiSidewalk. I just step outside my front door and start walking. I get a great view, friendly neighbors, occasional dog and other than a few blisters, no injuries. It did malfunction during the winter snow... I guess next winter I'll have to upgrade to MiiStairs. Report
If Wii can help you get up and get motivated to improve your health more power to you, but remember to still get outside and smell the roses. You still need fresh air and sunlight to stay healthy too.

Hopefully it don't end up never being used and put into someone closet like my stepdaughters boy I'm sure glad we didn't buy her those games. I wouldn't mind if they gave it to us though, that would be nice :-) Report
We don't have one either, but our grandkids do. It's a pretty sad day when an over zealious 4-year-old can beat four adults in bowling!!! It's on my "rewards" list. Report
I have the Wii Fit. I bought it about 3 weeks ago and attribute the fact that it is FUN exercise to what has kept me motivated to get off my butt and work out just about every day. Even when I don't use the Wii Fit for the exercise itself, keeping track of my daily checkin has been enough to get me to do SOMEthing that day, that I would not otherwise have done. Report
I don't have one but the grand kids do. It's fun playing some of the games with them. Some of the games are pretty hard on the body! I did the running Olympics. OMG! Report
Been at it over a year. Not one injury. Of course I started slow and have plenty of room. My favorites are the Gold's gym boxing and tennis. I lost interest in bowling after hitting 300 games back to back. Also, I dress as if I'm going to the gym. Report
I do not have a wii but I would love to try the wii fit program.
Maybe one day I can afford one.

My son told me there is a lot of problem with that control.
Maybe they need to improve on the control.
The people who plays the wii fit or games just have to be more careful and not get so aggressive when playing the wii games.

I'm just saying. Report
I have not been able to afford the wii at this time, so I have not experienced the injuries as of yet. This will help me to be sure to be careful should the day come that I afford the opportunity. Report
The only injury I've sustained working on the WiiFit was my own fault. I have a spinal injury (it’s the main reason I’m working on the WiiFit instead of an actual gym), and I foolishly attempted the yoga pose downward-facing-dog. I was useless for about three days. I won’t be doing THAT again. But I’ve become a Wii tennis “pro,” and I don’t have any overuse injuries I’m aware of. Report
I've passed this blog on to my son and daughter-in-law who were planning on getting the WII to do workouts. Thanks for the 411. Report
I have played my son and daughters Wii games with them and fell in love with the system I now am waiting for mine to be delivered. This article will make me pay more attention to NOT getting hurt. You do get a good workout with the sport games and I can hardly wait to check out the fit stuff. Report
I've heard Wii is totally awesome. If I had a tv and the funds to purchase Wii I would. Although I do practice yoga at home and have been practicing for years, except lately I'm on the computer more. Need to do more yoga! So you Wii people enjoy your Wii yoga for me! take care. Report
My husband got a Wii Fit and Wii Sport for me for Christmas. I absolutely love it. I haven't suffered any injuries from using it because I warm up before beginning to exercise. We've just been through one of the worst winters since we moved to North Dakota 17 years ago, and having the Wii was a lifesaver. There is no way I could get outside to exercise and I don't belong to a gym. I was getting tired of the collection of exercise DVDs I have and the Wii gave me some new and fun ways to exercise. I especially like the Wii Fit Free Run which allows me to jog in place in my living room for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. I usually flip over to the TV and watch the news while I'm running so I have something else to focus on. Report
I really need to get back on mine, but I think with any exercise you need to be smart. But they also need to look at all the obesity problems that are a result of computer and other video games Report
We got Wii and Wii Fit back in late February. After a very long winter (we had snow on the ground by the foot for almost two months solid), I really craved being able to get active. Plus, Wii Fit allowed me the ability to quickly switch from "Mom" to a 1yo to athlete without grabbing a bunch of equipment and going to the gym or a special court. Unfortunately, I have experienced some aches and pains from the Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum which ultimately meant I had to quit the rest of the programs until I get orthotics.

The question remains...would I have experienced this pain/injury without Wii? Yes, but...I would probably have never had the guts at my current weight to try to take on Jillian Michaels' or tennis in real life. Being protected within my home gave me the guts to try out exercises I might not try otherwise.

You can talk down the Wii, but if it gets a generation that is used to being glued to their seat up and moving, isn't that awesome? kids and I play this together. Anything that can bring teens, preteens, and tweens out of their rooms to hang with Mom can't be all bad! Report
First off, please remember that "Wii Fit" is just a game (?) for the Wii system. It's the one with the balance board, and let's you do various fitness-related activities. "Wii Sports" is one of the first games, the one with tennis & bowling & golf & so on. It's the one that most people think of when they think of the Wii System, although "Wii Fit" is the one that was released last fall so people are more aware of it now.

I wonder how many of the Wii Fit scoffers have bought fitness videos or equipment to use at home, but somehow think that is different? I know I have a couple of walking DVDs that I never use (if the weather's nice, I'd rather do "the real thing" outside) - but I have a friend who does them a lot.

But the main reason I wanted to respond was to say that I bought DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for our Wii last year, and used it a lot, and always worked up a sweat (once I realized I should be using a slightly more advanced level) and got my heart rate going. Why would people not consider this "the real thing"? Especially since I could do this at night after my kids were in bed - hard to go out to some place for a class at that point. Report
Have to say the first time I played Wii tennis with my friend Joanne I was sore the next day! Though that was before I started SP and trying to take better care of myself! LOL Should try it now that I'm in better shape! Report
So I have a Wii, a Wii Fit, My Fitness Coach and the new Gold's Gym Cardio Workout. The only injury I have incurred with any of them is a few sore muscles that haven't been moved in awhile and (I hate to admit this, when the controller flew up when it slipped out of my sweaty hand after 2 hours of the Golds Gym workout and hit me just above the eye.) My own fault. Yes, because I overdid the exercise using muscles I don't normally move that way I was a little sore the next day. But no more so than using any of my other exercise dvds.

Love the Wii Fit and Gold's Gym Cardio workout. Don't use the sports (boxing, tennis, bowling and baseball) pack that comes with the Wii much or the My Fitness Coach. Report
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