wrist rest mouse and keyboard
Christoph Hohl

Christoph Hohl

Are ergonomic wrist rests for keyboards and mice really useful?

 

Anyone who writes a lot with the keyboard or works with the mouse has probably experienced a strained wrist, while others may already be struggling with stabbing pain in the wrist area, the condition of tendonitis.

The question arises whether ergonomic wrist rests can provide better ergonomics and thus promote a proper keyboard posture or equally a proper mouse posture to avoid or eliminate these ailments.

 

What is an ergonomically correct posture with the mouse or keyboard?

propre mouse and keyboard posture

The basic issue here is that when typing or using the mouse, the wrist is in an unnatural bent position which can cause pain. It may not be a problem in the short term, but it can have serious consequences in the long term.

To better deal with these questions, they are divided into the following two issues:

  • Ergonomically proper mouse posture
  • Ergonomically proper keyboard posture

 

Ergonomically proper mouse posture

There are a variety of completely different mice on the market. From top-of-the-line ergonomic vertical mice, to conventional flat mice, to the Apple Magic Mouse, you can find it all.

An ergonomically correct mouse posture stipulates that there should be no angular strain. So, when using the mouse, the forearm should rest on the table in such a way that the wrist is not bent upwards. The forearm and the mouse should be in a straight line to be ergonomically correct.

With a vertical mouse, the wrist is already in a natural, horizontal position due to the wrist rotation. With this, the main problem is eliminated at the source and no additional external aids are needed!

On the other hand, with a conventional mouse, poor posture is much more prevalent because the wrist rests flat on the table and is thus usually bent too much upwards.

Here, a wrist support can relieve the flexion of the wrist.

 

Ergonomically proper keyboard posture

When it comes to keyboards, the choice is quite diverse.

One major difference in design is not only the length, but especially the thickness of the keyboard.

Here, again, care should be taken to ensure that the wrists are not bent when typing. With thicker keyboards, the forearms lie flat on the desk, which means the wrists have to make a strong upward tilt to be able to type.

Some keyboards have additional fold-out feet which can further increase the unnatural angle.

A wrist rest is usually a good solution in most cases by ensuring the natural position of a horizontal line from the forearms, to the wrists, to the keyboard.

Some keyboards have an integrated wrist rest.

Ergonomic, split or curved keyboards are also available, which may take some getting used to, but promote a more natural posture and promote better ergonomics.

 

What should you look for when choosing an ergonomic wrist rest?

Given the wide range of different designs, consider these features:

  • material
  • hardness/softness
  • thickness
  • freedom of movement
  • size
  • placement
  • combined solution
  • laptop

 

Material

In most cases, the material, both for a mouse support pad and a keyboard pad, consists of an outer fabric and an inner core.

These pads are mostly covered with a synthetic fabric and have a gel filling.

If you prefer a less synthetic material, you can also find wrist rests made of natural fabric covers, such as cotton, linen or the skin friendly TENCEL fabric made from eucalyptus trees.

The inner core of the cushion is often made of a gel but can also consist of memory foam or small synthetic beads that adapt to the wrist. A more natural filling consists of millet hulls, which ideally adapt to your anatomy as well as having a temperature regulating effect.

If your hands sweat readily, choose a wrist pad made with a natural outer material.

There are also versions featuring a washable outer cover, allowing for removal of superficial dirt with a damp cloth.

 

Hardness/softness

To ensure good blood circulation to the wrists, special attention should be paid to the softness of the support pads as often the wrist support pads are too hard.

The ergonomically correct wrist support for the keyboard should bring the wrist into a horizontal position so that the proper keyboard posture can be assumed.

The same applies to the proper mouse posture, with the size of the mouse being an important factor in ensuring a straight line of the wrist and forearm.

Certain filling material, such as small beads, pellets, or millet hulls, promote a small massage effect when moving with the wrist.

 

Thickness

There are also different thicknesses. Again, the existing mouse or keyboard will determine how thick the support should be. Find out exactly which dimensions are specified by the manufacturer and check them for compatibility with your devices.

 

Freedom of movement

Think carefully about whether you always want the wrist support fixed in the same place or whether you prefer to work more flexibly.

Many of the wrist supports cannot be moved and remain fixed in the same position.

In office workstation ergonomics today, the importance of movement is mentioned more and more. Being able to reposition the keyboard or moving the mouse freely is paramount.  In this case, a movable pad would be desirable.

A detail such as this can be the first step towards better ergonomics when typing and using the mouse.

 

Size

They come in all shapes and sizes.

The length of the wrist support should be taken into account for the keyboard, especially if you have an integrated numeric keypad. Make sure that the wrist rest is long enough for the keyboard.

To assume the proper mouse posture with the wrist, the length is not as important as the height, to ensure that the wrist is in a neutral , horizontal position when working with the mouse.

A wide variety of shapes exist, though in many cases this is more a matter of design and less a matter of ergonomics.

 

Placement

The wrist rest should be placed in such a way that your pulse rests on it and alleviates strain from your hand and forearm.

The keyboard or mouse should be placed a few finger widths further forward, in front of the wrist rest.

 

Combined solution

You can buy keyboards with an integrated wrist rest. However, these usually consist of hard plastic, which in turn can disturb blood circulation or cause sweating. Ideally, test such a keyboard beforehand.

Ergonomic wrist rests for working with the mouse have combined solutions, with an integrated mouse pad and support cushion. The mouse pad was an important issue in earlier computer mice, but with the positive technological development of mice, this became less important.

 

Laptop

With a laptop, it is highly advisable and ergonomically correct to work with an external keyboard and mouse. The correct posture when typing and using the touchpad mouse is not optimal with a laptop. Working exclusively on the laptop might be fine for short tasks, but after several hours, the body soon adopts an unhealthy posture when typing and using the mouse.

If no external input devices can be employed, at least a keyboard wrist rest should be used to provide support for the wrists not only while typing but also for using the mouse.

 

Final thoughts

For better ergonomics at your office workplace, a wrist rest is a good and quick solution for both the mouse and the keyboard. While it’s not a miracle cure, you can still achieve proper mouse posture, and proper keyboard posture without much effort. A wrist rest is certainly a good preventative measure.

In any case the main reason for tendonitis or general wrist pain is usually caused by long-term poor posture. Therefore, when using a wrist rest, care should be taken to keep the wrists in a natural and horizontal position while typing and mousing.

To achieve better ergonomics, take frequent small breaks and change your work position often.  This reduces the strain on your wrists, resulting in less joint fatigue, which in turn can increase your work efficiency.

 

If the topic of ergonomics in the office or home office appeals to you and you are interested in it more deeply, I can recommend my book “Wellness in the Office”. Combined with humorous drawings, I pass on 50+1 tips to make your office a little paradise.

wellness in the office 50 + 1 tips
50+1 tips to make your office a little paradise

 

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Christoph Hohl

Christoph Hohl

Christoph Hohl comes from Switzerland and is an ergonomics expert. For more than 20 years he has been offering many solutions with different products and many tips to provide more quality of life and a greater sense of well-being. SANTERGO is a special piece of this mosaic.