Now that mousing is more commonplace – even more so than keyboarding sometimes – it is important to have good mousing technique. Without good technique, you put yourself at risk for pain and discomfort which may turn into musculoskeletal injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are some tips to help you stay comfortable and pain-free while mousing (for clarity, this is based on right-handed users – my apologies to the left-handed users):
1. Adjust the height of your keyboard and mouse tray so that your elbows are at 90 degrees of flexion. This eliminates the constant need for the neck and shoulder muscles to raise your right arm to desk level to reach the mouse.
2. When mousing more frequently than keyboarding, move your chair and monitor a few inches to the right so that you’re not reaching as much with your right arm. An even better option is to get a keyboard where the numeric keypad is on the left or is eliminated completely. That way you don’t have to reach past the keypad causing overuse and awkward postures.
3. Don’t hover over the mouse when you’re not using it. Rest your hand lightly on the mouse or take it away completely.
4. Don’t use a mouse pad with a gel support – the support places more pressure on the wrist and carpal tunnel. Instead, change your mousing posture. Mouse with the right side of the palm resting on the mouse pad. Pressure is now being placed on an area with less nerve and blood supply and more protection from the cushioning fat of the palm.
5. Move your mouse to very edge of keyboard tray closest to you so that your wrists are free floating and cannot rest on the tray.
6. Take breaks from keyboarding and/or mousing frequently to reduce cramping and increase blood supply. Walk around the office once every 30-60 minutes.
7. Alternate tasks every 15-30 minutes throughout the day. Try to break up extended periods of computer work with phone calls, meetings or reading tasks.
8. Try to using your left hand for mousing to give your right hand a break. To change your mouse to a left-handed mouse – go to Start, Control Panel, Mouse.
9. Use short cut keyboard keys to reduce mouse use. To make your own shortcut keys – go to View, Toolbars, Customize, Commands, Keyboard.
10. Consider getting a vertical mouse or a joystick. These mice place your hand in a handshake posture, eliminating the awkward posture of wrist pronation.