Wise Women List Archive File
Avoiding Mousing Injuries
Any recommendations from others about how to reduce mouse usage and resulting pain/injuries working with all these programs and graphics? Someone last week at a conference suggested using a Wacom pen/tablet as an alternative to the mouse.
Make sure that your desk/work surface is not too high. With your elbows at your side, your forearm should be at a 90-degree angle when you hold the mouse. If it's too high, even a bit, your wrist and arm can start to hurt after a while.
Our chiropractor taught us each to do a little wrist alignment on the other, and we've found it to be very helpful. It involves flexing the wrist while pressing down on the [i think it's called] lunate bone in the middle of the wrist joint. This is the bone whcih presses down on nerves causing pain. If you have a good chiropractor who is willing to teach you and a partner the process, it will be very helpful. Our doc also taught us some good stretches.
First, I use a large Kensington trackball, mounted low - so low that I had to remove one arm from my chair. The trackball is about 8 inches from my left knee (I'm left-handed). I manipulate the trackball more with my thumb than my fingers, which reduces the stress even more - and frees my fingers for the buttons around the trackball, which I've programmed with frequently-used commands - copy, paste and undo in particular.
The large size of the ball makes precise cursor movements easy....I've tried the tiny trackballs and touchpads and found that the tiny input movements they demand caused me to hold my hand and fingers tensed rather than relaxed, which aggravate my problems.
I have an ottoman under the desk, so my feet are up. My chair allows me to go to a emi-reclining position (simply by tilting; it is NOT a recliner where the back changes angle relative to the seat.)
For drawing, I use a Kurta 12x12 tablet I got cheap on EBay. When I use my PowerBook I use my Wacom 4x5. Because I use the Kurta with a dual-monitor setup, I actually have about the same actual drawing area on the big tablet as the small one. I no longer attempt freehand drawing with a mouse OR trackball. It's not natural and your body will let you know that it isn't happy trying to draw that way.
Couple of things, There is a point of ergomatic positions and placement, however continued repetitive movement of any kind will lead to pain. And this mouse this-I call it mousitis. What I suspect has helped is the "change" you made. Doing things different. Using your muscles different from before and not leaning into the computer.
I can always be found from time to time with my left leg on my desk, my back against back of tilted chair. (How will I ever be in corporate.) I have found it is important to change and shift your positions from time to time. Set a timer, get up and stretch, walk, go to the bathroom, get water. I started a new class today and at one point I got up to stretch (crack) my spine. I caught my classmate looking at me oddly and I remembered I was at a new place. In my past job people got used to me stretching and sometimes even did so themselves.
Try this. Raise your arms overhead, palms facing behind you. Think of placing your arms at the numbers of the clock. Start at 11 and 1, then 10 and 2. Hold each for about a minute feeling and allowing the stretch. Stretch those pecs. Put those hands behind you, clasp and pull down.
Feel the stretch. I used to stand up and hold on one of the walls of my cubicle and just stretch my body away. Move. Stretch your joints. Put your arms straight out in front of you palms down, wrist flat. Keeping arms parallel to the floor, pull your fingers back, then your palms. I want you to feel a stretch between the fingers and your palms, then your wrists. Do this slowly.
Ok, if you don't like these ideas, get a massage. Or do both. Please remember to gentle with yourself-the degree of stretch doesn't have to be perfect the first time.
These are a few ideas. And I have just bought the cheaper Waccom tablet-I'm hoping even though it has about half the capabilities of the more expensive ones, it will have sensitivity and clarity. And I know it will help.
I became "Mousydextrous" in 1992.
I probably average 2 weeks a hand before I switch - I try to make the move before I hurt. Switching that often, I only have an hour or so of feeling all thumbs before it is natural again. Interesting thing is ... takes me just as long to get used to using my right after using my left for a while as it does in reverse. I can do anything with my left that I do with my right, including selections and drawing.
My mouse sits on a high stool. I found that this was the best solution for me, since I can move it wherever is the most comfortable no matter how I am sitting. I also try to adjust my working height incrementally when I am on a long run. Doesn't take much to make a difference - even a 1/2" change can make a difference.
Learning to work with both hands is highly recommended to anyone who spends long hours with the mouse.
Many good suggestions here. I faced the same thing. I even had a physical therapist come to my home and help me properly adjust my work station. There are lots of web sites that describe ways of adjusting your computer screen, keyboard, chair tilt and height, etc.
The thing that saved me the most was my Kensington trackball..the big one. Had to set it so I wasn't reaching for it. Also use a wrist rest with it to keep my wrist parallel.
Have a wrist rest with the keyboard too. And use as many keyboard shortcuts as possible. It worked miracles for me! Good luck.
I use a variety of mousing devices: a regular old mouse, a vertical mouse (which I have really come to love) and a wacom tablet/pen. I tried a trackball, but it was really uncomfortable for me to use. When my hand/arm/shoulder start to bother me, I switch devices. I also make liberal use of this little gelpad thing that I stick in the freezer when I'm working long stretches. Really seems to help.
We're looking into the adjustable forearm rests for my S.O. ...she's been doing too much typing lately, and it looks as though the forearm rests will help her immensely.
I have 3 ergonomic product URLs.
I use a wrist brace (available at grocery and drug stores on my mouse hand). But I've found a good substitute is a gel wrist rest--not the kind that comes attached to a mouse pad as the pad is too short for my Logitech mouse. It's just a small oval gel rest that can be used with a calculator or anything else. I put it in front of the mousepad (which is turned longways due to the mouse length).
Speaking from (painful) experience, some wrist braces are better than others. I love, love, love the HandEze fingerless gloves http://www.handeze.com/. I don't have any affiliation with the company itself, except that I've spent a lot of money on the gloves over the years.
I also use a big gel pad wrist rest in front of my keyboard. I tried using a hard foam one, but the soft gel ones seem to work better for me.
I tried the Microsoft Natural keyboard that many people love, but I hated it. My typing speed went way down when I tried using it, and it doesn't seem to have come back even though I've switched off it (to a Macally iMedia, for anyone who cares) several months ago.
I also recommend getting a good chair. They're expensive, but spend the money. Chairs can be replaced; your forearms can't. You can get great deals on used Aerons from .coms going out of business; just make sure that you get the right size for your build.
I wanted to let people know that I have a really nice mouse pad from Belkin called an ErgoPad. It's kind of fat and large but it's wonderful. I think you can check out www.belkin.com. I am not sure. I also use a scroll mouse which is great.
I also have a gel keyboard wrist support pad.
I've been using a "natural" keyboard since mid '92 when the first one was released at CeBIT. The Microsoft one didn't yet exist at that time ;). It took me about two days to get accustomed to it, and it has improved my typing a lot as well as kept RSI problems at bay. I had to switch to other brands when that German company stopped the keyboard production due to the much less expensive MS version and have used a Lenco as well as the MS one. It's worth a try.
I can't type as fast, as error-free and as painless on a "normal" keyboard anymore, and whenever I have to use my laptop's usual keyboard I have to take care not to put too much time and effort into it or the pain comes back.
When it comes to "mousing" I use the large Logitech MouseMan, which has been a real help over the years because of its size. I have large hands, and they always cramped with smaller mice. With the big ones all of my hand can rest on it.