Typing on a Slope May Be Easier on the WristsSetting up a computer workstation properly sometimes seems to take a special degree. There's an awful lot of twisting, turning, and adjusting. But for people who spend long hours typing, these little adjustments can make a big difference. Even small changes in the way keyboards are set up can give relief to aching fingers, wrists, and forearms. Small changes may also help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition is a potentially serious wrist and forearm injury that can be caused by overuse.
These researchers are doing studies on the way keyboard use affects the wrist and forearm muscles. Experts recommend that typists position their hands so that the wrist is not bent either up or down. This article reports the results of a study on how keyboard slope affects the way the muscles of the forearm work.
Sixteen typists were fitted with special devices to measure muscle activity. They typed for six minutes on keyboards with different slopes. One keyboard was about at the usual, built-in slope. One keyboard was perfectly flat. But the other keyboards sloped away from the typist--not a common keyboard set-up.
Typing was equally fast and accurate on all the keyboards. The muscle testing showed that forearm muscles worked less hard on the sloped keyboards. The wrist was also bent much less with the sloped keyboards.
However, the typists reported that the most sloped keyboard was not comfortable to use. The sloped keyboards also changed the way the
forearm was positioned. The wrist angle produced by the slope could cancel out the benefits of the sloped arrangement. The authors also note that using wrist rests correctly is important if a sloped keyboard is going to work.
So don't adjust your keyboard slope just yet. But this research is a good base for finding new ways to help typists prevent overuse injuries.
Guy G. Simoneau, et al. Effect of Computer Keyboard Slope on Wrist Position and Forearm Electromyography of Typists without Musculoskeletal Disorders. In Physical Therapy. September 2003. Vol. 83. No. 9. Pp. 816-830.
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