The benefits of ergonomic keyboards are not all that well-known. In fact, many people don’t even know what an ergonomic keyboard is! By now, we all probably know sitting correctly into your chair can I have extremely positive effects on your posture and overall health. But did you know that your keyboard could be negatively impacting on your posture? Not only that, it could also be detrimental to your productivity and comfort too.
Do you want to learn what an ergonomic keyboard is in simple terms? More importantly, do you want to learn how an ergonomic keyboard could not only make your life more productive, but also help eradicate wrist or back pain?
Well, let me share with you the benefits of an ergonomic keyboard in a few short minutes. Let’s get started…
1. Greater comfort
2. Boosts productivity
3. Minimise wrist strain and discomfort
4. Helps improve posture
5. Increases typing speed
6. Easier to use
7. Increased responsiveness
But before we delve into the benefits, let’s discover…
What is an ergonomic keyboard?
Ergonomics is the science associated with understanding the interaction between humans and their environment so that it can be optimized. In simple terms, it means making the job fit the person, as opposed fitting the person to the job. For example, we all know by now that the height of an office chair can be adjusted so that you can position your body in a comfortable position while achieving the best posture. This should mean you’re not straining your body or having to crouch or sit in a chair without a lumbar support. All these features can reduce the risk of injury increase productivity comfort.
In terms of an ergonomic keyboard, the keyboard is designed to fit YOU as opposed to you having to adjust your hands and wrist to fit the keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards typically are designed to accommodate a wide population and have a range of benefits other than those related to posture.
As opposed to a conventional style keyboard, ergonomic keyboards achieve greater productivity and minimize discomfort and strain by adjusting the design of the keyboard itself. Typically, there are three types of ergonomic keyboards:
Split keyboards: Are split down the middle to allow adequate spacing of your hands while you are typing. They sometimes also include a separate numeric pad.
Contoured keyboards: Have a wavy shape designed to optimize your arm position while typing.
Angled keyboards: Have an inclined feature which allows them to be elevated in the centre to the angle that suits a neutral wrist posture. This feature eliminates the user having to flatten the wrists to reach buttons in the centre of the keyboard. These keyboards can also be inclined towards the front of the keyboard.
Did you know? Almost half of people who work with computers suffer from repetitive strain injury symptoms.
Since ergonomic keyboards are designed to fit the users naturally posture, a greater sense of comfort is achieved as the user does not need to manipulate their body to adjust to the design of a conventional keyboard. For the majority of people at an office, they will be typing for a large portion of their day and this can become tiring, particularly if typing for long periods at a time.
Since the keyboard is designed with the user in mind, and as we just mentioned, keys are locations strategically to minimize reaching, it makes the process of typing much more easy to complete and with added comfort. If you think about it logically, with enhanced user comfort and less reaching, you can type faster and thus perform the work at a much more advanced speed.
Furthermore, if you require less rest breaks because you have greater comfort when using an ergonomic keyboard, that also minimizes the amount of time spend taking breaks.
For those of you who have completed a test to determine how many words you can type, it could be worthwhile (not to mention fun) testing it out on an ergonomic keyboard to see the benefits yourself.
Minimise wrist strain
Wrist posture deviations are common to adopt when typing on a standard keyboard. The user essentially has to manipulate their wrist so that they can reach the keys. When this is performed repeatedly and overtime, it can lead to wrist strain along with wear and tear over time.
Common examples of wrist posture deviation include:
- Radial deviation: Wrist bent inwards
- Ulnar deviation: Wrist is bent outwards
- Extension: Wrist is bent upwards
- Flexion: Wrist is bent downwards
- Pronation: Wrist is rotated inwards
- Supination: Wrist is rotated outwards
Best practice dictates that you should keep your wrist in a neutral posture, something which can be difficult to achieve with a regular keyboard. Fortunately, ergonomic keyboards are contoured in such a way that allows them to accommodate the natural posture of your wrist as opposed to you adjusting your wrist to fit the keyboard. Consequently, there’s less of a requirement to deviate your hands and wrists from their normal posture.
