Keyboard Trays: How To Choose the Right One for Your Desk

Keyboard Trays: How To Choose the Right One for Your Desk

What if your office was actually causing major harm to your body?

Every year, more people are diagnosed with musculoskeletal disorders. These are sometimes known as ergonomic injuries because they are caused by your muscles, tendons, and ligaments getting injured through things like repetitive motion. In the private sector alone, the amount of these ergonomic injuries nearly tripled between 2011 and 2018.

Worried that it could happen to you? The best way to prevent ergonomic injuries is by investing in ergonomic office products such as keyboard trays.

But what are keyboard trays? How can they prevent ergonomic injuries, and how can you pick the right one? Keep reading to discover the answers!

What Are Ergonomic Keyboard Trays?

A keyboard tray is a literal tray for your keyboard. The tray helps to hold the keyboard in place for both optimal and comfortable typing. Ergonomic keyboard trays are specially designed to prevent ergonomic injuries over time.

Without a keyboard tray, you have to place the keyboard on top of a desk or other surface. But this can cause extreme discomfort over time, especially if you spend a long time typing each day.

Who Needs Keyboard Trays?

A keyboard tray can be beneficial to any office worker or anyone else (such as students) who spends a lot of time typing each day. But ergonomic keyboard trays are particularly useful if your desk is incompatible with your height and/or multiple people use your desk to type throughout the day.

Without a keyboard tray, you can easily get uncomfortable while typing. For example, your arms may stick out a bit too far for comfort, and your wrist may be too high. This may not matter if you don't type very often, but the discomfort quickly adds up if you do a lot of typing each day.

Many end up getting a computer desk with a keyboard tray because they are either too tall or too short for the current keyboard placement. The result is that the elbow ends up being too high or too low for comfortable typing. While you can address some of this with an adjustable chair, an adjustable tray is even better.

An adjustable keyboard tray is a "must-have" if you work at a station where multiple people use the keyboard throughout the day. Because these people will have differing heights, it's important to have a desk with a keyboard tray so you can adjust for each of their heights.

Different Types of Keyboard Tray

If you decide you need a keyboard tray for desk, you should know there are three different types of trays. You can choose from an under-desk mounted tray, a chair-mounted tray, and a wall-mounted tray.

The most common type of tray mounts under your desk. Such a keyboard tray is typically mounted to the desk using rails or arms, but some modern trays attach using clamps instead.

As the name implies, a chair-mounted tray attaches to your office chair rather than your desk. This may attach to the underside of the chair or to the chair arms. While such a keyboard tray has its advantages, it is less comfortable (and therefore less ergonomic) than most choices.

Wall-mounted trays mount to the wall via articulated arms. Those arms allow you to position the keyboard wherever you want it to go. This may be an ideal solution if you have a standing desk, an exercise desk, or a nonstandard desk design.

How Can You Adjust a Keyboard Tray?

There are different mechanisms that allow you to adjust a keyboard tray. These mechanisms include a standard arm, short arm, above-desk arm, double-swivel arm, and lateral slider.

Which mechanism you decide to use comes down to office design and personal preference. For example, a standard arm is fine for most desks, but all it takes is an above-desk arm to create your own sit-to-stand station.

In an open office environment, you may want a double swivel arm. This design allows you to face different directions as needed, which is great for coworker collaboration. This solution also works well if you have multiple large monitors and turning to face each one is currently difficult.

With a bit of research, you can find the keyboard tray that is best for you. And you can take your first step towards creating a more ergonomic office.

The Importance of an Ergonomic Keyboard Tray

Still not sold on the idea of getting an ergonomic keyboard tray? If so, you should know these trays are comfortable, convenient, and help safeguard your long-term health.

Earlier, we touched on the importance of comfort. If you spend much (or even most) of your work days typing, an ergonomic keyboard tray can help you feel more comfortable. That way, your hands and arms don't feel like they are on fire by the time you get home!

Such keyboard trays are also very convenient. When you aren't having to contort your body to get your typing done, you will be a much more efficient and productive worker. This can help you save time while improving your overall work performance.

Finally, ergonomic keyboard trays help protect you against the long-term ergonomic injuries and disorders we mentioned earlier. Hand, wrist, arm, and back pain are bad enough whenever you experience them. And without an ergonomic office, these can develop into major health disorders that disrupt your quality of life.

To better understand what we mean, let's take a closer look at some of the things that a good ergonomic keyboard tray can help with.

What Can an Ergonomic Keyboard Tray Help With?

Some people think "ergonomic" has become a bit of a buzzword, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Ergonomic keyboard trays, for example, have been designed from the ground up with your health in mind. And they are based on what everyone from doctors to engineers has discovered about office workers over the years.

