Best keyboard for arthritis

Do you have discomfort or pain while typing? Find the perfect keyboard for you!

Typing with the wrong keyboard can mess up your hand…

Today, almost 70% of the American workforce uses a computer for their day-to-day responsibilities. For many people who make a living by typing for any length of time, staying away from the keyboard is not an option. However, repeated and extended use of computers over a long period of time begins to wear at the body and can lead to a host of enduring conditions including bad posture, stiffness, headaches, arthritis, and many muskoskeletal disorders. Several of these conditions leave people with chronic pain and some extreme cases may require physical therapy or even surgery for relief.

These issues are preventable

By cultivating an ideal and comfortable work station, an individual may reduce the risk of developing lasting negative effects. Solutions can be as simple as aligning desk, chair, and monitor height to the correct position for an individual. Selecting the proper ergonomic mouse for extended use can also save your mouse hand from carpal tunnel. But one of the most important, however, is finding the right keyboard. Using a standard keyboard can put unnecessary strain on your hand and wrists, but this strain can be alleviated by investing in an ergonomic keyboard.

Contents

Why do I need an ergonomic keyboard?

If you let yourself sit in a relaxed, normal position, your arms will fall naturally to your side, a shoulder length apart. Reaching for a non-ergonomic keyboard from this position forces your hands together in a tight, unnatural position. Standard keyboards also tend to have a positive tilt built into them, so that your wrists have to bend upward unnaturally. These issues lead to awkward typing postures that put significant strain on the hands, wrists, and shoulders.

If you keep typing on an un-ergonomic keyboard, you many end up with carpal tunnel syndrome and require surgery later on.

Ergonomic keyboards allow your hands to sit in a wider, more natural position, which feels more comfortable and allows you to be more productive. Furthermore, using an ergonomic keyboard may reduce or prevent serious harm to the wrists, tendons, and fingers. Overtime, an investment in an ergonomic keyboard will pay for itself by increasing individual productivity and by preventing unnecessary visits to the doctor.

After typing on a keyboard for an extended period of time, do you feel strain in your shoulders, wrists, or fingers?

Even if you do not feel pain after typing, using a standard keyboard for an extended period of time may cause long-term and even permanent issues with your body. Use of a non-ergonomic keyboard may cause a plethora of issues including muskoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and rotator cuff injuries.

Aftermath of carpal tunnel surgery

The Sooner the Better

If at the moment you do not feel the need to put effort into researching and purchasing an ergonomic keyboard because you feel comfortable typing on your standard keyboard, then now is the perfect time to invest in an ergonomic keyboard. You may not notice in the beginning the use of a standard keyboard wearing on your body; it’s only a matter of time before you will start to feel the effects. By switching to an ergonomic keyboard immediately, you will preserve your health as it is now and your body will thank you later.

How do I know which keyboard is right for me?

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best ergonomic keyboards on the market and why we think they make a great keyboard. Here you can weigh the pros and cons of each keyboard and choose the keyboard that best fits your lifestyle. Or you can skip to the very best keyboard for hand ergonomics here.

The Best Ergonomic Keyboards for Carpal Tunnel, Tendonitis & RSI

The best ergonomic keyboard for carpal tunnel syndrome, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), tendinitis, & peripheral neuropathy is the one that relieves discomfort of the wrist and forearms. Placing pressure on the wrists and forearms during the typing means placing pressure on the median nerve and finger flexor tendons that travel through the carpal tunnel in your wrist.

That’s why you’ll find that when typing for long periods of time on a normal keyboard, you will start to experience tightness & cramps in the forearms, hands, and fingers. After a while, you may start to feel pain, numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation.

That’s because with the incorrect typing posture, the repetitive motion of typing squeezes the carpal tunnel and causes the tissue inside it to become rigid and swollen. In turn, this causes the median nerve to become pinched, compressed, and to have reduced space to glide in.

Furthermore, If you keep straining your wrist and forearm with carpal tunnel or RSI, then scar tissue may form in the carpal tunnel, causing the RSI, wrist pain, or carpal tunnel syndrome to become permanent.

So to avoid this, you need a carpal tunnel keyboard that is ergonomically designed to conform to the contours of the hands, that reduces the strain placed on the wrists, and that promotes the correct typing angle for the wrist & forearms. Such types of keyboards include contoured keyboards, split keyboards, and low-profile keyboards. Such as the ones below:

  • The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard –
  • Kinesis Freestyle2 –
  • Kinesis Advantage2 –

Low Profiles Keyboards

Low-profile keyboards are ergonomic by being closer to the ground, which helps you keep your hands in a neutral position while you are typing. When you type on a normal keyboard, you end up bending your wrist in an awkward upward angle to type. This places strain on the carpal tunnel, and the strain becomes even worse when you kick the keyboard feet up. So low-profile keyboards that relieve stress on the carpal tunnel include:

  • Havit Low-Profile Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Flat & Contracted Keyboards

The Best Ergonomic Keyboards for Arthritis

The best ergonomic keyboard for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and fibromyalgia is the one that is easy on the joints of the hand, given that those medical conditions cause the painful inflammation, stiffness, swelling, and sensitivity of the finger & thumb joints. So you need an adaptive keyboard that is designed for a reduced range of motion and a lower actuation force for pressing a keycap. That means you need a keyboard that has a shorter traveling distance for key presses and keys that responds to even the softest touch of the finger tips.