Helps improve posture
Believe it or not, ergonomic keyboards can promote better posture. How? Well, by facilitating a neutral wrist and hand posture, it encourages proper shoulder posture which consequently allows the region of your body beneath your shoulders to be positioned more ergonomically as a result. So, if you do find that you are experiencing discomfort in your shoulder, back or arms, it could be down to the positioning of your body at the keyboard.
Increases typing speed
Ergonomic keyboards position the keys as close to the fingers as possible; this reduces the amount of effort required by a person typing to reach the necessary keys; it also contributes to enhanced comfort levels and reduces the effort involved in typing. That coupled with the fact that the keys are easier to press all culminates in a seamless and more efficient typing process.
Dedicated numeric pad
If you tend to use numbers frequently when typing, it can be more awkward to perform accurately when they are lined up along the top of the keyboard. With a numeric keypad, the numbers are placed within reach so that you can easily pick each of the buttons at ease instead of having to cross over and back along the keyboard to obtain the necessary numbers.
If you are an accountant, mathematician or someone who performs numeric calculations on a routine basis; heck, if you prefer to use a calculator instead of completing your calculations on your computer, I can guarantee that you will love a dedicated numeric pad.
I know I’d be lost without mine anyway, would you?
With the traditional keyboards, the numbers are usually sprawled all across the top of the keyboard, and not to mention that they are also generally squished in between the function keys and the QWERTY keyboard section. This can make it more challenging to find the keys that you need, especially if you are inserting a long piece of code.
Tapping in the necessary sequence of numbers or performing calculations isn’t as easy as it could be. The last thing you want to do is insert an incorrect code which could create a miscalculation and could even lead to potentially serious repercussions. It’s also easier on the eyes and on the brain to focus on the numbers when they are collectively located in one area. Numeric keyboards are an absolute joy for people who delight in keyboard shortcuts.
Tip: They also feature extra functions which make performing tasks more efficient and easier to execute. For example, page up and page down buttons which can effortlessly navigate through a page instead of having to scroll on a mouse pad.
Traditional keyboards are sometimes unresponsive, and the keys can often be less sensitive to touch. I’m sure you’ve also experienced the irritation that is associated with a sticky key and having to review documents for typos. Typos are not the worst to review as the spellchecker often highlights errors throughout your document.
The greater evil and headache lies in identifying blunders in calculations! You’d be sometimes better of starting from scratch! Imagine accidentally adding or removing an extra zero and subsequently trying to explain the error to a manager, colleague or client – the stuff of nightmares!
Ergonomic keyboards are designed in such a way that they respond quicker and easier to touch. This also contributes to greater efficiency as time is not lost having to re-examine your work or invest extra unnecessary effort in hitting the keys.
Tip: Ergonomic keyboards are often quieter too which means you don’t sound like a dinosaur when you are executing your work at rapid pace.
Easier to use
Improved posture coupled with increased responsiveness and a dedicated numeric keypad all amounts to making the process of typing easier to perform. They’re also often wireless and are very easy to set up. What’s not to like?
I hope you found this article insightful and that it has enlightened you on the many advantages to owning your very own ergonomic keyboard. Owning a good quality keyboard is one sure-fire way to achieving a more comfortable and efficient work life.
Some people are happy to waste their time and plough on working hard as opposed to working smart, which ultimately costs them in the long run. Whether it’s a promotion, better school or college grades or even developing your own business, these opportunities could all be hindered by an inefficient work methodology.
If you seriously want to, or even NEED to progress at your work or studies, then you should really consider investing in these Essential work at home gadgets – 5 must have items! Can you guess what they are before you read the article?
What gadgets can you not live without? Do you own an ergonomic keyboard? If so, what’s your favourite thing about it? Please let me know in the comments below.