Adjustable, Ambidextrous Mouse Pads Have A Host of Health & Utility Benefits
We know about ergonomic keyboard trays … what about mouse pads?
There’s endless chatter about just about everything to do with computer keyboards and ergonomic keyboard trays. Google around and you’ll be inundated with articles explaining why you need an adjustable keyboard tray, what’s the proper typing posture, how to improve wrist health when typing, why you must have an ergonomic keyboard… and the list goes on.
Try to learn about mousing and you’re hit with a virtual void on information and recommendations. The poor computer mouse—it gets endless use, is sometimes chastised, and rarely does anyone care how they hold it or what they put it on. It seems a little ironic, since virtually every computer has a mouse and even laptop users are foregoing the trackpad for an external mouse.
The Mouse Pad: So Important and So Overlooked
You probably spend a significant amount of time using a mouse to navigate your computer. How often have you though about what your mouse is resting on and how interacting with it can affect your health? Mouse use affects almost everything from your wrist to your back. Repetitive strain in the wrist is an obvious ailment associated with long-term mousing and there is some small indication that wrist rests and varying the physical nature of your mouse can help reduce these health detriments. Perhaps a more unknown physical issue caused by mousing is its effect on the arm, shoulder and back. Improperly positioned mice can force your arm out of a neutral, ergonomic position causing an awkward, unnatural lean or shoulder rotation.
It’s Time To Care About Your Mouse Pad
There are a few simple tricks and devices that can improve mousing comfort and boost your desk ergonomics. First, select an under-desk keyboard tray with an adjustable mouse platform. Under desk keyboard trays are a highly recommended addition to your desk that can significantly improve overall office ergonomics; but many keyboards trays have a rigid mouse platform. This is especially problematic if you want to type with a negative tilt. Not all adjustments are the same and here are three features that an adjustable mouse pad should have:
- Adjustable Tilt : the ability to adjust the tilt of your mouse independently from your keyboard is paramount. Independent tilt ensures that your mouse is always level, even if you’re typing with a negative keyboard tray tilt.
- Adjustable Width : The distance between your keyboard and mouse should be adjustable. Why? Adjustable width mouse pads give a huge boost to proper shoulder posture when typing because they allow you to position mice and keyboards wide enough so your shoulders are straight and not awkwardly curved inward so your hands can reach a mouse/keyboard combination that’s held too narrowly.
- Ambidextrous Mouse Pads : Repetitive strain injuries derive from performing the same action over and over again, especially if these activities are completed with improper ergonomics or poor posture. We commonly spend the majority, if not all, of our time mousing with our dominant hand. Keyboard trays with an ambidextrous mouse pad that connects to both the right and left side of the keyboard tray panel break up the repetition and help reduce ailments associated with using only the dominant hand to mouse full-time.
Strategies To Make Using A Computer Mouse Feel Better
- Proper Mouse Elevation: Using an adjustable under-desk keyboard tray helps position mouse at a comfortable elevation allowing you to type and mouse with a neutral posture. Furthermore, periodically adjusting the height of your mouse breaks up monotony and reduces the effects of long term use in a fixed posture.
Use Both Hands: a relatively new concept in
office ergonomics, mousing with both hands can be advantageous. There are
several ways to accomplish ambidextrous mousing. First, you can use two mice
simultaneously and quickly transition between using your left and right hand to
navigate the computer. Second, you can quickly switch sides throughout the day.
Not coordinated enough? No problem! Start by using your non-dominant hand to do simple mousing tasks like scrolling through a document or clicking through photos. As your coordination improves, you’ll be able to use your non-dominant hand to mouse more effectively for both longer durations and more complex navigation.
It’s time to start caring about how you use your computer mouse and what it’s resting on. It’s advisable to select a keyboard tray with an adjustable ambidextrous mouse pad and to mouse with both the right and left hand to reduce repetitive strain injuries and improve your posture.