The type of keyboards that use such short & light presses include flat contracted keyboards, low-profile keyboards, and soft touch keyboards. And you can also find mechanical keyboards with lighter key switches that are easy on the fingers.

Flat & Contracted Keyboards

Contracted keyboards are miniaturized keyboards designed for fingers with a decreased range of motion. Usually contracted keyboards have the keys closer together, and the keys don’t require a lot of force to press down. Contracted keyboards that are good for arthritis include:

  • Apple Magic Keyboard
  • MoKo Ultra-Thin Foldable Keyboard

The Apple Magic Keyboard is Low Profile, Soft to Touch, and easy to type on

The Apple Magic Keyboard is flatter & lower than most other keyboards. Apple Magic Keyboard uses Scissor switch which allows the keyboard to be extremely low-profile while maintaining keys that are easy to press down (actuation). The keys have a short traveling distance, which means that the fingers don’t have to move as much. Because the keys are easy to actuate and have a short travel distance, it will allow you to type very fast compared to normal keyboards that tend to have stiff, rubbery keys that are painful to use when you have arthritis.

Additionally, the low-profile of the Apple Magic keyboard makes it a lot easier on the wrists and keeps your fingers at a more comfortable typing angle.

I personally have used the MoKo Ultra-Thin Foldable Keyboard, and I find that is very easy to type on. It has a “V” shape that accommodates for the angle of the arms so that you position your hands and fingers ergonomically. The keys have a very small travel distance, so you barely have to move your finger tip up & down. And the keys are small & close together such that you don’t have to move your fingers a lot, but without being cramp.

Soft Touch Keyboards

Ergonomic soft touch keyboards are probably what you are looking for if you have arthritic, delicate, and sensitive fingers. The best soft touch keyboards for arthritis is the one that is very sensitive to the slightest touch, such that gently placing a finger on a key with a gentle nudge is enough to register a key press. I talk about it more below with mechanical keyboards.

And as an added bonus, soft touch keyboards can also be quite quiet to type on. Such keyboards that require the least amount of force to press down a key also include:

  • The Microsoft Sculpt
  • Flat & Contracted Keyboards

Mechanical Keyboards

If you are suffering from arthritis, but you still want to use a mechanical keyboard, then what you need to do is look for a mechanical keyboard that uses key with very low actuation force. Meaning that it’s very easy to press down with your finger, such that even a soft touch would be enough to register a key press. The keyswitch that is light as a feather to press down are the Gateron Clears. These are the best ones for arthritis and sensitive fingers.

Alternatively, you can try using a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches. The benefit of these Cherry MX Brown switches is that you do not have to fully bottom out when pressing down on a key, which can be painful for arthritic fingers.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

Keyboard sculpt to fit the shape & angle of the hands & forearms for reduced strain and increased typing comfort

A Well-built Keyboard from an Established Brand in Ergonomics

Microsoft makes some of the best ergonomic keyboards on the market and the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Wireless Desktop Keyboard is a prime example. Even on first glance, the Sculpt appears well built and very well designed. And it is. When it comes to ergonomics, Microsoft is one company that has definitely done their research.

The keys are placed at an angle that feels comfortable for the average user even after an extended period of time. The board also has a curving slope that feels very natural especially in the outer fingers, which generally face the most strain when typing. The tilt is adjustable allowing for the user to find the perfect position for their chair to desk height ratio.

Some of the key placement is a little unusual and it doesn’t always make sense so the keyboard definitely takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it as the keyboard has been shown to significantly reduce strain on the fingers and shoulders.

Sleek Design

The keyboard is sleek and quite a pleasant design, but looks aren’t everything and Microsoft might have overdone it with the aesthetics on this one as the glossy finish leaves it prone to fingerprints and smudges anyway.

The High Price of Style

The Sculpt clocks in on the slightly more expensive end, but it easily justifies the price tag especially for those who spend eight or more hours at their computer every day. Microsoft knows that most people—even those that care about quality and ergonomic support—are either unwilling or unable to drop several hundred dollars on something that is generally seen as inconsequential and ordinary. With the Sculpt, Microsoft walks the line between the ideal “high-tech” ergonomic keyboard and what is familiar and affordable for the average user. Priced at barely over one hundred dollars, the Sculpt is there for people who care about long-term effects on their body, but don’t want to break the bank.

Microsoft Sculpt Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Well designed
  • Adjustable
  • Wireless
  • Great batter life

Cons

  • Moderately high price tag
  • Relatively steep learning curve

Kinesis Freestyle2

This split keyboard allows you to relax your arms to spread out and thereby reduce strain on the wrists. The separation between the keyboards pieces may be 9 inches or 20 inches, depending on the version that you buy.

An Unusual Design for Maximum Flexibility

With this keyboard, Kinesis takes a rather unusual approach to solving the ergonomic problem. The Kinesis Freestyle2 Ergonomic Keyboard is not only a split keyboard, like most ergonomic keyboards, but is literally split into two separate pieces connected only by a cord. This unique solution allows the user to easily adjust their hand positions to the exact position that they find most comfortable. While other split keyboards do provide ideal comfort for the average user, fringe body types, especially users with either very broad or narrow shoulders may find more comfort using this two piece keyboard.

