Many of us use a mouse and keyboard everyday in the office. Bad habits in mouse and keyboard use are strongly associated with upper limb disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
Follow the tips in this article to help ensure you remain pain free and don’t become one of the many long-term sufferers of mouse and keyboard related musculoskeletal disorders.
1. The mouse, keyboard and screen should be positioned in front of you
If the keyboard and mouse are positioned to the side, you will twist your body putting strain on the torso and shoulders. By ensuring the keyboard and mouse are in front, you can type with shoulders in a natural position.
2. The mouse and keyboard at about elbow height
With the mouse and keyboard at the same height as the elbows and forearms the shoulders can fall relaxed by the side. This will likely require adjustment of your chair and desk height.
Do not place your mouse and keyboard on different levels as this will not allow a natural posture.
3. The mouse and keyboard should be placed close to the front of the desk
Place the mouse and keyboard so that you don’t need to stretch to use them, the keyboard approx 5cm from the front of the desk and the mouse roughly in line with the keyboard. You need to leave enough room to support the wrists.
The mouse should also be placed close to the keyboard. If the mouse is positioned out to the side, you may be forced to stretch, putting strain on the shoulder and arm or bending the wrist unnaturally. Keep the mouse close to the side of your keyboard edge to prevent stretching.
A compact mini keyboard may help you to achieve this by allowing the mouse arm to come in closer to the body. Mini keyboards typically don’t include a number pad, but unless you are doing lots of numeric work you don’t need this. For those that do require this, a separate plug-in number pad can be used.
For many users a mini keyboard is a highly ergonomic keyboard solution and will help you to achieve this tip. You can find our compact mini keyboard range here.
4. Rest your hands and wrists when not typing
You should be relaxed. Hovering over the keyboard when not typing will put unnecessary strain on your arms and shoulders. Try to be more conscious of where your arms are when not typing and do some wrist and arm exercises every 30 minutes or so. You can learn more about wrist and arm exercises here.
5. If you use a keyboard tray, use a suitable one
Generally a keyboard tray should be avoided as it is often difficult to setup at the correct height and can be restrictive. However, if you are using a keyboard tray, perhaps because you desk is not deep enough, make sure it is one that is wide enough to accommodate both mouse and keyboard. Otherwise you will end up placing the mouse above on the desk and stretching un-naturally to use it.
6. Avoid using a laptop keyboard and trackpad
Yes we know laptops are a convenient tool for many of us, but they have not been designed for prolonged use with physical ergonomics in mind.
Set up your laptop with a laptop stand and an external mouse and keyboard. Treat the laptop as a monitor and follow the tips above for mouse and keyboard placement. You can find out more about laptop workstation setup here.
Don’t forget Posturite is one of the UK’s leading experts in ergonomic keyboard and mouse equipment. As well as following the simple tips in this article, you may benefit from our full range of ergonomic keyboard and mouse products.