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Why comfort is important

A skilled baseball player has his/her own particular batting stance and swing, depending on individual posture, body size and type, musculature, and preference.  Each batter chooses the bats, shoes, gloves, etc., that fit him or her best.

Exactly the same level of concern should be shown in coping with the complex sequence of muscle acts, which make up computer keying.  We can think in terms of “keyboard athletes.”  However, until now, keyboard athletes have not had the tools available to accommodate natural posture and individual preferences.

Why adjustability is important: Keyboards & Mice
The flat keyboard forces computer workers to bend their hands and wrists into an inherently awkward posture –a posture that decreases comfort and increases fatigue.

In order to key more comfortably, the hands should be maintained in their natural posture –that is, the same position as when they are hanging relaxed at your sides.  In an article included among selected references by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Thomas J. Armstrong, Ph.D., states:

“As a general rule, tools and tasks should be designed so that they can be used and performed without causing wrist deviation (bending) from side to side or causing the wrist to be flexed (bent toward the palm) or highly extended (bent away from the palm).  The wrist should be maintained in the same position as though the arms were hanging relaxed at the worker’s side.”

If you are keying at a flat keyboard, maintaining your natural posture is impossible.  If you start with your hands hanging relaxed at your sides, and maintain that straight hand/wrist posture while bending your elbows to form right angles, you will be assuming the natural wrist/arm posture recommended for keyboard operation.  The flat keyboard, in contrast, requires you to rotate your palms from facing each other to facing down (pronation); then, to position the fingers on the home row keys, most people have to angle their wrists inward (ulnar deviation).  This stressful rotating and angling of the wrists when keying is an awkward posture, which lessens your comfort.  It is quite different from the recommended natural posture.

Neutral to Pronated & Deviated wrist positions on a typical keyboard

The best position for mouse & trackball use is with your wrists neutral. Your wrist should not bend to tilt your hand up or out to the side. The same idea will help when you do other activities that require you to use your fingers and hands in the same way over and over. As much as you can, keep your wrists neutral.