No matter what kind of desk you have, whether you sit or stand while you work—or both—you should pay attention to where your keyboard is located. To help prevent musculoskeletal problems like hand and wrist pain, or even carpal tunnel syndrome, you should position your keyboard at elbow height, where your arms are bent at about a 90-degree angle.
If your keyboard is too high or too low, you could be unnecessarily straining muscles from your fingers all the way up to your neck! You can help prevent these problems by using an under-desk keyboard tray. Below are some tips to keep in mind when you buy ergonomic products like a keyboard tray.
Why Use a Keyboard Tray?
When you install an adjustable keyboard tray, you can easily position your keyboard at the height that’s right for you. Additionally, you can optimize your typing posture in more than one direction with a computer keyboard tray—the ideal position for your keyboard is at a negative angle, where the top of the keyboard points downward. This tilt adjustment helps you keep your wrists at a neutral angle to help prevent injuries.
The best ergonomic keyboard tray is one that offers a variety of adjustment options. In addition to the tilt just mentioned, you should consider an under-desk keyboard tray that not only slides in and out, but also swivels left to right. Sliding the keyboard tray in and out will help you keep your desk decluttered, and you can slide it under your desk when it’s not in use. The ability to swivel left and right gives you more flexibility in positioning, which can be helpful if you move around a lot.
What are the features of a keyboard tray?
It is important that you find an ergonomic keyboard tray that will accommodate your neutral zone. The idea is to minimize your need for unnecessary movement and reaching for your mouse, keyboard or any other peripherals that you’re trying to access while you’re working at your station. Everything is within reach while in a comfortable seated or standing position.
- Adjustability: You just can’t properly configure at what angle you position your arms as you work, when typing on a fixed-height desk surface. You can lower, slide, angle, and pivot your typing surface so that you don't have to bend forward or raise or stretch your arms to reach your keyboard tray and mouse, when you use a keyboard tray.
Proper positioning: The best keyboard trays will also tilt forward and backward, to help you achieve the optimal typing angle—which might surprise you. The ideal typing angle for your wrists is a negative tilt. That means that the keyboard will tilt downwards, away from you—the top of the keyboard with the Function and Escape keys are will be lower than the bottom of your keyboard where the space bar is located. A keyboard tray allows you to position your mouse and keyboard in what’s known as the neutral reach zone.
- Protect yourself from pain and injury:
Keyboard trays help prevent carpel tunnel syndrome as well as other pressure point injuries in your arms and hands. You can also negatively tilt the tray to keep your wrists straight, in addition to the adjustments mentioned above. Having your keyboard or mouse at an uncomfortable height or angle will most likely cause stress and strain, and possibly even pain and soreness issues that will never go away.
- They’re great when standing: When you’re using a standing desk, you can achieve the perfect positioning as well. You can raise your desk high enough to comfortably see the monitors, then lower the keyboard tray so that your arms are properly positioned, if you don’t happen to have a monitor arm.
- Work more efficiently: You will be able to work faster and more efficiently, if you aren't reaching awkwardly, or uncomfortable while you work.
If you do work that requires a lot of precision mousing, Uncaged Ergonomics offers under-desk keyboard tray models which allow you to position your keyboard and mouse exactly where you need them.