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Ergonomic Keyboards for Wrist and Hand Pain

Many office workers perform over 10,000 key strokes per hour when using their computer. That's a lot of repetitive movements! For this reason, it is not uncommon for many office workers to experience aches and pains associated with awkward postures and repetitive movements associated with using a computer keyboard. Traditional keyboards were not designed for comfort. 

A good ergonomic design keyboard can help to improve your comfort levels and reduce the aches and pains associated with using a traditional keyboard. For many users, simply switching from their traditional keyboard to an ergonomic keyboard can help alleviate their wrist, hand and/or forearm pain. An ergonomic keyboard and mouse will place the hands into a neutral position and can also help to reduce shoulder pain. This creates a more natural position for your hands and wrists. For additional support you can incorporate a wrist rest which will provide a cushioned palm rest.

Our range of ergonomic keyboards include:

  • Compact / Small Ergonomic Keyboards
  • Thin / Slim Ergonomic Keyboards
  • Keyboards without numeric keypad
  • Split Keyboards (e.g. Kinesis Freestyle2 with split design - the kinesis advantage)
  • Wireless Ergonomic Keyboards

Split Key Ergonomic Keyboards

Split Keyboards are designed with a split in the middle of the keyboard that divides the keyboard into two parts. This split creates a V like shape which effectively modifies the working postures of the wrists and hands when operating the keyboard. By splitting the keys, the wrist no longer deviate. Wrist deviation is a common cause of wrist and hand pain from traditional keyboards. Working with sustained wrist deviation places additional pressure on bones in your wrist and the muscles in your hand and forearm. The aches and pain associated with sustained wrist deviation can also be felt in the elbow where the forearm muscles attach to the elbow. Split Key Ergonomic Keyboards come in either a fixed split key arrangement or an adjustable split key option. The adjustable keyboard option is great, however the fixed split key arrangement keyboards tend to get the split key angle right every time.

 

Compact Ergonomic Keyboards

Compact Ergonomic Keyboards are designed to address the issue with traditional keyboards - they are too wide and force the computer mouse to be positioned too far away from the body. This poor placement of the computer mouse means the users shoulder is abducted ("winging") and having to reach away from the body to access the mouse. This awkward work posture activates more muscles in the neck and shoulder and overtime can lead to tight or sore neck and shoulder muscles. Compact Ergonomic Keyboards have no numeric keypad which makes them significantly smaller in length. By reducing the length of the keyboard, the mouse is able to be brought closer to the body.

 

How to Correctly Setup your Keyboard

Your keyboard needs to be positioned correctly in order to minimize the risk of developing neck, shoulder, forearm and wrist pain. When typing, your shoulders should be relaxed and your elbows at a 90-100 degree angle. If not, you may need to adjust your chair height in order to achieve this posture.

Also, be aware of the position of paper copies on your desk (i.e. for data entry). Documents positioned to the side or flat on the desk can cause you to twist your upper body and repetitively flex your neck forward or to the side. Always use a document holder to secure your documents. The document holder should be positioned in- line with your body between your keyboard and monitor, so there is no need to twist your neck to look to the side of the monitor. If you are not proficient in touch-typing, you should consider practicing this skill. As touch typists look down at the keyboard less frequently than those with poor typing skills. This may be the root cause for your constant neck pain.

Position your keyboard approximately 6-7cm away from the edge of the desk, to enable enough desk space in front of the keyboard so that you can rest your forearms on the desk or a wrist support. This may require you to move your monitor further back in order to accommodate the keyboard in the correct position.

The best work posture for typing on a keyboard is to have your wrists in a neutral alignment (flat), with the hands in line with the forearms. Try placing the feet on your keyboard down so that it is flat against the desk. This will help to promote a neutral wrist alignment and reduce any wrist extension you may have when typing. If you are unable to get your wrist into a neutral wrist alignment, you may require a slim keyboard or an ergonomic keyboard. A slim keyboard promotes neutral wrist alignment due to its short height whereas an ergonomic keyboard contains a slight curve. This curve helps to eliminate the deviation at the wrist that some people have when they use traditional keyboards.

Ideally, you should take a break from typing for at least 5 to 10 minutes every 60 minutes. This might mean diverting yourself to other task (i.e. moving out of your chair, doing stretches, or filing). If you are the type of person who gets completely engrossed in their work and can’t remember to move regularly, consider downloading a program onto your computer which can act as a timer/reminder to get up and move. Such programs will alert you with a pop-up reminder when you need to stop typing and take a stretch break. There is a heap of free stretch break software on the internet to choose from.

Keeping your wrist in “Neutral Wrist Alignment” can help to reduce aches and pains in your wrist and forearms. The neutral position of the wrist is that position where the wrist is in straight alignment with the forearm. The diagrams below highlight both the correct and incorrect wrist postures that can occur when using a computer keyboard.

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