The keyboard itself is fairly basic and, as such, it is easy to adjust to using the Freestyle2 as opposed to other ergonomic keyboards, which may place keys in awkward or unusual places in order to fit their design. The keys are responsive even to light touches, which prevents extra strain with extended use of the product. The keyboard on its own is also rather small and therefore usable in tight office spaces where other ergonomic keyboards, which tend to be on the larger side, will not fit. The Freestyle2 is not wireless like many of the other keyboards listed here and the extra wire that connects the two halves can easily get in the way. It also prevents the keyboard from being an easily portable option as it takes some extra effort to set up or stow away.

Additional Accessories

  • VIP3 Accessory Kit for Kinesis Freestyle2 Keyboard
  • Kinesis Freestyle2 Numeric Keypad (PC)

The Freestyle2 is fairly inexpensive relative to other ergonomic keyboards—but that’s only if the basic keyboard is purchased on its own. Some users may require a number pad in addition to the basic keyboard, which is sold separately. Additionally, Kinesis makes extra pieces that allow the user to position the keyboard at an angle rather than flat on a surface. For full ergonomic comfort, it is recommended that the consumer use these angle adjustments, which, unfortunately, are also sold separately. All together, the price of the keyboard and accessories does drive the price quite a bit higher than other basic ergonomic keyboards.

Unfortunately, some of the accessories are not built to the same level of standard as the keyboard and users have reported that the angle adjustment add-ons have collapsed under extensive use. A home-remedy (i.e. duct tape), however, is easy and some users have even forgone the purchase of the angle adjustments for simpler solutions such as a door jam.

While the Freestyle2 has quite a wide range in terms of adjustability, some users have found that the nine inch cable that connects the two halves of the keyboard is not enough. Kinesis, therefore, does provide cables up to 20 inches for those who wish to purchase the extra flexibility.

Excels Where Others Do Not

Overall, the Kinesis Freestyle2 is a unique design that has been shown to alleviate many common issues associated with extensive typing. The Freestyle2 excels where many other ergonomic keyboards do not providing comfort for fringe users and working even in tight spaces. This keyboard is limited in part by its accessories and should ideally be a wireless keyboard with its split design, however it certainly gets the job done.

Kinesis Freestyle2 Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easily adjustable/customizable for every user
  • Relatively small size
  • Easy learning curve

Cons

  • Full ergonomic support is only available through extra purchases
  • Some parts are fragile, though workarounds are available
  • Too many wires to be conveniently portable

Kinesis Advantage2 Contoured Keyboard

The Best Ergonomic Keyboard

The Kinesis Advantage2 Contoured Keyboard is one of the best keyboards for typing. Anyone who types for long periods of time will benefits by using one of these keyboards, because the Kinesis keyboard was designed for the human body. The Kinesis keyboard reduces RSI and wrist pain by lowering the strain in the wrists. This is done by form-fitting to the contours and shape of the hand and leaving enough space between typing hands. Customers on Amazon testify that the keyboard reduces and eventually cures tendinitis, carpel tunnel, RSI, and related keyboard injuries for many customers.

Who needs this keyboard?

This keyboard is for typists, programmers, software developers, transcriptionists, and pretty much anyone who uses a keyboard for extended periods of time. Customers on Amazon say it’s one of the best keyboards for alleviating many keyboard related injuries.

Our hands are naturally a shoulder width apart

The Kinesis Advantage2 allows your hands to rest on the keys in a natural position, such that your hands sit naturally in their respective wells. This keyboard comes at a high price, but remember that it pays for itself by preventing doctor’s appointments and surgeries due to keyboard-related strain injuries. Furthermore, the unique and comfortable design allows for insanely fast typing speeds, once the user adapts to using the keyboard.

Ideal Ergonomic Design

The Kinesis keyboard’s ergonomic design means minimum movement of the arms, maximum comfort, and zero strain. Rest pads on both sides of the keyboard and more flexibility of the wrists than with your hands fixed parallel to each other means released pressure on the tendons. The keys are placed logically so that they fall naturally under the human hand. The two wells fix the hand in one place instead of allowing your hand to slide all across the keyboard.

Keys curve up to your shorter finger and deep down for your longer finger

The keys are positioned at differing depths to allow for minimal reaching with your shorter fingers so that each finger is under as little strain as possible. The keys are laid out vertically so that fingers mainly move up and down and side to side motion is reduced. This further allows for faster tying speeds along with the very little pressure required to push the keys.

Other ergonomic keyboards are extremely long, placing the mouse towards the end of your reach. But the Kinesis is compact in comparison, reducing unnecessary strain on the shoulder caused by repetitively reaching for the mouse.

Hand Angle is Key to Comfort

The Kinesis keyboard has your hand in the optimal wrist-bend angle to prevent wrist pain. The position your hand naturally falls into might be described as the “handshake position,” as demonstrated in the figure on the left. Using a standard keyboard, and even some ergonomic keyboards, may force the hand into the unnatural claw position shown on the right. Over time, this position may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or other issues.

Additionally, you can see from the images that the Kinesis Advantage2 is a split keyboard with two keyboard wells on either side. The most used function keys are centered in between the wells. Both sides have the CTRL and ALT keys while the Windows, Space, Enter, Page Up, and Page Down keys are located on the right and Backspace, Delete, Home, and End are on the left.

