I suffer from occasional neck and shoulder pain, and lately it’s been real bad. I had to stop my usual workout routine in VR thanks to this stress-induced pain. It messes with sleep and everyday life. I do find lifting can help, but sometimes the pain is just too intense.
Everyone suffers from some form of chronic pain as we age. The injuries we get in our youth, like car accidents or sports injuries, always have a way of creeping back up. Sometimes I’m completely sidelined but thankfully those times are rare. When I’m unable to continue my workout routine, my eating habits quickly catch up to me.
That’s where VR comes in. With VR, I can focus on lighter experiences that work my body without too much intensity
Light, Extended Sessions for VR Recovery
Long Duration Cardio, or LIIS, is a lighter session of workout that lasts for 30-60 minutes at a time. These aren’t games means to make your heartrate shoot through the roof. They are relaxed experiences, usually focused on fun or exploration.
Here are some of my personal favorites for a LIIS routine. I’ll start with apps I use to workout my neck and shoulders, then move onto lighter activity for extended play.
I spend most of my Fallout 4 session seated. I use free locomotion and just enjoy the feeling of coasting through the world, craning my neck and head around to stretch my muscles in my shoulders and arms. Change position in game to compensate for the pain if it hurts to turn too much one way or another.
When I’m ready, I can stand and walk in place. I can use more melee weapons, or hold my arms out in front of me to create natural resistance.
Most of the Bethesda titles are perfect for this kind of gaming session. The story-based approach keeps gamers engaged, while beautiful worlds keep us motivated to explore. What’s just over that hill is probably something that will kill us, and that’s a unique kind of motivator.
Another excellent story-based LIIS title. If you can create a play space for walking, I strongly recommend doing so. It’s fun just exploring this world, doing mundane actions like opening desk drawers or putting on a new mask feel satisfying. Secrets are hidden about, so players always have something to look for. Easy to optimize, the game will work well on most VR-capable rigs but shines at higher graphics.
You can play the title seated or standing, but Arizona Sunshine’s gunplay is where the LIIS workout comes in. The natural resistance of holding guns out quickly tires your arms and shoulders. You will also need to do some light bending and stretching, so make sure to practice bending your knees if you need to squat down to find something.
Learn to job in this ridiculously silly game that tasks players with doing a simulation of a job. It’s all very boring, except that’s where the fun comes in. There are no penalties for doing zany things, so the exploration and usage of everyday objects to create hilarity keeps players engaged. Like a sandbox where everyone acts normal no matter what you do.
Just playing the game can burn up to 4 calories per minute, according to the VR Health Institute. There’s nothing too physically demanding about the game, and you won’t feel strained during your session.
Job Simulator is also a good introduction to VR. If you’re someone who is considering a headset for fitness, start with a fun app like Job Simulator. You’ll learn more about what to expect in VR, and you’ll have a great time.
Artistic applications let us explore our creative selves while getting a light LIIS workout. I first sampled TiltBrush, Google’s 3D sculpting program for VR. It uses lots of neat toolsyou can use to create unique sculptures. I’ve seen famous paintings, mountain vistas, mystical caves and more brought to life through TiltBrush.
I’m not compelled much to interact with it. The blank canvas is a little much for my creative self. I have no idea where to begin. If you’re like me, you may enjoy Kingspray. All the fun of graffitti, none of the jail time. The wide open wall is ready for your mark, what will you leave?
Both will have you stretching, bending, and using natural resistance as you clock steps finalizing your best work.
Satori Sounds simulates meditation in relaxing and exotic locations. The footage is real, and players have 360 degree access to the scenery. Soothing binaural beats, isochronic tones and Solfeggio frequencies help to relax and ease the player. Perfect to wind down after a stressful day at work.
The app is affordably priced at around $4.99, and it will gently work your neck and shoulder muscles as you move your head to soak in the views.
It’s one of plenty of meditation apps, and it’s compatible with Oculus, Vive, and Gear VR headsets.
VR as a Tool for Healing
Already, hospitals recognize the power of VR as a tool for distraction and lightly working out muscles undergoing recovery. VR Physio is basically built around improving range of motion, and testing patient progress. These benefits are already available at the consumer level in the form of LIIS games like the ones mentioned here.
LIIS games are perfect for those suffering from chronic pain. They offer an exciting adventure, virtual and physical growth, and a light workout almost anyone can push through.