Ayende @ Rahien

It's a girl

Ergonomic Hardware

imageLike many people who work with computers a lot, I suffer from wrist pain. I recently switched to using a Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000, and it reduced those issues very quickly. The main benefit of the keyboard, aside from the ergonomic, split, design, is that it is  raised, which mean that my wrists doesn't have to bend in order to use the keyboard.

I have found that this to be a great product, with the single complaint that the wrist rest hand doesn't stretch enough to the left, so I have no easy way to access the left most keys column of the keyboard. I literally need an extra inch or two and it would be perfect.

Now I am looking for a mouse that I can use that will not reduce the effort even more. I would like to be able to go totally mouse free, and while I can do it, the problem is that this is simply not possible in many applications.

In Windows Live Writer, for instance, I don't have any way to access the right option bar without the mouse (at least non that I could find), and that is the case in many applications / sites. Selecting categories or setting publish date requires the use of the mouse as well.

I have tried using a trackball for a while, and that didn't reduce any wrist pain, if anything, it simply moved them from one place to another.

Any recommendation on a good mouse to use?

I have heard about data-hands, and I am interesting in taking them for a spin, but the cost is really prohibitive, and I am not going to even try that without seeing clear benefits out of this.

Comments

Matt G
08/24/2007 09:55 PM by
Matt G

What I would really like to try is the foot mouse: www.footmouse.com

I like the idea of not wasting time moving my hand from keyboard to mouse, which is not a problem in Visual Studio, but becomes difficult to avoid when navigating/testing a web application.

It's a bit pricey though. And the quality of the web site makes me wonder about the quality of the product...

Chris Brandsma
08/24/2007 10:03 PM by
Chris Brandsma

We all need to become like Zimbu (from Dilbert) so we can operate the mouse with our tail.

For myself, I'm kind of a big guy (6'2"), I just go for the largest mouse I can find and that works.

I also use that keyboard and absolutely love it.. Apparently Jeff Attwood likes it as well (shown in an image).

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000770.html

David Hayden
08/24/2007 10:05 PM by
David Hayden

I started to have problems with my wrists a year ago and bought a couple of carpal tunnel braces for my wrists that I wear while working on the computer and the problem has gone away. The braces were at first awkward, but now I forget they are even there. Your mileage may vary but it appears to have worked for me.

Luke Breuer
08/24/2007 10:06 PM by
Luke Breuer

Have you thought of using a tablet? I switched to a Wacom Intuos3 6"x8" tablet last year and I love it. It is USD$330 off the manufacturer's website, but it helped significantly with wrist/arm pain. I think it may actually be faster than using a mouse after you're used to its absolute positioning. You could probably get by with a 4x5 ($230); I got the bigger one for work because of my 2x20" and 1x30". If you want a cheaper, not as nice version, you could go for Wacom's Graphire 4x5, which is $100.

The tablet will not work if you use Synergy (http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/) the last time I checked, in case you use that.

Alex B
08/24/2007 10:10 PM by
Alex B

This looks like it would be very comfortable on the wrist:

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2149559,00.asp

The Coding Hillbilly
08/25/2007 01:25 AM by
The Coding Hillbilly

I recently bought Microsoft's Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 (http://kyle.baley.org/ct.ashx?id=070ad8e4-bb56-42f7-b181-42d43635cbf0&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.microsoft.com%2fhardware%2fmouseandkeyboard%2fproductdetails.aspx%3fpid%3d086).

It's okay but I don't think I'd recommend it highly. Comments are here: http://kyle.baley.org/ProductReviewsOrHowToEaseBuyersRemorse.aspx

I'd look into Evoluent's Vertical Mouse. Might be worth a test-drive but since you likely don't spend a lot of time with your hand on a mouse, it might be more cumbersome to get your hand into that position every time you're forced to use it.

Joe Cheng [MSFT]
08/25/2007 02:04 AM by
Joe Cheng [MSFT]

In Writer, try playing with F6 and Tab; you can get to the options on the right once you figure it out. :)

John Rusk
08/25/2007 04:25 AM by
John Rusk

Have you tried one of these keyboards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinesis_(keyboard) ?

I've been using one for about 6 years now. Very good.

Mark Monster
08/25/2007 06:53 AM by
Mark Monster

I'm using a simple tablet for almost 3 years now. I'm using the Wacom Graphire 3, only as a mouse. http://www.wacom-europe.com/int/products/graphire4/index.asp?lang=en&pdx=10

Francois
08/25/2007 08:23 AM by
Francois

Ever tried going out with some friends on Friday and Saturday night? That usually works great for wrist pain! :)

(I also have MSFT natural keyboard BTW and would never go back).