The Advantage2 is built so that the typist will be more inclined to use a strong finger for the common function keys (i.e. the thumb) as opposed to a weaker finger (i.e. the pinkie). This setup allows for greater comfort and speed of typing by reducing the length that your hand has to stretch to reach these function keys, which is one way typists tend to run into pain and discomfort. In the end, the goal is to eliminate all unnatural hand movements and finger reaching to facilitate faster and more comfortable typing.

See what people say on Amazon about the Kinesis Advantage2 Contoured Keyboard

Other Quality Features

  • Programmable macro keys to help you in accounting, programming, etc.
  • Up to 48 macros of up to 56 characters each
  • Macros are stored in the keyboard, allowing for easy transitions between computers
  • Mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX Brown Mechanical key switches
  • Sounds like the vintage IBM keyboards

Kinesis Advantage2 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The ideal keyboard for comfort and speed. Period.
  • Encrypted wireless communication with computer

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Steep learning curve
  • Noisy (good or bad depending on personal preference)
  • No separate number pad included

Goldtouch Go!2 Mobile Keyboard

The Portable Option

The majority of ergonomic keyboards are large and inflexible. They take up most of your desk space, they’re heavy and hard to fit in a briefcase, and even if you feel like lugging one around on the subway back and forth every day, they’re too complicated to set up to be practical for someone who needs to work on the go.

The Goldtouch Go!2 Mobile Keyboard is designed to solve all of these problems. It’s a Bluetooth enabled keyboard that folds in half neatly in order to be packed away. It’s light and easy to store and it’s durable enough for travel. When you’re ready to use it, pull it out, unfold it, and connect it to your device. It’s that easy. The ergonomic aspect also comes from its folding capabilities—the two halves of the keyboard are connected at the top and center and form a sort of teepee that can be adjusted to your comfort.

It’s perfect for commuters who only want to buy one ergonomic keyboard to split between work and home or for those who are constantly traveling for work and need to get tasks done at rotating jobsites or on an airport floor.
The Go! is obviously not going to be as reliable as the keyboard that just sits on your desk all day every day, but it does the job as good as any other portable keyboard, ergonomic or not.

Goldtouch Go!2 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Connects to any Bluetooth enabled device
  • Folds neatly into a small 6” x 7” x 2” dimension
  • Durable

Cons

  • Wireless connection is less reliable than wired
  • No number pad included

Budget Ergonomic Keyboard Options

All these fancy keyboards are so expensive!

The Adesso Tru-Form Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard is simply one of the best ergonomic keyboards on a budget. It is a very standard ergonomic keyboard with few bells and whistles, but that’s exactly what most people need in a keyboard. The hand position is very natural and comfortable for most people and it has great wrist support. The keys are sometimes a bit clunky and that might bother some people, but that’s what you’re going to get in the lower price ranges. It’s also not very adjustable so while the Tru-Form is satisfactory for the average user, what you get is what you get.

The Natural series from Microsoft is another great option when it comes to the cheaper side of ergonomic keyboards. The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 on ebay is generally only slightly more expensive than the Adesso Tru-Form and is a very similar design. It’s an extremely popular keyboard and with good reason. Overall, it’s very familiar and easy to use for the average user.

Less can be more

While a $30 keyboard may not be as effective as a $300 keyboard at preventing and curing pain caused by typing, even an inexpensive keyboard is the first step towards preventing long-term issues and having any ergonomic keyboard in the first place is significantly better than not having one at all. It would be ideal for the health of our hands not to type on a keyboard all day, but that isn’t exactly an option in our modern era. So being smart about the keyboards we use extensively can reduce or prevent long-term effects from destroying our hands even just a little bit.

Conclusion

It’s very easy for us to say that our favorite keyboard is the Kinesis Advantage2. While there are a lot of ergonomic keyboards on the market and many different and creative solutions to the same problem, there are few that have taken comfort and health as far as the Advantage line. We recognize, however, that the Advantage2 is not the keyboard for every consumer. The truth is that as long as you as a typist are aware of the effects of extensive keyboard use and do whatever you can to prevent long-term harm to your body—even just a little bit—then you are better off than you would be otherwise and the sooner you start the better. The Kinesis Advantage2 keyboard is probably the best on the market for protecting your hands from repetitive strain injury.

Related Links

  • Ergonomics Home Page
  • Finding the Best Ergonomic Mouse for You

We spend good chunk of our lives typing, like it or not, and the more correct our posture when we do it the better – which is where our definitive lists of the best ergonomic keyboards comes in.

Type with bad form, and you’re setting yourself up for chronic pain, or at least extremities that are taut, achy and uncomfortable. The best ergonomic keyboards on the market take steps to stop hand, wrist and shoulder pain in its tracks, as well as reducing the likelihood of conditions like Repetitive Strain Injury.

Buying an ergonomic keyboard is usually a case of choosing between a keyboard split in two or one designed in a comfort curve – think the keyboard as imagined by Salvador Dali. Both have benefits health-wise, so it’s a case of which layout you prefer and fits your fingers and hands best.

The best ergonomic keyboards for Mac and PC are designed to fit around your hands, enabling them to lie naturally. Without any further ado, read on for our favourite picks in 2019.

