Experiencing aches and pains in wrists, hands, and arms while typing for long hours in front of the computer can be harrowing. Sometimes the discomfort leads to the point of weakness in the hands, swelling or even numbness.
Are keyboard wrist rests going to help you ease the pain and discomfort? Is it the right choice?
Let us go into a little depth and try to come up with a definitive answer to your question- are keyboard wrist rest good or bad?
Why wrists experience discomfort?
The biggest reason why wrists experience pain and discomfort is not typing. It is because of two things-
One- your sitting posture
Two- shape and position of your keyboard, accessories like mouse position, shape and desk height in relation to your physical self.
Let us understand each one in detail
Posture for wrist
It is important to always maintain a neutral position while sitting and standing. The best typing position allows your wrist to remain straight while typing, keeping both feet firmly on the ground. This allows the muscles and tendons in your hands, forearms, and wrists to work in alignment while staying in a relaxed state, preventing unnecessary strain.
An ergonomic posture while typing is that the elbows should be as close to you as possible. Your forearms and arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your hands, wrists, and forearms parallel to the floor. Support back properly and shoulder should be relaxed.
The most important thing is that don’t rest your wrist on anything while typing. Do it after you have typed. That is to rest in between typing. Many people make that mistake.
There is no static motion the wrist should be held in because it is a fulcrum. Its proper alignment transfers the power of the arm into the fingertips or device. Just like your ankles are flexible when you walk. They take several positions and are never static. They are used to transfer the weight of the body into the ground.
Likewise, the power of the arm must pass through the wrist, through the fingers and into the device you are using. Isolating or resting the wrist while working will stop the gravitational forces and you will end up with repetitive stress injury.
Typing with bent or twisted wrist creates tension in the muscles and tendons, something that the wrist wasn’t designed for. Try lifting up something with your wrists bent and you will get the idea. The focus should be on the proper position of the arms and wrist.
Shape and positioning of the keyboard, accessories like mouse and desk height
Use a good ergonomic keyboard for a pain and discomfort free typing.
Position the keyboard in such a way that hands and wrist fall in a natural or neutral position. An ergonomic keyboard and mouse are designed with the human body in mind. You are bound to receive massive benefits and improvements in the comfort level of your workspace.
The desk height should complement your ergonomic position, neither too low nor too high.
Place the mouse in such a way that you focus on arms to make wide sweeps with the curser and not the wrist. That is a common mistake many indulge in- focussing on the wrist to move the mouse around.
Do not place the keyboard and mouse too near neither too far from your body. Just at a comfortable distance for a good grip and smooth movements when typing.
Also, place them close to each other. This will allow you to maintain a comfortable position with your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your sides.
Do you need a wrist rest?
It all boils down to personal preference and circumstances. Adjusting your body according to ergonomic position, using ergonomic keyboard and mouse will make your body and wrist quite comfortable removing the unnecessary strain without compromising functionality.
However, If you continue to experience pain and discomfort even after addressing your posture and keyboard & accessories position, then perhaps it is just the thing you need to relieve the pain.
Some people find that wrist rests are particularly effective at relieving tension felt in the neck and shoulders.
The aim of the wrist rest is to keep your wrists in a neutral position while working. If you are able to keep your wrists in a neutral position by using a wrist rest, then I would absolutely recommend you get one for yourself.
Caution while using wrist rests
In some cases, using wrist rest can end up making the symptoms worse. And this is because of the way you use the wrist rest. As mentioned before, the wrists should be in a neutral position.
If you are using a wrist rest and it causes your wrist to bend slightly then it puts pressure on the carpal nerve leading to carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injury.
This rule does not only apply to wrist rests. If you lean your wrists on a desk surface in an awkward position for a long time, it can place pressure on the nerve leading to injury.
Summing up, it is not very easy to conclusively say yes or no to wrist rests. It has worked for some relieving them of pain and for some, the pain has aggravated. Just like the size of each hand is different, the comfort level and placement of bone can vary according to height and age.
It might or might not be useful for you. However, consider it only after addressing your wrist pain by
- Correcting your wrist posture
- Adjusting your keyboard/going for an ergonomic one
- Adjusting your mouse/opting for an ergonomic mouse
- Setting up your chair the right way ergonomically
- Adjusting your desk height
After trying out all of the above, if you still experience hand wrist pain, then investing in a wrist rest is the best bet. It might turn out to be the cure for your pain and discomfort. In fact, many people have found it beneficial to use a wrist rest periodically.
When they begin to feel an ache in their wrist, they take a break and place the wrist on the wrist rest for a while.
So whatever works for you, go for it.
The most important thing is to take care of your body and to remove the pain and discomfort as quickly as possible by whatever means. Pains, aches, and discomfort are a warning sign indicating the part needs attention.
If not taken care of, it can result in bigger injuries like Tendonitis, CTS(carpal tunnel syndrome), RSI(repetitive stress injury), etc hampering your functionality and performance for a long time.
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