Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure busted my shoulder (and some others as well)

This is of course guesswork and I am not suggesting that this Nintendo Switch game is wholly responsible for my current shoulder issue, Nintendo has a LOT more lawyers and money than me, but after a little bit of research it started to become clearer to me.

Back in March, at the start of the first UK lockdown, we bought Ring Fit Adventure as an extra tool to help us keep fit. It looked like a fun experience and something that the whole family could enjoy, and so I started to play it.

I have been losing weight and getting fitter over the past few years and can do 100 press ups, planks for decent periods of time, side planks on both sides and various other exercises that require upper body strength. The exercises I have undertaken have been consistent and I am always careful not to injure myself as that would defeat the object of the exercises in the first place.

And so I followed the Ring Fit guide in the early stages and chose an easy setting so I could get used to how it worked. My wife did the same and was enjoying it more than I was. I should note that she stopped using it after a few weeks as she had some upper back pain while playing which was also unusual as she undertakes a variety of exercises as well (4 half-marathons and 2 marathons in the past 3 years).

Despite following every instruction and using an easy setting I noticed some pain in my left shoulder / top of my arm and so I stopped for a few days. The trick for any pain is to avoid exercising the area and let it rest sufficiently. I then tried Ring Fit a week later and noticed the pain again after playing for 30 minutes so I left it.

The pain started to affect how I could move my left arm and it was then that I realised some proper damage had been done. I stopped all upper body exercises and stuck to walking and running, but alas the pain did not go away.

Fast forward to now and 6 months later the pain is still there and movement in my left arm is seriously inhibited. I have had injections, dry needling, strapping and multiple osteopath appointments to help it heal, but the process is very long for a rotator cuff injury and so the process will continue.

As you can imagine it is not the best injury to have purely because it takes so long to heal, it seriously inhibits what you can do and it may ultimately result in an operation (these are not always successful). And so I started to think back to how I could have caused the injury and the Ring Fit came to mind. The process of pushing a ring together is quite novel outside of a gym, but in Ring Fit you have to do so, for varying lengths of time, in a variety of positions. Over your head, in front of your belly, to the side etc and you get points for each successful completion.

It dawned on me that the Ring Fit exercises are undertaken in the positions I can no longer manage because of my left arm and the more I think about it the more certain I am that the injury was sustained playing Ring Fit.

I decided to have a quick Google to see if it was only me and it certainly wasn’t. Here are some examples-

‘Ring fit injury’ from Reddit

my shoulder(?) bicep(?) got injured when i pushed with all my strength on the ring during the start up of the game. How long would it take to recover or when can i start doing exercises again?

Alpha (tweeted here)

just left urgent care since I damaged my rotator cuff (right shoulder) while playing ring fit adventure

My embarrassing Nintendo Ring Fit injury

Less than a minute in, and a simple squeeze in on the ring led to a pulled muscle in my side? Back? I really have no idea what happened. I’d been driving for hours the day before, out to Long Island to see my mom and sister. Did that cause it? Did I lift something? Am I just really, really that out of shape?

Now, it could be that we are all not preparing well enough to use Ring Fit, but I don’t believe that to be the case. I know for a fact that I warmed up properly and I followed every single instruction, and here I am 6 months later with a continuing rotator cuff injury.

Obviously I cannot blame Nintendo, and I am not going to say the words, but the way you have to use the ring does not feel natural at all to me.

4 thoughts on “Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure busted my shoulder (and some others as well)

  1. My left thumb has been messed up for at least 15 years from a game I played on my Treo. If I do a certain pinch grasp with that hand my tendon will hurt for a week.

  2. I also tore my rotator cuff and now have bursitis as well, I have been suffering since March 2020. I’ve been trying to find just what could have caused this, and I just recently remember I had bought Ring Fit Adventure a couple months before my injury. Now I have come across this and other stories of injuries due to this game and the cause is now crystal clear. We should start a class action lawsuit.

  3. I am new to working out and Ring Fitness was perfect for me – slower paced, achievable goals, and fun to boot. But after 2 weeks my left shoulder was in consistent pain. I took off a week and came back to it, only to find no matter what I did, no matter how careful I was or how much I focused on my form or how I avoided upper body training, the game still pretty much forces you to pull or squeeze the ring in some capacity (especially in adventure mode) and I found my shoulder having sharp pains throughout the workout. I am immensely disappointed and upset as I was REALLY enjoying it.

  4. I’m also suffering from shoulder pain after playing Ring Fit, I wasn’t immediately sure what had caused it as I haven’t been pushing myself hard, but that’s realistically the only thing it can be. I’ve currently got restricted movement / stiffness / sharp pains, struggling to do normal things.

    I found the game motiviational, I was enjoying exercise and working up a good sweat in just 15 minutes – this wasn’t the payoff I expected.

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