  • Best gaming keyboards
  • Best ergonomic mice
  • Best office chairs
  • Best 4K monitors

Here are the best ergonomic keyboards to use

Matias Ergo Pro

Quiet mechanical keys and a segmented design

Reasons to buy

+Matias Quiet Click mechanical switches+Moveable components

Reasons to avoid

-Expensive investment

One of the latest designs from Matias is the Ergo Pro, shooting for a bisected, ALPS-inspired design, this model has arranged the navigation keys in their traditional pattern, but lays them out horizontally. It also positions them along the bottom row, more like a laptop keyboard, making it a little odd to use to begin.

However, once you get used to it these design choices make total sense and won’t stand in the way of long typing sessions. It also makes use of Matias’ bespoke Quiet Click mechanical switches that give you that clacky feedback, but removes most of the sound thanks to some rubber keyswitches.

Microsoft Ergonomic Surface Keyboard

A slim, sleek offering from the Big M

+Wireless support+Durable and stain resistant -At its best with Microsoft Surface

Perfectly suited to Microsoft’s Surface range (but one of the best ergonomic keyboards for Windows no matter what the brand), this is a wireless affair and operates up to 32-feet away thanks to the magic of Bluetooth. The layout of the keyboard is your standard QWERTY setup, but its curved geometry facilitates a really comfortable experience that won’t leave you feeling sore after a day’s furious typing.

Double padding on the arm rest provides that little extra layer of luxury, while something a simple as a split space bar makes touch-typing a breeze. Those rests are also stain resistant, just in case you slurp a little too much coffee while you’re hard at work.

MoKo Universal Foldable Keyboard

The best ergonomic keyboard for on-the-go computing

+Pack away and take it with you+You can use it with your phone too -Not very sturdy

For ergonomic keyboards that can go anywhere and everywhere with you, look no further than the excellent Moko Universal Foldable Keyboard, which works with Windows, Android and iOS (so you can use it with your brand new iPad and still avoid wrist strain at the same time).

It’s just 6.37 inches (16.18 cm) when folded, so it’s almost small enough to put into your pocket. Besides that, the two halves of the keyboard are perfectly spaced to keep your hands and fingers in a natural position.

Vitalitim 2.4Ghz Full-size Ergonomic Wireless Keyboard

Low on price, high on features

+Very affordable+Ultra-slim design -Not as sturdy as other models

The ergonomic keyboard corner of the PC peripheral market, much like any other, has its fair share of ultra expensive and mid-range models, but that’s not to say everything in the ‘budget’ range can be dismissed as a load of tat.

Vitalitim’s ultra thin device is one of the best inexpensive ergonomic keyboards, with a 2.4Ghz, cable-free connection that’s operates up to 10 metres away. It’s lightweight and features a thin, low profile, but it also packs in an impressive 110 keys (with 12 hotkeys for those all-important shortcuts). It has a few drawbacks, but it’s brilliant considering the low asking price.

Mistel Barocco

When only Cherry MX Switches will do

+Cherry MX Switches as standard+Ergonomic split design -RGB lighting isn’t for everyone

The latest offering from Mistel aims to cross the divide between traditional ergonomic keyboards (which strip out features in favour of comfort) and full-fat mechanical keyboards with their clacky feedback. The Barocco, on the whole, marries the two pretty well with Cherry MX Switches as standard and a temperature-resistant build that ensures it can survive most punishment.

The split design works well, helping negate the overall strain of using a regular keyboard for too long. The RGB backlighting offers 11 different modes, while the inclusion of macro-based hotkeys gives you the scope to customise those all important shortcuts. A worthy inclusion on our best ergonomic keyboards list.

Logitech K350

A mid-range choice with plenty of extra features

+Comfortable design+Great price considering specs -Poor media key placement

Logitech’s contribution to the mid-to-expensive range of the market is another model that aims to marry two seemingly incompatible elements – the affordable asking price for a smaller spec model with the robust feature set of a higher-end keyboard.

The result is the K350, which manages to be extremely comfortable to use for both short and long sessions, AND versatile thanks to curved ‘wave’ keyboard layout and a set of customisable macro keys. Unfortunately, the placing of these multimedia buttons leaves a lot to be desired, making them a little awkward to use for a model designed to reduce strain.

Adesso Tru-Form 150

A different take on split-design

+Plenty of multimedia keys+Comfortable split-design -A little plasticky in finish

While being one of the more expensive models on our best ergonomic keyboard list, the Tru-Form 150 from Adesso still manages to offer decent value for money with an impressive set of built-in features. Including a raft of multimedia keys, a ‘wave’ layout and split-design that places your hands on either side of a comfortable bump in the middle.

The keys also have a larger, 2x font making them ideal for users for poor eyesight. The design can feel a little plasticky, with all the keys a little noisy for a non-mechanical keyboard, but it’s still a decent peripheral for your home or office setup.

Microsoft Sculpt

Microsoft goes all in for ergonomic

+Comfortable titled design+Ergonomic mouse included -Not the nicest looking keyboard

While the Microsoft Surface was designed with – you guessed it – Microsoft Surface devices in mind, the Big M has made sure there’s another more versatile keyboard for the ergonomic crowd. The Sculpt combines design elements from both split and traditional layouts, resulting in a robust if aesthetically unappealing model.

