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BellaOnline's Ergonomics Editor

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Mouses and Mousing

Guest Author - virginia hixson

If you use a desktop computer or a laptop, mousing is one of the things you do many, many times during the day. The task itself is generally short and does not need to be forceful. Mouses are designed to be low force instruments.

Mousing and keyboard entry are both odd occupations. Except in pure data entry jobs, much of the time is actually spent in thinking or in waiting for an operation to complete. These can be down-times for your hands.

Mouses have different shapes and sizes. In most cases, a standard mouse will work well – a simple oval about 4 or 5 inches long with a few buttons at the finger end. Sometimes, for increased function, a lot of buttons are included. Remember, the more complex the physical layout, the harder it will be on your fingers and hands. Buttons on the side of the mouse generally result in awkward palm, finger or wrist position.

Scrolling

A scroll wheel may be fine to use, but it depends on how you use it. If you keep your hand planted on the mouse, moving your index finger over so it hovers over the scroll, and make it a pure finger motion, you have changed the formation of the palmar arch, and as the finger scrolls it will generally be moving into and out of a position of hyperextension. Over an extended session or done repeatedly through the day, this may create an issue. How much of an issue depends in large part on what you do with your hand when you are not scrolling.

Wired vs Wireless

Generally, a wireless mouse requires less effort and is less of a problem than a wired version. Unless the mouse is set up so that free cord movement is possible, force requirements are unpredictable and often constrain motion. This becomes more of a problem as the mouse ages and the cord stiffens.

Trackball?

Mouses are generally better than trackballs. Trackballs often lead the user into awkward wrist positions and require excessive thumb or index use. The thumb, in particular is at risk. This is especially true in nowadays, when texting and use of small input devices is so popular. The thumb gets enough work.

General Technique

Don’t let your fingers hover over the keyboard or the mouse. At first you may need to put your hands in your lap in order to teach yourself to let your hands rest – but there really is no needed action. This is true whether you are doing composition, CAD, web design, or working on a database.

Simple Mousing Tips:

1. Move the mouse using your shoulder, not your elbow or wrist.

2. Keep your elbow close to your body. Move the mouse side to side by rotating from the shoulder.

3. Relax your arm by your side. Bend your elbow to 90° or less pointing straight forward. The elbow should touch your waist. Do not reach forward. The mouse should be placed on the desk as close to the place your hand ends up as possible.

4. Do not pinch or grip the mouse. If you find yourself doing this, you may need a larger mouse.

5. Rest your fingers on the mouse. Do not let them hover over the buttons. This may take a bit of practice, but the buttons can will not be triggered unless you are using too much force.

6. Pick a mouse that feels comfortable in your hand.

7. Train yourself to be a switch – hitter. Alternate between using your right and left hand to mouse.

8. If you use a long keyboard with a number-pad on the right, you will be better off to primarily use the Left for mousing. If you use your right hand, either the keyboard or the mouse will not be in good alignment.

9. Pay attention to what happens when you switch between the keyboard and mouse or mouse and keyboard. Is it an easy, smooth motion? If not, experiment with your set-up until you can create a good work pattern.

10. A lot of mouse movement can be accomplished by moving your trunk, swaying or moving backward and forward. Working on this technique will decrease the strain on your shoulders, arms and hands.






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Content copyright © 2013 by virginia hixson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by virginia hixson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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