The average office worker will spend 1,700 hours this year at their computer. While computers have undoubtedly improved the efficiency and speed of rote tasks, too much of a good thing can be quite a problem.
Over time, constant typing and clicking can lead to Repetitive Strain Injury, a group of conditions that includes carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and more. These injuries can cause your hands to weaken, stiffen, or ache on a constant basis.
Changing a few habits now can save you a ton of pain in the future.
Here are seven tips about keyboard ergonomics to keep you happy and productive without any pain.
1. Avoid Wrist Rests
It may seem like purchasing a keyboard with built-in wrist rests is a good idea, especially if your keyboard is kept at a high angle.
But these soft, cushiony rests often do more harm than good.
Ideally, your hands should be free to move around the keyboard. However, a wrist rest (technically for your palms) encourages typists to bear down, causing strain and forcing the hands into awkward typing positions.
2. Angle The Keyboard and Mouse Downward
A high angled keyboard is likely to bend the wrists back, resulting in the degradation of tendons in the long run and near-immediate soreness.
A keyboard stand that slopes downward, however, allows more freedom and less strain. Look for a Computer Keyboard Stand, like this one, that doesn’t bend your wrists back or restrict movement.
3. Keep Your Keyboard’s Feet Down
Unless you’re working with a laptop or digital keyboard, chances are your keyboard comes with attached feet. Keeping these feet up may feel more comfortable at first, but the angling isn’t conducive to correct typing posture.
Unless you need to see the keys, it’s best to leave them down.
4. Customize Your Keyboard
When shopping for a new keyboard, take your hand size into consideration.
Let’s say you have large hands. A small keyboard will force you to keep your fingers close together, which can lead to cramping.
It may be tempting to pick up a cheap keyboard, but your hands deserve better. Make sure your keyboard provides enough spacing for your fingers’ comfort.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
To decrease your chances of suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury, take a small break each hour. Those business forms can wait.
Stretching for two or three minutes can make a world of difference. Start by contracting and extending your fingers. Then, rotate your wrists in slow circles. Repeat several times.
6. Consider a Split Keyboard
Split keyboards aren’t for everyone. But if you can get used to using one, you’ll notice an increase in comfort.
Since you don’t have to keep your hands close together, you can rest your wrists and elbows.
7. Avoid Slouching
It isn’t merely hand and wrist pains you should watch out for. Chronic back pain is all too common in the workplace.
Invest in a standing desk so you don’t have to slouch, or purchase an ergonomic office chair.
Final Thoughts on Keyboard Ergonomics
It’s clear that computers in the workplace are here to stay. While that’s great for productivity, if you’re not careful, it can result in major bodily harm.
As you go through the workday, keep these tips about keyboard ergonomics in mind. So stay aware of your typing habits — you may just save your wrists.
Looking to create the ideal workplace? It isn’t as hard as you may think! Check out our guide to learn more.