Do you stare at your keyboard in contempt? This inanimate object, designed by the underworld to cause us discomfort!
There is a traditionally recommended posture preached to us about how to position our hands on a regular keyboard.
In a monotone voice, “our fingers should be curved over an invisible ball with wrists parallel to the keyboard. Wrest the wrist to reduce strain.”
But wait! The issue comes up when people are doing this for 8 or more hours a day and discomfort arises.
All the rules and advice get thrown out the window. We all have different genetics, posture, and experiences that will contribute to how we interact to typing.
Are you nodding your head while scoffing at your keyboard? If that’s you, an ergonomic keyboard could definitely be worth it.
Do ergonomic keyboards help?
For many people in jobs across the globe they really do. Even piano players take frequent breaks for their hands, and that’s a little less possible when we’re at work. And when we get older, things can get complicated.
Here are a few reasons we might need these keyboards.
- A standard keyboard was thought up by someone looking for the physical form of the computer, not our meaty body parts. It’s flat, you have to stretch out your fingers and make unnatural movements.
- When you’re moving your hand as you type, if you look down you’ll notice something. Likely your wrists are moving all over the place. On a properly designed ergonomic keyboard, wrist movement is minimized or eliminated. Your hands stay in the same place.
- There are no palm wrests on standard keyboards. If you’re on a laptop or a regular keyboard, you might be so used to it that it doesn’t consciously register. But, imagine sitting in a stool all day without a backrest. It’s essentially the same thing, we just got used to it.
- We compensate for a lot of things about normal keyboards. Everyone has a little coping mechanism they do when they get uncomfortable, it just happens over time.
- If you notice you’re “floating” your hand over the keyboard, another common issue. It can lead to all sorts of negative consequences.
How do ergonomic keyboards work?
A properly designed ergonomic keyboard works by minimizing movement, increasing comfort, and relieving tension from unnatural movements or extensions. There are many models with people glowing about how they’ve improved their lives.
One thing to keep in mind though, is at this point the word “ergonomic” can be a marketing tactic. When I was browsing for ergonomic keyboards I found a large amount used the word with a standard layout.
So, do your research when you’re looking for something truly ergonomic. It might look funny and a lot different than you’re used to, but in this case that’s a good thing.
Our bodies weren't made to type on a regular keyboard!
Here’s a little exercise for you to do. Sit back in a neutral position and let your hands fall to your side. Now, imagine your keyboard isn’t in front of you at all. While sitting up straight with your spine neutral, close your eyes and extend your hands forward.
Where do your hands end up? Crazy right! If you’re like me, your hands ended up much further off to each side than they do when I’m typing. Yet when we sit at a keyboard our hands and arms converge.
It makes sense why people have so many problems sitting and working in this position! It’s also kind of funny to me, we’re so obsessed with having proper form in sports or anything else. Yet when we sit down at the workstation that we’ll spend a majority of our time at, it goes all out the window.
That “typing position” they showed me in class as a kid, how the heck is that natural? It’s not. So intuitively, it makes sense why there is such a demand for improving posture and typing.
Are mechanical keyboards ergonomic?
We define ergonomic as any keyboard specifically made to reduce strain. So the answer to this is, they can be. However, most mechanical keyboards use the standardized layout we see commonly.
But, there are some options out there for specifically mechanical keyboards that are ergonomic. I’ve seen split versions that seem interesting.
Ergonomic keyboard vs Regular
Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of an ergonomic keyboard vs a regular style.
Ergonomic Keyboard Pros
- Can potentially reduce strain
- You’ll be able to type longer
- Many programmable options
- Usually of a higher build quality than a regular keyboard
Ergonomic Keyboard Cons
- Tends to be more expensive, sometimes much more
- You may not get used to the different keyboard layout
- It will feel very alien for a while until you adjust
Regular Keyboard Cons
- Your hands are in naturally awkward positions
- Tend to be of a lower build quality(not as specialized)
Regular Keyboard Pros
- Much cheaper on average if you’re looking at the mid to low tier
- A huge variety compared to ergonomic – you can get any style you want
For me, when I factor the most important aspect of this which is comfort, there is a clear winner. But it really depends on your usage. The biggest knock is probably going to be the high price of ergonomic keyboards.
Which professions benefit most
There are different tiers of typing. If you’re looking to upgrade ergonomics for your staff in an office environment it can be a BIG expense. But, it’s also a really nice thing to do to improve employee well-being.
Careers that are inundated with typing tend to be: programmers, writers, data entry, and general office work.
For these professions which spend a huge amount of time typing away, this would be a big improvement.
Typing for the Soul
Okay, that headline is a little dramatic. But, hopefully from this review you’ve gotten a better understanding why people choose to switch to ergonomic.
If you end up making the switch, let me know how it worked out for you. I’m planning on upgrading my keyboard in the future as well!
Hey everyone 🙂 My name is Conor. I'm passionate about technology, zen, and improving the quality of life so many of us share at a desk!