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Setting up a workstation for a healthier you

Paul Mah | May 27, 2016
There are plenty of gadgets you can buy to make spending every day at your desk or in a cube. But how exactly are you supposed to set all that stuff up to ensure those excellent ergonomics? Read on…

Your keyboard, mouse and other tools of the trade

Many computer users overlook the importance of the keyboard and mouse to workstation ergonomics. Some keyboard designs may force people to position their wrists at an unnatural angle. And right-handers may find that keyboards with number pads exacerbate the situation by forcing them to hold the mouse at an off-center position to the right.

Some vendors have tried to address that problem by offering keyboards that are split in two, with the keys positioned on an arc. These models often don’t include an extension on the right with dedicated number keys, and instead may be sold with separate number pads. One example is the keyboard that Microsoft sells in its Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop system, which includes a wireless keyboard, number pad and mouse. Keyboards like the Sculpt model take some getting used to, but you may find that the effect is a more natural position that preempts the advent of RSI.

03 microsoft keyboard
It may get time to get used to an ergonomic keyboard like this one from Microsoft, but your wrists will thank you for it.

What works best when it comes to the mouse can vary depending on whether you’re left-handed or right-handed, and your preferred grip type, the size of your hands and your physique. Some users of ergonomic mice — such as the ones from Evoluent, which feature vertical grips — say they help relieve or even eradicate discomfort or pain in their wrists or forearms.

Regardless of what style of keyboard or mouse that you opt for, wireless models — like the Logitech MX Master mouse — may offer more flexibility, though you’ll periodically have to change batteries or to recharge them. An adjustable keyboard tray may also help to keep your wrists and forearms in the proper position.

04 logitech mastermouse
Say goodbye to tangled wires with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

It may also be worth considering a multiple-monitor workstation. The additional screen space could help reduce stress on your wrist by cutting down on the amount of mouse movements and clicks you need to sift through overlapping application windows.

Another way to reduce the risk of RSI, is to use speech recognition software to cut down on the amount of typing and mousing you have to do. Nuance, maker of the Dragon line of speech-recognition systems, offers tools designed to give you the ability to create a totally hands-free workflow. If you go that route, you might want to use a headset with a microphone to capture your speech. There are plenty of headsets to choose from; one option is the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC, which is a comfortable wireless model with an adjustable microphone boom.

 

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