You may think you're perfectly safe and fine, sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of your office job, but you're actually still at risk. Bad posture, long periods of sitting, etc. all play a big role in your health when you work the weekly 9-to-5 gig.
Over time, you may be likely to strain muscles and ligaments. This can lead to many uncomfortable conditions, such as back pain, carpal tunnel, and more.
If your job regularly uses a computer, then your typing posture plays a big role in your long-term health. Let's take a look at an ergonomic keyboard tray and how it helps to improve this basic working posture.
The Reality of Bad Typing Posture
Surely by now, you understand the benefit of good sitting posture (whether you do it or not).
"Sit up straight!" our elders always told us.
For some, it became ingrained in our minds, and others it just fell by the wayside. Our musculoskeletal structure relies on good posture in every way: sitting, standing, crouching, lifting, and - yes - even typing!
A number of long-term studies have shown that ergonomic keyboards can be beneficial for individual comfort and reduced risk of pains in joints. What is an ergonomic keyboard, though?
Basically, rather than a regular rectangular keyboard, an ergonomic one is split up into two halves that are usually angled. There are a number of different variations of ergonomic keyboards, but the principle remains the same.
Regular keyboards are flat and force your wrists into static and strenuous positions. Alternative keyboards allow you to angle your wrists in more relaxed positions.
The concept is that while your fingers are plowing away, your wrists can get a break and not be strained too hard or long.
Think about where your wrists are when they lay loose. There's a slight angle, and this natural position comes easily with ergonomic keyboards. You don't have to force your wrists to lay straight.
The Benefits of an Ergonomic Keyboard Tray
Beyond the keyboards themselves, there are even ergonomic keyboard trays. These adjustable trays can help achieve proper typing posture and can even be combined with ergonomic keyboards.
Even if you're using a standard, regular keyboard, an ergonomic keyboard tray can still help with posture and finger placement.
The general idea is that the tray can adjust in height, swivel, tilt, and even hide under your desk.
The height of your keyboard is an important part of proper wrist position for typing. Generally speaking, our keyboards or laptops are usually higher up on a desk.
While our office or home office desks may have a sliding drawer, we often have our keyboard somewhere in front of our monitor. This isn't ideal.
Think about where your arms, wrists, and hands naturally fall.
If your arms lay straight down at your sides, the right angle at your elbow is about the same level where your wrists should be. Usually, we have to angle our wrists up from our elbows to get at the right level, but it should be closer to our hips.
Height-adjustable trays make it easy for you to have your keyboard where you need it when you're not working. From there, you can adjust to the proper height for good typing posture.
You don't necessarily want to swivel the angle of your keyboard for proper typing posture. In fact, if you're facing your computer/laptop head-on, the last thing you want is to swivel your ergonomic keyboard tray one way or another in an entirely opposite direction.
That being said, it might be necessary if you're sharing a space with a friend or co-worker. Let's say someone has come to your desk to check the progress of a project you're working on and you need to share the desk space.
Swiveling the tray is perfect for sitting at an angle while maintaining the right typing techniques.
This one is more related to proper typing posture.
Regardless of the angle you're facing, you want to have a neutral or negative tilt with your wrists. Most typical keyboards have feet on the back end of them.
This means they angle upward, causing our wrists to be strained over long periods of time. Ideally, your wrists should be flat (neutral) or even downward facing (negative) to reduce the stress on your ligaments.
An ergonomic keyboard tray that tilts one way or the other can help you maintain a more comfortable neutral or negative wrist angle.
Attached or Standalone
Keep in mind that ergonomic keyboard trays can usually come in a few different flavors. Mainly, they might be standalone objects that you place on your desk or they might be attached to your desk.
The biggest benefit of using a tray that attaches to your desk is the ability to have it neatly stow away underneath.
This is ideal for people who have many meetings with clients, customers, and other industry professionals. You need to maintain a clean and inviting workspace.
A Note About Keyboard Shortcuts
While a keyboard tray is an excellent way to finally get the proper wrist position for typing, common keyboard shortcuts can help, too!
For example, with the Apple operating system, "Command + X" cuts, "Command + C" copies, "Command + V" pastes, and "Command + Z" undoes the previous command. These types of shortcuts are valuable since you don't need to move back and forth between keyboard and mouse all the time.
Improve Your Healthy Professional Posture
In this day and age, there's a good chance that most of us are sitting down at a computer for our job. And while working in the quiet comfort of an office space might be nice, bad posture habits can lead to painful issues in the long run.
Our typing posture is one big culprit, and improving that posture with something like an ergonomic keyboard tray can go a long way. If you need more advice about how to live your healthiest life in an office environment, check out some ways to stay active while working!