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If you work behind a desk, you should know that keyboards and keyboard ergonomics are a major contributor to postural decline and dysfunctional movement. Unfortunately, it may be a little difficult to do your job without one, so you can’t just throw it out unless you have the option to use dictation which I’m all for! This blog is all about minimizing the damage done as a result of using a keyboard and every little step makes a huge difference in the long run.

What is Keyboard Ergonomics?

First, let’s briefly discuss what the term ergonomics even means and why so many things are marketed as such. According to the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, “Ergonomics is a science-based discipline that brings together knowledge from other subjects such as anatomy and physiology, psychology, engineering and statistics to ensure that designs complement the strengths and abilities of people and minimize the effects of their limitations.” 

So when it comes to keyboards, the design should be such that you can type all day long without your wrists or hands hurting so much that you need to stop production. I will say that no matter how ergonomically sound your keyboard and desk set-up are, taking micro-breaks is 100% necessary to decrease stress injuries and unwanted muscle tension. In other words, the damage is from sitting all day and staring at a computer regardless of how GREAT your desk, chair, keyboard, and mouse are.

Now, the design of the keyboard, aside from the width, is not a major concern compared to the placement and how you use it. Which brings me to the next section: Are the price tags of “ergonomic keyboards” worth it?

Should I Buy an Ergonomic Keyboard?

An ergonomic keyboard should be what works best for you and is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. I’ve seen plenty of pricey “ergonomic keyboards” that in my opinion, don’t do anything different (the ones with wrist pads for example). Wrist pads do not do anything for carpal tunnel syndrome or wrist pain that results from too much typing, unlike what most people think.

If you’re shopping for a keyboard and are looking to improve your keyboard ergonomics you want to make sure you get a wireless keyboard (or at least a keyboard with a long enough cord) so that you can have the freedom to move it where it needs to be. This is especially important when it comes to working with a laptop!

If you want to work with what you already have here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure your keyboard is as wide or close to the width of your shoulders!! Otherwise, your typing will work one of the 3 heads of your triceps only which then means a slouched posture (Yep your slouched posture and your arms are very connected)
  • Always have your keyboard centered to your body. This means if you have a number pad on the side, but you don’t really use it, then only the letter portion should be centered to you to minimize the unnecessary twisting of the torso.
  • Your keyboard should be placed at a level that when you’re typing, your elbows and wrists are on the same line. One is not higher than the other. This will require coordination between your desk height, chair height, and may require a keyboard tray. I suggest you reference my blog on The Best Desk Ergonomics to make those necessary adjustments.
  • When you are not typing put your hands down! Do not leave your hands sitting on your desk. This only increases neck and shoulder tension. 
  • If you do too much ‘mousing’, put the mouse on a clipboard and the clipboard on your lap!
  • Make sure you Do NOT squeeze your elbows on your side.
  • Make sure your elbows have plenty of wiggle room,  otherwise you will be created tension on the top of your shoulders.

What is the Best Ergonomic Keyboard for Mac

Mac has very sleek looking keyboards and I do love mine myself, as you can see in the video below, but they are not necessarily the most functional, and here’s why:

If you’re using a keyboard that is too small for your build, this will impact your shoulders, elbows, and wrists resulting in what is called Dysfunctional Movement.

How Your Keyboard is Ruining Your Posture 

Having an ergonomic keyboard is not a replacement for functional movement exercises and the work that NEEDS to be done to combat this sedentary lifestyle of living behind a computer. The term functional movement is referring to the natural design and development for movement that we are all hardwired with at birth and develop throughout our first year of life.

Pain and dysfunction result when we deviate from this natural design, like sitting behind a desk all day. Specifically when it comes to the dysfunction of the shoulders, elbows, and wrists your keyboard is a big contributor. 

No matter how ergonomic your desk set-up is, you have to put in the work to remain functional and combat your sedentary lifestyle. This is where Postural Neurology and Developmental Kinesiology or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) are the most effective choices. 

Postural Neurology is how we can map and track the function of specific parts of your brain in regards to movement and posture. DNS on the other hand is a functional rehab based on the innate map of movement that we are all born with. If you think about it, all babies regardless of their geographical location, and many differences, go through the same developmental patterns and movements because we are all designed to move that way. That is like the apps that come with your smartphone that you cannot delete. DNS exercises are all based on those innate concepts of movement.

It does not take much to modify this map of movement in the brain, resulting in dysfunctional movement which is why it’s important to do things like the exercise below daily to maintain proper function and is why fixing your keyboard ergonomics is only one part of what it takes to minimize the occurrence of shoulder pain, elbow pain, and wrist pain.

If you want to make sure you’re doing everything right while you are working at your desk, to minimize the damage use my Ergonomic Awareness Checklist and visit my Youtube Channel where I have the Ergonomic Playlist (full of things you need to be aware of) and the  Functional Movement Exercises Playlist that’s packed with exercises to undo some of the damage imposed as a result of your sitting. 

If you have any questions, please contact the office and do know that you are the Designer and the Director of your own life so design and direct it the way you wish to live it.

Dr. Shakib