Mouse Ergonomics

by Charles H. Booras, M.D.

1/17/98

Adapted from Logitech MouseMan Users Guide

Whether you spend five minutes or five hours using your mouse or trackball, these suggestions can help you stay comfortable and productive.

Recent research suggests that long periods of repetitive tasks or an improperly set-up workspace may lead to physical discomfort or injury to hands, wrists, arms, neck, or back. If you feel pain, numbness, weakness, swelling, burning, cramping, or stiffness in these areas, see a qualified health professional.

Use these tips to maximize your comfort.

Make sure that your workspace is set up properly...

Your keyboard should be directly in front of you with your mouse or trackball sitting next to it. Your elbow should be next to your side. Place your mouse or trackball within easy reach.

You do not need to use a mouse pad with a high- performance mouse. If you choose to use a mouse pad anyway, be sure to consider the thickness of the mouse pad when you set up your workspace, because a mouse pad may raise your mouse higher than your elbow.

Do…

Keep your shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands relaxed and comfortable as you work...

To keep your shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands relaxed as you work, let them hang loosely at your sides for a moment, allowing them to dangle toward the floor and to become relaxed. Try to maintain this relaxed feeling while you work.

When you are ready to use your mouse or trackball, avoid resting your wrists on sharp edges, or on your desktop.

As you use your mouse or trackball, make sure that your elbow is next to your side. Keep your wrist relaxed and straight - don't bend it up, down, or to either side. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Do not hunch or shrug.

Take Breaks…

Get up and walk around at least twice every hour. Some studies suggest staying too long in one position - or repeating the same motion many times - may cause discomfort and injury. Do something different with your hands and arms for a while. Vary your tasks throughout the day.

Rest your hand lightly on the mouse or trackball…

You'll find it easier and more comfortable to get the control you want if you're not squeezing the mouse or trackball too tightly.

Be alert to signs of discomfort…

Contact a doctor if you experience pain, tenderness, swelling, burning, cramping, stiffness, or numbness in your fingers, hands, wrists, arms, or shoulders.

See also Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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