The tilt of its keys makes for very comfortable experience, while the included ergonomic mouse and separate numerical keyboard make for a setup that’s perfect for almost any kind of non-gaming task. If you’re looking to reduce RSI with a full keyboard and mouse combo, this is an easy sell.

An extra thin take on the split design

+Split, cable design is super ergonomic+Extra thin build adds to the comfort -A little pricey

The second generation Freestyle from Kinesis keeps the same segmented design that made it such an ergonomic-centric design to begin with, while adding in a few extra touches for. The new model is noticeably slimmer, its lower profile feeling that bit more comfortable to use than the first Freestyle.

Its connective cable is 9-inches long but there’s also a 20-inch version if you want even more space between your keyboard components. The model’s keys don’t offer the nicest feedback, especially after long periods of use, but with Bluetooth connectivity and versions for both PC/Linux and Mac, it’s a decent if pricey package.

Razer Ornata Chroma Revolutionary

A high-end gaming keyboard with added comfort

+Mechanical switches+Very comfy ergonomic wrist rest -Not a pure ergonomic design

When it comes to gaming-focused keyboards, comfort almost always comes second to performance, but that’s not to say there aren’t some models out there with some support for ergonomic users. The Razer Ornata Chroma Revolutionary packs in mechanical switches, anti-ghosting and all manner of macro keys for customisation.

The big selling point for users wanting a more comfortable experience is a durable wrist rest that elevates your hands and takes off much of the strain associated with extended use. While not a keyboard designed with ergonomics first and foremost, it’s certainly one of the most comfy to use in the gaming sphere.

Perixx Periboard-512 II

An affordable keyboard that doesn’t scrimp on the ergonomics

+Split-key/3D mashup works well+White backlit keys a nice touch -Noticeably cheap finish

Combining both a split-key design with the contours of a 3D build, the Perixx Periboard-512 II might look a little odd (and boast an equally ugly name), but it makes for a robust keyboard that belies its affordable, sub-£30 price tag. It’s a little bigger than the rest of the keyboards on this list, so it’ll take a little getting used to, but once you’re comfortable with its contours you’ll find it a pleasant and responsive bit of kit.

Add in some USB 2.0 hubs with seven multimedia hotkeys and you’ll find this Perixx peripheral and easy sell for those worried by RSI symptoms or those already suffering from the condition. In fact it’s one of the best ergonomic keyboards for wrist pain out there.

    Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

    Defer less to your mouse with this does-all keyboard

    + Quick commands + Comfortable wave design – Not the best looking

    More Microsoft? You bet. This ergonomic option from the empire built by Bill Guides is a bit beefier than the other two brand offerings in our list both in terms of build and functions, and makes a better bet for those who prefer traditional elevated keys to almost-flush ones, but don’t want to sacrifice the more comfortable wrist and arm alignment of an ergonomic keyboard.

    For the keyboard shortcut aficionado, this is a veritable smorgasbord of functionality, with an intuitive zoom slider, one-touch commands like Open and Reply, and media keys.

    Kinesis Advantage2 LF

    Weird-looking, but worth it

    + Ludicrously comfortable + Easy switching for Mac users – Takes a few weeks to get used to

    The Kinesis Advantage2 LF takes the split keyboard design to the next level, with its deep concave and huge gulf between the two sets of keys. But, despite a pretty steep learning curve, reviewers said it was the most comfortable keyboard they’d ever tried, all thanks to that unique layout. Well, and probably at least a little to do with the plush raised palm rests too.

    Mac users can switch easily with included extra keycaps and a simple keystroke command for a quick setup with no Preferences menu in sight, and the keys are both reprogrammable and mechanical, with an incredibly satisfying clack courtesy of Cherry MX Red Switches.

    Perixx Periboard-506 II

    +Attractive design and style+Comes with an integrated trackball -Doesn’t work with Macs

    Another Perixx entry in our best ergonomic keyboards list, and this one comes with a full-sized number pad, a split keyboard, and an integrated trackball – it’s perfect if you have difficulty using the mouse as well as the keyboard, because your hands are never going to have to move very far.

    Setup is a simple plug-and-play affair and you get a cable that’s 1.8 metres (71 inches) long, so you should be able to position this keyboard pretty much wherever you like. There’s a cool-looking set of media buttons and indicator lights up at the top too, like the 512 II model.

    GameSir One-handed Mechanical Gaming Keypad

    An ergonomic keyboard with added gaming chops

    +Extra comfortable design+Perfect packing away/travelling -Rather odd-looking

    Gaming keyboards are great, but you’re often lumbered with chunky designs that either don’t pack away well or make your wrists and tends sore after extended use. The GameSir One-handed Mechanical Gaming Keypad aims to fight this with a compact design that takes all the major keys you’re likely to need and packs them into one ergonomic layout.

    The result is peripheral that’s comfortable to use in conjunction with a mouse, and one that’s also ideal for packing away when gaming on the go. It has 29 Cherry MX Red Key Switches, RGB lighting and more, so it’s still a proper little gaming keyboard in its own right.

    • Check out our ultimate best keyboard list

    My doctor keeps telling me to stop typing. As a professional writer and enthusiastic coder that’s not going to happen any time soon.

