With repetitive strain injuries to the wrist and hand being so common due to overuse, it’s no surprise that people are looking for the best mouse and keyboard setup for their workstation. If you spend most of your workday pounding a keyboard and clicking the mouse, find out what you should be doing to stay safe and comfortable.
#1 Placement of Keyboard & Mouse
While you can do your best to ensure your typing posture is the best it can be, the placement of your keyboard and mouse on your desk is important. Make sure the keyboard is close to the edge of the desk - a gap of around 5cm-10cm is best, as it allows you to have wrist support without being too far from your body. Place the mouse near the hand you use, in line with the keypad so that you don’t need to stretch to reach either. The mouse should be back far enough from the desk edge that you have enough room to support your wrists when you’re not typing.
You may need to change the height of your chair or desk so that your arms don’t have to be lifted or lowered to switch between your keyboard and mouse. Your elbows should be at right angles when using the keyboard and mouse.
#2 Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Save yourself time and keystrokes by setting up shortcuts and macros for common tasks. Some programs allow you to automate common tasks such as adding the organisation’s address details. Look at buying a program that allows you to record macros for your software and assign complex key sequences. These can all make a significant reduction in the amount of typing you need to do and save time in the long run.
#3 Good Posture Habits
Every time you sit down at your computer, check the setup. Make sure the mouse and keyboard are in the right place. Once you start work, you may not realise that you’re reaching unnecessarily or your chair isn’t high enough so your elbows are much lower than your wrists. Check that the monitor is at fingertip length and that your eyes are level with the website address bar when online. Take your hands off the keyboard and mouse when you aren’t typing or clicking to give your hands and wrists a rest and a different position.
#4 Keep it Clean
You have no doubt heard that the surface of the average keyboard has far more bacteria than a public toilet seat, but how often do you clean your keyboard?
Dirty keyboards not only harbour bacteria and virus particles but, with time, dust and grime can affect the keyboard’s performance. Each week, it’s important to give your keyboard and mouse a good clean. Turn the keyboard upside down to tip out any loose debris, and use compressed air to blow out any dust between the keys. Use a cotton bud dipped in isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface and between the keys. Alcohol dries quicker than water, but be careful not to let any liquid drip underneath the keys, particularly on laptops. Finally, wipe over the keyboard with a lint-free cloth to remove the last of any dust and moisture. Looking after your ergonomic investment will mean it can look after you for longer.
#5 Upgrade the Standard Mouse to an Ergonomic Mouse
Heavy mouse users should consider upgrading their standard mouse to an ergonomic one to reduce the chance of cramps and a sore hand. A standard mouse causes stress on tendons, whereas an ergonomic mouse will allow you to keep your hand in a natural, handshake position so there’s less pain and stress injuries.
An ergonomic mouse is designed to require less grip strength than a standard mouse. The larger, stronger muscles of the upper arm are used instead of the tendons in the wrist to operate an ergonomic mouse.
If you already have a wrist injury, an ergonomic mouse can help to alleviate some of the pain and may even stop the injury progressing to Carpal Tunnel.
#6 Upgrade the Standard Keyboard to an Ergonomic Keyboard
If you’ve been working on the same keyboard for the best part of a decade, it’s not up-to-date when it comes to the best available technology. Standard keyboards require hands to twist in an unnatural position which can lead to injuries, pain and discomfort, while an ergonomic keyboard keeps your hands in a natural resting position. Keeping a natural hand shape and angle throughout a long work day not only reduces the risk of a hand or wrist injury, but it also reduces fatigue so you’re more likely to be productive for longer.
Types of Ergonomic Keyboards
Some ergonomic keyboards are split into two so you can move both parts to the best position for you. The keyboard can also be adjusted from zero to 30 degrees along the vertical and horizontal planes.
For workers that enter data regularly, there are separate number pad combo keyboards which are ideal for swapping the keypad to the left of the keyboard or moving it out of the way when not in use. Furthermore, when the number pad is attached, the letter keys, which are the primary input for most people, are off-centre. Make sure the letter keys are directly in front of you rather than to the side.
#7 Move Around
Even if your keyboard, mouse and workstation set-up is perfect, the single best thing you can do for your body is to leave it! Take a break at least hourly to walk around the office or home to give your eyes a change from staring at the screen, and your hands and wrists a rest from the keyboard and mouse.
If you would like to try the difference an ergonomic keyboard and mouse can make to your day, visit our Perth showroom and see for yourself how comfortable they are to use. Otherwise, we can provide advice over the phone when you call 9240 7066. Alternatively, you can contact us online.