Ergonomics is when people assess and design equipment to make it properly fit the human body. One of the most common reasons for this study is to improve efficiency for people in the work place.
The pressure and strain that comes with these typing habits can result in things like carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries which are very painful. Carpel tunnel syndrome results in pain and numbness in the hands and fingers supplied by the Median nerve which painkillers are not shown to make much improvement to. There are both medical and non-medical ways to treat carpel tunnel syndrome. The medical treatments include a corticosteroid injection or in more serious cases surgery where they cut the wrist to relieve the pressure being put on the median nerve. It can be treated at home by cutting down on the activities that causes pain to the nerve and to wear supports around the wrists, but doing this would mean the wrist could take months to feel better. An osteopathic treatment would be a happy medium between the two. It would be non-medical but the osteopath would assess the function of the nerve from where it starts and therefore would be able to give advice of other ways to relieve the pressure such as breathing techniques and posture that originate from other parts of the body.
An ergonomic keyboard is a keyboard that is typically designed for more comfortable typing as it allows a person to type in the natural way the hand would sit and move. The idea is to make the keyboard conform to the natural movement of your hand rather than your hand conforming to the way the keyboard sits. Most ergonomic keyboards also include other features such as large wrist pads and a negative slope attachment which you put underneath the keyboard to place it at an angle that causes less strain for your wrist.
There are many different variations of the ergonomic keyboard;
- A split ergonomic keyboard which is literally as it sounds, a keyboard split into two parts to eliminate the awkward positioning of the hands when you bring the wrists together to type.
- A fixed split ergonomic keyboard remains a single board but it has a curved layout and the keys are still separated by a gap in the middle.
- An adjustable split keyboard is split into several independent pieces so the amount of space between the different groups of keys can be adjusted and personalized.
The overall opinions of ergonomic keyboards are that they vastly improve the comfort of typing, and that they increase typing speed as they eliminate the need for unnecessary movement. Of course, there will always be the negative aspects, one is that decent ergonomic keyboards can be quite expensive. Also, most reviews said that to get an ergonomic keyboard you will already have to be quite skilled with ‘blind typing’ otherwise finding the keys will make your typing speed decrease.
There is many ergonomic equipment out there, but one that goes hand in hand with an ergonomic keyboard would of course be the ergonomic mouse. Using a mouse for long periods of time can have the same effect as typing, or even worse. It involves lots of focused and repetitive movements that cause strain on the muscles and sometimes it can result in the formation of painful nodules. Much like the ergonomic keyboard, there are many variations of the ergonomic mouse to alleviate or prevent pain from the long hours spent at computers. Examples would be the vertical mouse which lies up instead of flat so you hold it round the sides rather than lie your hand on top. This means the majority of the movement comes from stronger muscles like your shoulder rather than the smaller muscles in your hand. The vertical mouse comes in many shapes and sizes which means you can find the right mouse for you that offers the best comfort. Another type of ergonomic mouse is a trackball mouse, this is shaped more like a regular mouse but has a ball located at the top. This means you can navigate where the mouse is moving on your computer screen with your fingers moving the ball, rather than moving the whole mouse with your hand and arm. A benefit of this mouse is that the tend to be ambidextrous so your dominant hand doesn’t matter.