How to Prevent RSI with the Keyboard

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Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is now very common in office workers - find out here how to reduce the risks of developing RSI at work.

Upright Ergonomic Mouse

Upright Ergonomic Mouse

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is not looked on as a dangerous or painful injury, however anyone who has ever had RSI will know the painful extent of the injury

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is not looked on as a dangerous or painful injury, however anyone who has ever had RSI will know the painful extent of the injury. RSI is related to the overuse of muscles and tendons in the upper body caused through repetitive activities or intense high activity without rest.

RSI mainly affects office workers by not being able to type properly, sit properly or even be comfortable while working. But there are steps in which to prevent RSI from developing:

1. Natural Wrist Typing:

If the keyboard being used is badly adjusted, typing positions can change and hence become more difficult to type with. When using keyboards which are used by multiple people the keyboard may not be adjusted to the correct height, ensure the keyboard is adjusted before use.

When typing wrists should be in a natural position ensuring that they are not bending out towards the little finger nor in towards the thumb.

If the keyboard is raised, there will be a tendency to bend the wrists back while typing, which is also a common cause of RSI – ensure the keyboard is completely comfortable and adjusted to the correct height.

2. Adjust the Keyboard:

Many people believe that because keyboards have a height adjustment on the rear of the keyboard that this should be raised. This is NOT true.

The correct keyboard height is the position which makes it easiest to type, which should be where the keyboard is flat or below elbow level. If the keyboard does not adjust to this height, then a natural as possible position should be maintained.

Another tendency while typing is to rest the wrists on a hard desk while taking a break from typing – do NOT do this.

Purchasing a gel wrist rest is better to support the wrists while taking a break – however these are commonly used incorrectly as a wrist rest should not be used while typing, only when taking a break.

3. Change your Mouse

All through this article, one common denominator in reducing RSI is ensuring that the wrist has a natural typing position and this does not change with the mouse. Computer mice are now created for ease of use, with upright mice being available to prevent the wrist being turned, keeping it in a natural sideways position while in use.

Using a standard mouse design can be more damaging in relation to RSI than typing during excessive use. Double clicking and dragging while holding down mouse buttons can be especially straining. Recommended solutions for excessive use of mouse click buttons would be to use a trackball – with the advantage of the mouse being stationary so the whole arm does not have to be manoeuvred to move the pointer across the screen, reducing strain on the arm, neck and back.

As much as computer equipment showcase high risks of developing RSI, there is work that an office employee can do to prevent the risk of developing RSI, including:

  • Taking regular breaks
  • Having good sitting and working posture
  • Having an ergonomically optimised workstation to reduce avoidable strain on the body
  • Exercise and stretch regularly
  • Ask for help if you need it.

Keyboard Specialists (KBS) supply many keyboards and mice which are ergonomically friendly to support with prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury and are able to advise the best equipment to use for each unique individual.
Contact our KBS advice team on 0203 474 0234 for more information on the prevention of RSI and how we can help.

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Georgia Elwell

Georgia Elwell
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