Think about it this way: the basic task of sitting and typing in front of a computer hasn't changed that much in the last few decades. This has given experts plenty of time to see what musculoskeletal problems occur among office workers and get to the bottom of what causes them.

Ergonomic keyboard trays are designed to help fight against the repetitive motions and strain that lead to long-term health problems. And these trays are especially effective in fighting carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and pain in your neck, shoulder, and back.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is very common. In fact, you probably know someone who has it. This syndrome is caused by your median nerve getting compressed as it attempts to cross the carpal tunnel within your wrist.

When this happens, it results in general pain and weakness as well as specific tingling in your fingers. Once someone has carpal tunnel syndrome, continued typing becomes very difficult and very painful.

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects up to 10 million Americans each year. Many of these people are office workers working with a standard desk and keyboard design. Once you get a desk with a keyboard tray, though, you can help protect yourself against carpal tunnel syndrome.


You might be surprised to discover how many people suffer from tendonitis. Up to 3% of the population has tendonitis, which means it may affect as many as 10 million Americans, much like carpal tunnel.

In fact, tendonitis is often confused with carpal tunnel.  Once a tendon gets inflamed, it causes severe pain. If this happens in your wrist, it can make typing feel like a living hell.

Such tendonitis is primarily caused by repetitive motions (like the typing motions you perform each day). With ergonomic keyboard trays, you can fight against this repetitive motion and keep yourself from developing tendonitis.

Pain In Your Neck, Shoulder, and Back

You might not have tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. But chances are that after a long day at work, you have had major pain in your neck, shoulder, and back.

Some of this pain may feel inevitable. After all, if you have to sit in the same place for eight or more hours a day, it's going to get uncomfortable. And that discomfort may last long after you leave the office.

However, the real cause of much of this pain is not sitting in place. Instead, it's having to adjust your position and strain to get your work done. This is what turns normal aches and pains into major suffering by the end of the day.

Keyboard trays are designed to put your keyboard at the optimal height as you get your work done. That means less strain and, at the end of the day, less pain!

How To Pick the Right Keyboard Tray

Are you now on board with getting a keyboard tray for your office? If so, you'll quickly discover that not all keyboard trays are created equally.

That's why our guide below walks you through some of the things you need to consider. For example, do you want a keyboard tray that is perfect for your current setup? Or do you want to use the keyboard tray as a chance to change up how your office looks and feels?

Whatever your needs, our guide will help you make the right choice.

Sitting Desk vs. Standing Desk

Before getting a keyboard tray, you need to figure out whether you want to have a sitting desk or a standing desk. With a keyboard tray, you have many options!

As we mentioned before, you can get an above-arm keyboard tray. This effectively converts a standard desk to a standing desk. It may sound weird, but standing at work can be good for your back, your neck, and your overall health.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with sticking with your standard desk. If you go with this choice, you must decide whether to get a keyboard tray mounted to the chair, the wall, or the desk.

To Attach To the Desk Or Not

By far, the most popular choice for ergonomic keyboard trays is attaching them to the desk. But it's important to do your homework before ordering the keyboard tray that you want.

That's because you need to find a tray that fits your current space. If the rail is 22 inches, for example, it may not easily fit underneath your current desk.

In some cases, you may have ample space in your office. In that case, it doesn't matter as much whether you have much room underneath your desk and you can order whichever tray you want. Otherwise, you may want to explore a wall-mounted tray instead.

Versatile Mouse Positioning

Remember when we talked about an office where multiple people use the same computer? If this sounds like your office, you should get a keyboard tray where the mouse can fit on either the left- or right-hand side. 

This kind of setup is ideal for multiple users because it can be used effectively by those who are righthanded and those who are lefthanded. You may not have that many lefthanded coworkers, but trust us: they will appreciate having the option!

Choosing a Sturdy Material

Some people hold off on buying an ergonomic keyboard tray because they worry it will be too expensive. In reality, these trays are surprisingly affordable. But make sure you don't settle for a weak material in an attempt to save money.

For instance, there are many plastic keyboard trays out there. This material is cheap, but it's also relatively weak. If you use your keyboard a lot, that tray may not even make it to the end of the year.

By investing in a sturdy tray, though, you are investing in your own health. And just like your health, you want a keyboard tray that lasts a good, long time.

Get the Best Ergonomic Keyboard Trays Today!

Now you know how to choose the best keyboard trays. But do you know where you can have a great tray delivered right to your door?

Here at Uncaged Ergonomics, we specialize in the products that keep you comfortable all day, every day. To see how we can make you healthier and happier, just contact us today!

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