    But it’s true that, for me, typing is a pain – literally. I have osteoarthritis in all the joints of both hands (and many other places) so constantly hitting keys is not a joyful experience.

    What I plan to do here is a quick roundup of a few of the things I’ve tried to make life more tolerable and allow me to work without undue pain. None of this is scientific – what you read here are just my subjective experiences.

    Workstation

    The arthritis is what drove me back to buying a desktop computer, after having used laptops for several years. With osteoarthritis in my neck, which leads to cervical vertigo, I can’t sit for hours at a desk in a normal office chair. Instead, I work in a recliner – albeit only slightly reclined – with my iMac on an adjustable arm – the Ergotron LX, which is as fine a piece of engineering as you’re likely to encounter.

    The recliner chair and its footstool also vibrate, which is nice… sometimes a bit too nice… the cat loves it.

    I’d tried doing something similar with a laptop – sitting in a lawn chair with the computer on a padded lap tray. The angles were never quite right, though.

    Once I’d hit on the idea of an iMac on an arm, this raised the issue of the keyboard and mouse. The first step was to put the keyboard on its own arm. Ergotron makes another arm, also in the LX range, which comes fitted with a keyboard tray and slide-out mouse support (it slides out of either side for both lefties and righties).

    You might think that a keyboard on an arm might be a bit too bouncy – and you’d be right. But in my setup, the keyboard tray rests lightly on my lap, which stabilises everything nicely.

    The one problem I did have was that the mouse was a little too far away for comfort. I kept wanting to move it off the bottom edge. So I bolted a stiff piece of plastic to the Ergtron to extend the mousing area towards me. It works beautifully.

    The keyboard and mouse on the Ergotron LX arm. The iPad is on a separate arm.

    There’s also space on the keyboard support for a USB hub (no more reaching around the back of the iMac to plug in a USB stick) and a stand for my iPhone.

    Keyboard

    Laptop keyboards are rubbish. All of them. The best I’ve used in recent years is actually on a tatty 13in Lenovo that I still use for running the Tails operating system. (The computer is nastily cheap in every respect other than its keyboard.)

    The problem is the degree of travel of the keys. While the keys on my MacBook Pro are fairly light to actuate – ie, they don’t require much force to press, which is a good thing – there’s only about a millimetre or so of movement before they ‘bottom out’, which is a bad thing.

    Bottoming out is where the key reaches the end of its travel and comes to a sudden stop. The small shock of each key hitting the base of the keyboard may not seem like much to anyone with healthy hands. But when your joints are sensitive to any knocks or bumps, it can quickly become painful.

    The iMac came with a Bluetooth keyboard that is a lovely bit of design but is essentially the same laptop keyboard but in its own case.

    So I started investigating mechanical keyboards. Follow the link to see a list of my reviews.

    I’ll be writing more on the subject of key switches, but for now I’ll just say that I find it hard to make up my mind between the Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Brown and the Topre clones used in the Plum keyboard. My solution is to change keyboard every week or two.

    On all of them I’ve fitted O-rings to the keycaps, to soften the landing a little. O-rings use rubber of varying hardness, measured in ‘Shore’, with higher numbers being harder. There are also ‘A’ and ‘D’ ranges. O-rings for keycaps are usually in the A range and my current favourites have a hardness of 40A Shore.

    The O-rings definitely make a difference when you bottom out. However, it’s best not to do that, so I’m trying to train myself to type lightly. My career as a journalist started with me hacking out long articles on old manual typewriters. And, never having learned to touch-type, my typing technique isn’t so much hunt-and-peck as search-and-destroy. So it’s taking a while for me to learn new habits.

    Mouse

    The MacBook Pro’s touchpad is worse than the keyboard. I mean, it’s a fine example of its type, but tapping the hard surface in order to actuate mouse clicks (and worse, double-clicks) can quickly become agony for me. The same is true of swiping. I found myself longing for the old days of using a real mouse. That was a sign. So I bought a mouse.

    The iMac came equipped with Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 which is, again, a beautiful object. There’s no scrollwheel – instead you just stroke the top of the device. In fact, you can set it up to obey all manner of gestures. It’s effectively a curved touchpad. It also has a beautifully light but positive click.

    However, as much as I like the idea of stroking my mouse (and that has to be a euphemism for something), the curve of the Magic Mouse’s top surface is somehow too gentle. I find I hold my hand hovering rather uncomfortably above the mouse. It just didn’t work.

    The Hippus HandShoe mouse, showing signs of wear after two years of continuous use but still working perfectly.

    My solution was to buy the Hippus HandShoe Mouse, the result of a lot of research by Dutch academics. I’ve been using it successfully for a couple of years. It fully cradles the hand, meaning that you can relax the muscles. It’s designed to relieve issues with carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injury (RSI) but I find it’s very effective for arthritis pain too.

    Logitech MX Master

    Just recently I also experimented with the Logitech MX Master mouse. Superficially, this has some similarities to the HandShoe mouse, such as giving you a place to rest your thumb. It’s also fairly large, which is good.

    (I have a bunch of Genius Micro Traveler mice that I use with Raspberry Pi setups. They’re conveniently small, but painful to use for more than a short period.)

