The short answer: it depends on how you use it. Read on to learn how best to use wrist rests.
What is a Wrist Rest?
A wrist rest is a device used to support your wrists while typing or when using a computer mouse.
Should I Get a Wrist Rest?
The aim is to keep your wrists in a neutral position: not bent up nor down. If used, any type of wrist rest device should be selected as part of an ergonomically designed workstation.
Keyboard and Mouse Best Practices
With most ergonomic products for the office you need to consider your entire workstation as often as possible.
- Does the keyboard location allow you to keep your upper arms and elbows close to your body?
- Is there weight-bearing support for your arms (a wrist rest) when you are using your keyboard?
- Does the keyboard position and angle allow for neutral wrist posture, so hands are in a straight line with forearms?
- Does the mouse location allow you to keep your upper arm and elbow close to the body?
- Is there weight bearing support for your arm (chair arm or wrist rest) when you are using your mouse?
- Does the placement of the mouse allow for a neutral wrist posture, so your hand is in a straight line with forearm?
- Do your arms and wrists rest upon surface areas absent any sharp or hard edges?
Performing keying tasks without a wrist rest may increase the angle your wrists are bent. Increasing the angle of bend increases the contact stress and irritation on tendons and tendon sheathes. This is especially true with high repetition or prolonged keying tasks. Keying without a wrist rest can also increase contact stress between your wrist and hard or sharp workstation components.
Ergonomic wrist rests provide many benefits for a keyboard user such as:
- preventing extension of the wrist by keeping them straight during keyboard use.
- providing padding for the hands, making the desk more comfortable.
- keeping hands from dropping off the edge of the keyboard.
- Helping to relieve tension and soreness in the shoulders by removing arm weight from the shoulders and neck.
- alleviating pressure and irritation of the tendons.
When choosing a keyboard rest consider:
- Your hands and wrists should not be at all constricted and be elevated above the wrist rest while typing. When resting, the pad should contact the heel or palm of your hand, but never the wrist.
- Reduce potential bending of the wrists by adjusting all other workstation components so your wrist can remain in an in-line, neutral posture.
- Ensure your wrist support completely matches the dimensions and slope of the front edge of the keyboard.
- The support should be at thick as possible—at least an inch deep, fairly soft, and rounded to minimize pressure on the wrist.
When choosing a mouse rest consider:
In order to reduce the risk of injury and discomfort, the proper way to move the mouse is with whole arm movements that originate at the shoulder and not the elbow. You may need to change your desk or chair height so that your work surface is the same height as your elbows. Also, if your desk has an adjustable angle, make sure it is flat or slightly tilted away from you. These adjustments help keep your wrist straight while you are using the mouse.
To make the most of your wrist rest, this might sound counterintuitive—but don’t place your wrists directly on the wrist rests or any other surface. Instead, place the palm or the ball of your hand on the rest. Try to only use the rest between periods of typing, not all the time. While typing, keep your wrists straight with your hands floating freely over the keyboard.
One’s personal preference for using or not using a wrist rest is a very significant factor. Workers who choose not to use them while actually performing their tasks may opt to just use them for a rest break, between tasks. An adjustable workstation which is suited to the individual using it is essential.