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BellaOnline's Ergonomics Editor

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Pain-Free Mousing

Guest Author - Marji Hajic


When performing ergonomic assessments, the main factors that I have found that contribute to mousing pain include:
  • Mouse Positioning
  • Mouse Movement
  • Muscular Tension When Using the Mouse
  • Forearm Positioning on the Mouse

Here are some tips to help reduce your risk of developing a repetitive strain injury or tendonitis from mouse use.


MOUSE POSITIONING

Causes of Pain

  • Reaching forward for the mouse onto a desk that is higher than the keyboard.
  • Reaching for a mouse placed to the far side of the keyboard.
  • Planting the wrist down and swiveling the mouse using wrist motion.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • Position the mouse in a more comfortable and ergonomic location
    • Use an attachable mouse holder that adjusts to fit over numerical key pad (if you do not use the 10-key) or as closely to it as possible.
    • Or use a keyboard bridge over the numerical keys if you do not use the 10-key portion of the keyboard.
    • Or use a keyboard station such as the Contour Roller Pro which has a rollerbar mouse that is positioned immediately below the space bar of the keyboard.

MOUSE MOVEMENT

Causes of Pain
  • Excessive wrist or arm movement when activating the mouse.
  • Planting the wrist down placing pressure against the carpal tunnel.
  • The wrist bent backward (estended) when using the mouse.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • The mouse should be at about the same level of the keyboard and positioned as closely to the keyboard as possible.
  • Avoid reaching forward, up, or out to the side when using the mouse. Position the mouse to avoid these movements (see mouse positioning tips).
  • Activate the mouse by using small movements from the shoulder and elbow muscles rather than the wrist muscles.

Ergonomics
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed.
  • The elbow should be held loosely at the side in a direct line under the shoulder.
  • The wrist should be held in a neutral position (not bent forward or back or angled to one side or the other).
  • Do not plant the wrist down on that desk or on a wrist rest. Glide the wrist over surfaces always maintaining the neutral position.

MUSCULAR TENSION WHEN USING THE MOUSE

Causes of Pain
  • Forcefully squeezing the mouse between the thumb and small finger.
  • Forcefully activating the mouse buttons or switches.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • Hold the mouse as lightly as you can while still maintaining control.
  • Keep the fingers held loosely against buttons and switches, not floating tensely in the air.
  • Do not pound mouse buttons or forcefully squeeze switches. Use only the lightest force necessary to activate controls.
  • Using a wireless mouse can eliminate the tension of pulling against the cord (even these small tensions add up by the end of the day).
  • Use a mouse and mouse pad that can be switched easily from right to left hand to share the work load between the two hands.
  • A keyboard station such as the Contour Roller Pro that incorporates a rollerbar mouse eliminates the need to hold the mouse.
  • Research mousing options such as the NoHands foot-activated mouse or a head-activated mouse placed in a baseball cap.
  • Perform forearm and wrist stretches throughout the day.
  • Gently stretch the thumb into the �hitch-hiking� position.

FOREARM POSITIONING

Causes of Pain
  • The forearm rotated into the palm-down position for long periods of time.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • Vertical mice are good choices as the �hand shake� position with the forearm neutral rather than palm down can relieve forearm stress.
  • Stretch into the palm-up position throughout the day.
Related Articles

Ergonomic ABCs

The Wrist and Repetitive Strain Injuries

DeQuervain�s Tenosynovitis � Repetitive Strain Thumb Pain

Marji Hajic is an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.


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Content copyright © 2014 by Marji Hajic. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Marji Hajic. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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