On the Problem with Keyboards

Updated: Jul 5

The computer revolutionized the world as we know it. Ever since, it seems like we have been two steps behind in terms of optimizing the health and safety of those using technology.

You will note above that the original IBM computers did not have a mouse. Looking at the above keyboard, it in fact had a reasonable layout in that it had function keys on the left and number keys on the right, creating a balance between right and left hands.

When the mouse came along, it became 'another thing' we had to handle and got placed in the most logical place; to the right of the keyboard. Along the way, the function keys landed on the right side, so we eventually had function keys, number keys and mouse; all on the right side. Not only did this result in an overuse situation for the right (the left arms sits idly by while the right does all the work) but specifically, the right shoulder is engaged in repetitive, awkward postures.

Note the shoulder posture, while using a mouse paired with a keyboard with number pad, versus without.

Is it any wonder that we're plagued with right trapezius trigger points which in turn lead to suboccipital related tension headaches, impingement and rotator cuff disorders, thoracic outlet syndrome?

Another impact of reaching to the mouse, means we are inclined to seek relief for the shoulder, which we do by planting our palm (direct pressure on the carpal tunnel) and then using the 'windshield wiper' technique to use the mouse, which puts extra demand on the muscles of the wrist.

So what do we do??

A compact keyboard is the simplest solution. Ultimately, we want the mouse to be positioned immediately in front of the right shoulder to eliminate any need to reach toward it.

Most of us do not require a number pad. There are always numbers across the top. Some keyboard have an embedded number pad in that you can activate a nine key grid within the letters as a number pad. Some will have a number pad on the left which allow for better balance between right and left.

If you are a high number user you can get a keyboard which is more compact than the traditional keyboard but still has a number bad. Or better yet, you can purchase stand alone number pads, which you can then position suitably while you're using them and push the keyboard to the side.

There are a number of other things to consider in selecting the right keyboard. We have quick consults available that can help you select equipment.

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