Working long hours in front of your computer is the norm for many people.
If you’re one of those. you may be concerned that excessive typing and mouse use can affect your wrist health. And this is also the reason that mouse wrist rests have exploded in popularity.
But this begs the question: Is a mouse wrist rest good or bad for you in the long run? We all know it feels comfortable, but how does it affect your wrist?
The truth is that, like many things, it all depends on how you use it. A mouse wrist rest can be harmful or beneficial to your hand and wrist health.
In the end, you need to make sure you’re using it correctly.
What Is a Mouse Wrist Rest?
Mouse wrist rests were first introduced by ergonomics companies to improve the typical office worker’s workspace. The demand for a tool like this only grew as more workers began laboring in front of a computer.
You can get various types of mouse wrist rests today. However, all varieties are a sort of platform that your wrists rest upon as you use the mouse. They are made from foam, leather, or rubber in more cases.
The location and shape of the wrist rest will vary depending on which model you use. Some clip onto your desk and extend outward.
You can rest your forearm on it as you use the mouse. This helps to keep your forearms at a neutral angle, relaxing tension throughout your arm and hand.
Other types of wrist rest double as a mouse pad. They incorporate an upraised pad that your wrist rests on as you move the mouse cursor.
While your wrist is setting on the upright pad, it supports the muscles in your wrist, reducing the strain you might feel. You can then easily move the mouse on the pad while supporting your wrist.
You can also get a keyboard wrist rest, which is typically longer and thinner. While you can use this to support your mouse hand, it may be harder to use it correctly in that position.
Benefits of Using a Mouse Wrist Rest
Mouse rests, when used properly, straighten your wrist as you use a keyboard or mouse. The support helps prevent discomfort caused by overextension or a poor desk angle.
Not only that, but it may also prevent several other issues that develop over time.
Using a mouse wrist rest can also support your forearm. Correct arm and hand posture promotes good back posture, which can prevent back pain. Bad posture often develops into spinal issues, which no one wants to experience.
If you’re a gamer, a mouse rest can improve the ergonomic performance of your setup. Using one, you’re able to reach keys and mouse buttons faster. This can help you gain a desperately needed edge over the competition.
Mouse wrist rests also keep your hand comfortable, especially as you run a gaming session lasting several hours. In fact, properly using a mouse wrist rest can significantly enhance your reaction time.
These tools aren’t just for your physical health or gaming performance, though.
Mouse wrist rests also provide an opportunity to customize your desk space. Often, this can be a boost to your mental health and productivity as you work.
Drawbacks of Using a Mouse Wrist Rest
Incorrectly using a mouse wrist rest can lead to more problems than it solves. There are various musculoskeletal issues from using it that can inhibit your ability to work.
The foam padding of the rest might cause slouching, which strains your lower back and shoulders.
When you constantly slouch, it makes sitting at your desk for extended periods very uncomfortable. You should already practice good sitting posture before buying a mouse wrist rest.
If you have a mouse wrist rest and use it properly, it might still result in body aches. You should also own a keyboard wrist rest to further support your arms.
Having both keeps your forearms level and your vertebrae in line. If this is the case, you may have to spend more money than you’re willing to.
How Do I Properly Use a Mouse Wrist Rest?
Properly using a mouse wrist rest is key to reaping the benefits of owning one. Doing otherwise is just a waste of money and can affect your physical health moving forward.
Before talking about hand position, we need to think about what size you need. Your hand and mouse size determine the angle that your wrist sits at.
As such, you need to have the correct size mouse before you think about a mouse wrist rest.
If you have smaller hands, you’ll need a smaller mouse. Too large of a mouse can lead to tension in your forearms as you work. In turn, this can promote bad posture and discomfort while sitting.
On the other hand, too small of a mouse will strain your fingers. They won’t be able to rest on the surface, and you may experience cramps. In extreme cases, this can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Once you have the correct mouse size, now you can think about a mouse wrist rest. The foam padding should be comfortable but firm. If it’s too soft, your wrist will sink to an unfavorable angle.
Always maintain good posture as you use your mouse wrist rest.
Also, don’t use your pad as an excuse to slouch, as this may cause more problems. To ensure you use it correctly, practice good posture before you purchase one.
Does Mouse Wrist Rests Actually Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
A common misconception is that using a mouse wrist rest guarantees you don’t get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, the truth is that it can swing both ways.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hands and wrists.
It causes a tingling feeling, numbness, or weakness that can be quite painful. It occurs due to extenuated pressure on your median nerve which runs from your wrist to your hand.
CTS can lead to an inability to grip objects, making it nearly impossible to work on a computer. It’s reasonable to worry about the condition when your livelihood is based on typing and using a mouse cursor.
But does using a mouse wrist rest lead to CTS? On the one hand, properly using the rest can take pressure off the outside of your wrists. This reduces the internal pressure on your carpal tunnel.
Less pressure means you have a smaller chance of developing CTS.
However, using a mouse wrist rest incorrectly can put even more pressure on your carpal tunnel. When you restrict blood flow and proper muscle movement to your wrist, it can lead to CTS.
Despite the risk, this isn’t always the case even if you lean on your wrists as you work.
In general, you are less likely to develop CTS if you use a mouse wrist rest, even if you use it incorrectly.
Compared to the sharp and hard edge of a desk, the pressure caused by the rest is minimal.
The best thing you can do to ensure you don’t get CTS is to have a good typing posture.
That means keeping your wrist straight, your back and legs at 90-degrees, and your shoulders squared.
What Does OSHA Say About Mouse Wrist Rests?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have a surprising amount to say about mouse wrist rests. In general, the department is very supportive of using them.
However, they do advise against using them incorrectly.
One of the main benefits espoused by OSHA is the reduction of pressure on your wrists. Since excessive pressure leads to CTS, OSHA is reasonably concerned about how this can affect work performance.
“Although opinions vary regarding the use of wrist/palm supports, proper use has been shown to reduce muscle activity and to facilitate neutral wrist angles.”
OSHA recommends using mouse wrist rests as part of a larger ergonomic work setup.
Essentially, that means you won’t reap all the benefits that one can provide unless you have other gear to complement it.
Things like a keyboard wrist rest elevated and angled monitor, and back support chair are all good ideas to have as well.
Having a fully ergonomic workspace promotes healthy posture and can prevent serious musculoskeletal issues from developing.
We hope that now you understand the benefits and drawbacks of using a mouse wrist rest.
If used correctly, a mouse wrist rest can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other musculoskeletal conditions.
However, if you use it incorrectly, it can lead to even worse problems.
Only go for a mouse wrist rest if it’s comfortable to use and you can use it at the right angle. If you work in front of your computer, it can be a super useful tool to have around!
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