Behind the buttons: Ergonomics and keyboards

You come across it at almost every desk: the keyboard. In addition to the mouse, the keyboard is the most commonly used tool when working at a computer screen. The way we type also causes many RSI complaints. How do these complaints arise? And what ergonomic alternatives are there for the 'standard' keyboard?

Ergonomics and typing

In the past 50 years, increasing evidence acknowledges the fact that the long-term effects of typing are related to RSI complaints. When working at a computer, people spend almost a third of their day with their fingers poised above the keyboard. Typing creates a dynamic, repetitive strain on the small muscles and tendons (in the hands and wrists), and a static work load on the large muscles (shoulders and neck).

Standard keyboards

The shape of the keyboard is largely to blame for a person adopting an incorrect posture while typing. For example, a standard keyboard has 4 major drawbacks:

  1. Twisted forearms: The forearms are continuously twisted during typing (with the palms of the hands facing downwards), which can lead to the forearm muscles becoming strained.
  2. Twisted wrists: There is a bend in the wrists as the hands come together, in the middle, in front of the body. The tendons in the wrists can also become strained.
  3. Tilted hands: Most standard keyboards are quite high. This creates an unnatural angle while typing. The tilting movement of the hands causes continuous strain on the tendons that run through the wrists.
  4. Large reach distance to the mouse: When using a right-handed mouse and a standard keyboard, you have to reach out to the side. This can lead to strain on the shoulder and wrist.

Ergonomic alternatives

If you experience RSI complaints, or want to prevent them, then it is advisable to switch to an ergonomic keyboard. Various scientific studies have shown that an appropriate ergonomic keyboard helps you to type in a healthy, natural way, without having to think about it. Complaints are so easily prevented and / or reduced.

How does that happen? The design of ergonomic keyboards is based on 3 principles:

  1. Natural posture: The design of the keyboard ensures that the hands and wrists are in a natural, relaxed posture while typing.
  2. Minimal reach distance: The keys can be operated using slightly bent fingers, ensuring the reach distance is minimal.
  3. Minimal muscle tension: The operation of the keyboard requires minimal muscle tension in the forearm muscles and in the tendons of the hand.

To achieve this, ergonomic keyboards often have a rather different shape compared to the standard keyboards we are used to. There are compact, split and even vertical keyboards.

What is the best ergonomic keyboard?

Are you curious about the different types of ergonomic keyboards? In our new white paper, we have listed the pros and cons of the most common types of ergonomic keyboards. Download it and see for yourself which type of keyboard could be the best option for you (or your customer)!

Tags: whitepaper, ergonomic keyboards