(I really like you blog too!)

Tobin Harris
08/25/2007 03:00 PM by
Tobin Harris

I switched to the Kensington Expert Mouse (a trackball) a few years ago after getting wrist pains. It's eliminated those now, and I did a full review here:

http://www.tobinharris.com/2007/2/5/adopting-the-kensington-expert-mouse

I also did a follow up review after using it for 1 year.

http://www.tobinharris.com/2007/4/21/the-kensington-expert-mouse-1-year-later

That natural keybaord looks great, but the data hands look amazing (if not a bit insane!). I wander if I'll get away with this in my office :)

http://www.timthelion.com/cgi-bin/blosxom.cgi/datahands.html

Chris Constantin
08/25/2007 09:22 PM by
Chris Constantin

This site has a good collection of mice and keyboards: http://www.ergocanada.com/

I switched to the Evoluent vertical mouse (http://www.ergocanada.com/products/mice/evoluent.html) and Kinesis Maxim keyboard (http://www.ergocanada.com/products/keyboards/kinesis_maxim.html) a couple of years ago, and I didn't have any wrist pain since.

Matthew Martin
08/26/2007 03:16 PM by
Matthew Martin

I've been using that exact keyboard with no pain for two years. Life hacker has been feeding the world a steady stream of mouse free tips and utilities:

http://lifehacker.com/software/mouser/hack-attack-more-on-mouseless-navigation-217420.php

Hanselman likes the vertical mouse:

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/DiggingTheNewVerticalMouseHelpingMyCarpalTunnel.aspx

Kirk Jackson
08/27/2007 11:16 AM by
Kirk Jackson

I'm a big fan of the 3M ergonomic mouse. I also use the same keyboard as you, and it's definitely the best I've used.

http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/ergonomics/home/products/ergonomicmouse/

If your wrist feels sore when you rotate it from it's natural position to sit on a regular mouse, this one may be for you.

I've gone completely mouse-less a couple of times. It's possible if you use the number pad as a mouse - Ctrl Shift NumLock.

http://www.microsoft.com/enable/training/windowsvista/mousekeys.aspx

http://www.ucandoit.org.uk/knowledgebase/stickmousekeys.html

It's not that much fun, but a good skill to master anyway, in case you're stuck in front of a computer with a dead mouse :)

Kirk

Jon Galloway
08/29/2007 11:02 PM by
Jon Galloway

I've got a Wacom Graphire 6x8 tablet, which works great. I'm a big fan of having a variety of pointing devices, since variety is the antidote for repetitive stress injury.

I wrote a bit about my experience with the tablet here: http://weblogs.asp.net/jgalloway/archive/2006/06/14/Mouseless-Computing.aspx

Sergio Pereira
08/31/2007 11:15 PM by
Sergio Pereira

The things that have always disappointed me in non-vanilla keyboards are the rearrangement of the center cluster (pgup/dwn, del, ins, etc), the rearrangement of the Fn keys (not in groups of 4) and the "F" switch. This keyboard at least sticks with the traditional center cluster layout. I might give it a try.

Søren Spelling Lund
09/01/2007 07:22 AM by
Søren Spelling Lund

I think the better question to ask is how to use your mouse rather than which ones to use. With the level of use we put into a mouse every single one is going to cause problems.

As a consequence I've training my left hand to use a leftie mouse so I can switch back and forth. I prefer to keep the mouse in my left hand at work and when I get home I use my right. Even wear and tear, I've not had a single problem knock knock.

For my left hand I use a Logitech MX610 and for my right hand I use a MX Revolution also from Logitech.

Chris Hynes
09/01/2007 05:09 PM by
Chris Hynes

I use the ms natural keyboard 4000 as well, and love it. The mouse I use is the G5 laser mouse from logitech (http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/mice_pointers/mice/devices/359&cl=us,en). It's worked very well for me. I'm with Søren on the "ambimousdrous". I taught myself to use a mouse with either hand 10 years ago, and haven't had any issues in that time. I switch back and forth frequently, and find some tasks are best optimised for left handed mouse use and some for right handed mouse use. That's one reason I chose the G5 -- you can use it as either a left handed or right handed mouse.

Mischa Kroon
09/02/2007 11:27 AM by
Mischa Kroon

What I've done vs wrist pains:

Use a trackball with a large ball at work and keep on using a mouse at home.

This makes you use different kinds of movements for controlling your pointer.

I would personally recommend against drawing tablets because they tend to cost to much time to switch to and from.

Comments have been closed on this topic.