Monday, February 15, 2010

What’s Different About Alternative Ergonomic Keyboards?

If you’ve spent hours and hours using a keyboard without relief, you know just how much strain it can place on your hands, wrists, and upper body. Most traditional keyboards have their design with little thought to ergonomics. That has changed with the arrival of alternative ergonomic keyboards.

These alternative ergonomic keyboards have been designed not only for functionality but also to help maintain the upper body including the arms, wrists, and hands in a neutral position. This neutral position reduces stress and strain on muscles tendons, and nerves to eliminate possible injury from repetitive stress of using a keyboard. The different designs of the alternative ergonomic keyboards help the user to change their posture to a more neutral and comfortable position. For example, a split keyboard is designed to straighten the wrists by increasing the distance between right and left keyboard sides or by allowing the rotation of each half of the keyboard to position it so it is aligned properly with the forearm. Another keyboard design is the tented keyboard.

A variation of the split keyboard, each half is tiled up thus reducing the rotation of the forearms. Still another type of keyboard design allows the user to raise the front edge of the keyboard. This provides you with a backward slope that straightens the wrist in a more neutral position.

Perhaps one of the most popular alternative ergonomic keyboard designs is that of built in wrist or palm rests. Some researchers question whether these increase the pressure on the wrists or interfere with typing. Still there are those who much prefer a keyboard with wrist rests.

When you try a new keyboard give yourself enough time to adjust to the differences. Once you try it for a few days you’ll know the usefulness of ergonomics on your keyboard.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

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Why Left Handed?

If you’re one of the many people considering making the switch to a left handed keyboard, it could be a very wise choice, especially if you spend hours each day using your keyboard. Left handed keyboards have a different layout design than the traditional style keyboards.

These layout changes help to create an efficient ergonomic keyboard. There’s one major change that contributes to the improvements. Traditionally keyboarders spent a lot of time using the numeric keypad. Thus, it was conveniently placed on the right side of the keyboard. Today, most people using a keyboard don’t spend a lot of time with the numeric keypad.

Left handed keyboards have moved the numeric keypad to the left side of the layout. This allows users to place their mouse closer to the alpha keypad. Closer positioning of your mouse helps to promote straight, inline positioning of your forearms, wrists, and hands. This neutral position helps keep tendons, nerves and blood vessels in this area from being compressed.

Compression occurs with many keyboard users. This compression causes what is known as Repetitive Stress Injuries. The main symptoms of Repetitive Stress Injuries include numbness of the fingers, tingling, and pain in the wrists continuing up the forearm or down through the hand. The pain can be chronic and often requires medical treatment. Left handed keyboards can help to prevent this type of injury.

Another popular layout of the left handed keyboard is to remove the numeric keypad and replace it with a touchpad. Since the touchpad performs every function of the mouse, you can get rid of your mouse. Not using a mouse will eliminate the awkward positions occurring when you go from keyboard to mouse and back. You also won’t have to worry about placing your mouse close to your keyboard as the touchpad is built right into your keyboard. So it is not only ergonomic efficient, it is also a space saver.

If you are a constant keyboard user you may not even realize the stress you’re placing on your wrists and hands by using a traditional keyboard. You also may not realize just how much time you spend on a keyboard. At work and at home the computer has become a major part of everyday life. That tired achy feeling, or the tingling could be a big warning sign that you’re damaging the nerves and tendons in these areas. Switching to a left handed keyboard is a wise choice to help prevent further damage.