The following guidelines will help you avoid musculoskeletal injuries related to mousing. Postural variation is crucial to good ergonomics. Try to vary your wrist and arm posture when you work with a mouse, this will help you to minimize the risk of injury.
Remember, the best ergonomic design in the world will not replace correct working behaviors. The following tips should help you avoid a mouse-related musculoskeletal injury. And do your stretches, they make a bigger difference than you can imagine!
Mouse grip – don’t choke your mouse. Hold the mouse gently to move it over a mousing surface.
Mouse from the elbow – don’t skate or flick the mouse with your wrist. Make controlled mouse movements using your elbow as the pivot point and keep your wrist straight and neutral.
Optimal mouse position- sit back in your chair, relax your arms then lift your mousing hand up, pivoting at the elbow, until your hand is just above elbow level. Your mouse should be positioned somewhere around this point. Don’t use a mouse by stretching up to the desk; use a keyboard trays.
Size matters – if the size of the computer mouse does not properly fit the size of the individual’s hand, there won’t be enough support. Support and comfort is required to minimize fatigue with mousing operations. People with smaller hands should use smaller “mice”; conversely, people with larger hands should use a larger mouse.
Protect your wrist – if you look at the anatomy of the wrist it is curved away from any contact surface (you can easily see this by resting your hand/arm on a flat surface – you will see light under the wrist). The forearm is shaped liked this for the wrist to remain free of surface pressure contact.
Don’t rest the wrist, rest the palm – Keyboard tray “palm rests” were designed to rest the hand between keystrokes. Wresting the wrist on anything for an extended amount of time will impact the median nerve which is just below the skin surface of the wrist.
Furthermore, nerves have the consistency of toothpaste and any pressure in this region will disrupt circulation of the hand and this will increase the risk of injury.
Good typing habits – You should be “hovering” when you are typing, do not type with palms resting. The palm rest is for those in-between moments of reading, editing and mousing.
Avoid restricting arm movement – Do yourself a favor and lower the armrests on your chair. When you rest the forearm it becomes “locked” into a position, encouraging people to make movements by flicking the wrist. Mouse movements should be made using the elbow as the pivot point, not the wrist. Anything that impairs free movement of the forearm, hand or mouse will increase risk for injury.
Load sharing – If you want to experiment using the mouse with your non dominant hand, you need to choose a symmetrically shaped mouse that can be used for the right and left hand. Another alternative is to use two different types of “mice” and switch between the two throughout the day.
Remember, the same principles apply when you are computing at home or on the road. Good working habits can’t be divided between work and home any more than the air between cubicles can be divided.
What else can you do? Take micro breaks, get up and shake out your hands if you are feeling tense or feeling. Do these
Use a stress ball to decrease muscular and emotional tensions. What if you don’t have a stress ball? Just squeeze your fist. When you squeeze and release your grip, this process of muscle tension and release can flush out muscle strain.
Finally, smile and be happy. A positive outlook is medically proven to increase the production of serotonin and dopamine, two naturally occurring chemicals of human happiness.
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