How Do I Choose A Computer Keyboard?

We all know that sitting for hours on end at our desks leaves us at risk from lower back pain, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), tension headaches and eye strain. So you have the ergonomically adjusted chair and the height adjustable desk and screen but what about one of the most important parts of your desk layout – your keyboard?[clear]
You use your keyboard all day long but have you really thought about how much your keyboard could be damaging your health and adding extra clutter to your desk? Are you using the correct computer keyboard? Do you ulna deviate or type round the corner?
[clear] Key points to consider
[clear] There is a lot to think about when choosing a keyboard as it is not only important to choose the correct type of keyboard/input device but also position it so that your body is in the optimal position to use it effectively and efficiently and with a minimal risk to musculoskeletal health. You also need to consider your type of workload – do you data input or do lots of typing?
[clear] Here are some key points to consider when choosing your keyboard:

  • Available desk space
  • Your posture
  • Potential wrist, neck and shoulder problems
  • Shortcuts and extra functions to avoid using your mouse
  • Height and angle adjustability
  • Comfort
  • Whether you need a wrist rest
  • Wired or wireless device
  • Number pads detached or attached
  • Bluetooth or USB
[clear] Problems to look out for – Ulna Deviation[clear]ulnar-deviation
[clear] Ulna deviation also known as ‘typing round a corner’ is where the wrist deviates towards the little finger (ulna bone in forearm). It tends to be more common among users of keyboards rather than laptop users as there is no number pad on a laptop. Symptoms can be increased tension in the extensor and abductor muscles of the forearm which can lead to pain and is the most common site for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
[clear] It can be corrected by centering the letter part of the keyboard to the user i.e. putting the space bar in the middle rather than typing off to the left.
[clear] Which type of keyboard?
[clear] Standard keyboards if used correctly should suit the majority of people but there are plenty of options to consider depending on your type of workload, size of your desk layout, and any RSI issues such as ulna deviation, you may be experiencing.
[clear] Mini Keyboard
[clear] mini keyboard (300x300)
Mini keyboards don’t have a number pad which reduces the distance you need to stretch to reach your mouse, preventing problems with mouse use (see our blog next month!) and also takes up less room on a desk.
[clear] Ergonomic Keyboards
[clear] curved keyboard
Ergonomic keyboards are useful for users with early signs or RSI or who have a history of RSI problems. There are several different types of ergonomic keyboard which all offer the benefits of wellbeing and productivity.
[clear] Both Hands Keyboard
[clear] Bothhands_keyboard-300x300
Another solution if you frequently experience RSI is a both hands keyboard which allows both of your hands equal and comfortable access to the entire keyboard with the number pad positioned on the left allowing closer access to the mouse on your right. Aligning your body and arms can be crucial in preventing RSI in the wrist, neck and shoulders.
[clear] Voice Recognition
[clear] voice recognition
Another option for users who find it painful to type and who perform a large amount of typing is a voice recognition keyboard which allows you to control your keyboard and mouse using just your voice.
[clear] When choosing a new keyboard it is important to not only take the factors above into account but to also view the keyboard as one part of your workstation setup. If your chair is the wrong height then your wrist will not be at the correct angle to use the keyboard (even if it is the perfect keyboard for you to perform your specific tasks efficiently).
[clear] It’s a bit like putting F1 tyres on a Robin Reliant – a smart ergonomic keyboard will not help if it is on an unsuitable desk with an equally unsuitable chair.
[clear] If you are still undecided or need more advice on your workstation set up, our osteopath trained expert Tim Hanwell is happy to give advice. Please email us or use our contact page