Everything you know about keyboard ergonomics is wrong

Everything you know about keyboard ergonomics is wrong

Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard

Depending on your age you may not notice it yet, but after a few years of typing all day every day at a full time job, your wrists will start to feel uncomfortable. Eventually you will start feeling pain. All because you’ve been using your keyboard wrong the whole time and not paying attention to logical keyboard ergonomics.

It’s also disappointing that ergonomic specialists fail to address this problem. Most specialists that I’ve encountered during my career only focus on back and neck ergonomics. And when a user does specifically ask for wrist ergonomics advice for their computer workstation, most of the time the specialist just recommends installing a keyboard tray.

Maybe the companies I’ve worked for just hire bad ergonomics consultants. It’s baffling to me that there seems to be no logic behind keyboard ergonomics. When these specialists setup the keyboard trays, they keyboard was now lower than before and tilted even more upward. This doesn’t make any logical sense.

Natural Keyboard Ergonomics

Think about the natural position of your wrists. Now think about how most keyboards have legs at the back in order to raise the back of the keyboard, to make the keys tilt more towards you. Well, this makes no sense. You want the opposite. You want to tilt the keyboard away from you or have it completely flat if your arms are actually parallel with the desk surface.

Your wrists should be straight on the keyboard, not tilted up. That is their natural position after all. Take a look at the Microsoft Sculpt keyboard with the wrist stand attached:

This is how your keyboard should tilt in order to relax your wrists. Not just the vertical tilt, but also the slight sideways tilt and rotation so that your wrists can be at rest not just vertically but also horizontally and in their rotation. Basically, 360 degree ergonomic perfection for your wrists.

I’m not advertising this keyboard. This is not a promotion for Microsoft. It’s just the only commercial keyboard I have found that provides logical ergonomics. There may be other “professional” ergonomic business keyboards that look like they’re from the 90’s and offer this feature at a price that’s 5x more expensive, but there doesn’t seem to be any ergonomic keyboard at this price point that does it right.

Typing Styles

One thing I need to point out is that this ergonomic keyboard setup is best for touch typists. I’m assuming if such a large part of your job is typing, that you are a touch typist by now. If you hunt and peck for the keys, then and only then the “traditional” keyboard tilt might work better for you. But if you rest your hands on the keyboard most of the time, then you should try out this keyboard or some sort of stand for your own favorite keyboard.

So think about the natural position of your wrists, and how they feel at rest in front of a keyboard when you’re ready to type. If they’re bent upwards, that is not their natural at-rest position. Try tilting your keyboard to raise the wrist area. And make sure your monitor is also configured ergonomically, since eye strain is another topic that often gets missed by ergonomic consultants.

Disclaimer: I am not an ergonomic expert or medical professional. Consult with a professional to avoid any medical issues. This article simply describes the setup that I have personally found to be optimal for myself.

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