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Ergonomics - Hand cramps? Your mouse could be the culprit!

If you work in an office, cube farm, or just spend enough time at your desk - you are probably familiar with that dull ache in your wrists after extended periods of computer use.

It could be your posture, your keyboard, distance from desk, your chair… quite the number of things! However, have you stopped to consider your mouse?

“My mouse!” you may exclaim.

“Surely, there must not be much difference between the various breeds of the lowly computer peripheral.”

Alas, there is. From ‘egg’ to ‘oval’ and ‘vertical’ - from ‘ball’ to ‘BlueTrack’ and ‘trackball’, the differences can be enormous.

Here’s an example of my own mouse and that of a colleague to illustrate.

Evoluent VerticalMouse 4

Evoluent VerticalMouse 4

Microsoft Mobile Mouse 4000 (BlueTrack)

Microsoft Mobile Mouse 4000 (BlueTrack)

As you can see, my mouse (black) is rather normal. It is a notebook mouse, meaning it is smaller than others. It takes 1 AA battery every two months or so, as it is wireless. While ‘normal’ in appearance, I have found that its size, weight, and characteristically good tracking (Thanks to BlueTrack technology) have made me a repeat customer, being purchased thrice for the computers I used most often. I switched to it after finding my former mouse caused me finger pain due to the amount of force required to actuate the buttons.

 My colleague’s mouse, on the other hand, (no pun intended) uses a quite unique design. ‘Vertical’ mice are becoming quite the rage for those who struggle with wrist pain using more traditional mice. As you can see, it is held in the hand almost as usual - but at a nearly 90 angle, as if you were shaking someone’s hand in a friendly greeting, rather than interacting with technology!

He has reported that it has helped quite significantly with his wrist strain.

Finally, our last strange type of interest is the ‘trackball’ type.

Kensington Expert K6432

Kensington Expert K6432

Excellent for those who took the leap to try them and those lacking fine-motor capability alike, trackballs have been a ‘fringe favorite’ to many in varying fields for many years. I myself used one for about a year or so to fair success.

 While the mouse matters a lot - remember, it’s what works for you. The below diagram is an oft-used example to determine proper ergonomics. But for me, who uses a desk deep enough to rest my entire forearm on it (a difference that caused nearly all discomfort from extended use to cease in my case) it is nearly irrelevant since my arm is always positioned in the right format.

 There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right setup for you - whether it be mouse and keyboard, or desk and chair - and we’re here to cover it. Over the next several months, we’ll be diving into more things to make your life easier in more comfortable.

If you haven’t already, sign up for our e-version of The Weathermap, and email us for anything else you would like us to cover at:

- Robbie Pence

Tech, Trainer, and Editor

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