    The Logitech is an excellent piece of kit and the extra buttons and rollers are easy to program, even on OS X. Being Bluetooth, it also does away with one one cable, which is never a bad thing. It doesn’t offer quite the same level of comfort as the HandShoe mouse, though, which is why I continue using the latter for daily use. Every now and then I’ll switch to the Logitech just to change things up.

    All of these measures have enabled me to continue working, although none of them relieve the pain entirely and the best solution is still to not use the computer.

    Oh, and before someone mentions it, yes I have tried using voice recognition systems. In fact, I’ve used them on and off since the 1990s. But they don’t match the way I work and are therefore of limited use. That said, as the arthritis worsens I think I may give them another try…

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    For many of us, typing and using our computer is how we pay the bills. I know for me as a translator and the writer of Healthy Freelancers, it certainly is. Over the months, the years and decades of being a freelance translator your hands, and especially your wrists take a beating from the repetitive motions of typing. In the end, we’re freelancers because we want the freedom to work on whatever we want wherever we want. If we’re hurt or in physical pain, then that really puts a damper on the whole reason we do this. Carpal Tunnel is no exception to that. I’d like to run you all through what causes carpal tunnel, and the best keyboard for carpal tunnel pain and how a carpal tunnel keyboard like this can help you type pain-free for the rest of your career.

    Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of the links, you won’t pay anymore, but we will get a small commission to help keep us up and running. Thank you and enjoy!

    You think there’s Wi-Fi out there?

    You can also check out my article The Best Mouse for Carpal Tunnel when you’re finished here. Having any sort of pain while typing or using your computer can derail productivity and make working something you really dislike doing. Work is a necessity, and we should be as comfortable as possible while we’re doing it. Take care of yourself now so you can have a long and prosperous career.

    The Best Carpal Tunnel Keyboard 2020

    Now, onto the good stuff!

    What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

    Photo cred: Core Concepts Physiotherapy

    In your wrists, there is actually a tube called the ‘Carpal Tunnel.’ The median nerve, the nerve that controls the movements of your thumb and first three fingers plus the tendons to your fingers and thumb all run through it. If that tunnel for some reason becomes swollen, pinched, or changed for any reason, then it clamps down on that nerve and ligaments. You can have symptoms such as tingling, finger pain or even loss of muscle strength. This disorder is called carpal tunnel syndrome.

    What causes CTS?

    Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a lot of different things that require repetitive movements of the wrist for long hours of the day. Many believe that the most common cause is typing, but that’s not entirely true. One study actually found those who worked with heavy machinery and power tools were much more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome than people who typed all day.

    That wrist angle is going to cause him problems down the road

    In all honesty, you most likely do not have Carpal Tunnel syndrome as there needs to be some abnormality or change in the actual carpal tunnel. What you most likely have (although don’t quote me, I’m not a doctor) I’m just basing this on the studies and clinical cases I’ve read, is either tendonitis or repetitive strain injury.

    What’s repetitive strain injury

    Repetitive strain injury is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, but instead of involving the actual carpal tunnel, it’s focused on the nerves that run through it. Over many hours, weeks, months of typing, those nerves swell causing carpal tunnel-like symptoms (finger pain, sore wrist, etc.).

    Too much repetition of the same movement and your body does not have enough time to repair itself. It’s similar to ‘tennis elbow’ if you’ve ever heard of that, but obviously in your wrists. Let’s check out how carpal tunnel keyboard can help with hand and finger pain.

    The Best Carpal Tunnel Keyboard

    How to soothe finger and hand pain with an ergo carpal tunnel keyboard

    Now, we’re on to the good stuff, the best keyboard for carpal tunnel. But first, the best way to get nerve inflammation to go down is to stop using that nerve for a while and let it heal. Unfortunately, for those of us who make a living with our hands, that’s probably not an option right now.

    Something else you could do is get yourself a carpal tunnel keyboard or an ergonomic keyboard. You’ve probably seen them before. The most common ones are more of a V-shape, like in the photo above, although they come in all shapes and sizes. This shape allows for your wrists and hands to be at a much more natural angle than a classic keyboard, which reduces the strain and tension on the nerves and ligaments.

    Different types of ergonomic keyboards for carpal tunnel

    Ergonomics and self-care are pretty hot words right now, and manufacturers have come up with different styles for the best keyboards for carpal tunnel pain to try and relieve as much pressure as possible from your wrists and hands.

    1. Split keyboards

    Split Carpal Tunnel Keyboard

    Instead of the standard straight line of tradition keyboards, split keyboards come in a V-shape/or separated. They can either be fixed (ones that don’t move) or adjustable, so you change the spacing of the keys according to your body size.

    2. Contoured keyboards

    This basically takes the split carpal tunnel keyboard idea a step further by creating indents and slopes that fit the length of your fingers. They are placed at a height, so that arm and wrist movement is minimal, which decreases stress on the nerves. Noth contoured and split keyboards would definitely take some getting used to though. You can see in the photo though, that compared to a normal, straight ergo keyboard, this carpal tunnel keyboard keeps your hand at a much more natural position.

    3. Handheld keyboard

    Handheld carpal tunnel keyboard

    If you’ve ever played X-box, or have kids who play X-box, this keyboard looks pretty similar to one of the controllers. It’s designed to be held in both hands. This gives the user the freedom to walk around the room, lean back in their chair and type away from the computer.

    4. Angle Split keyboard

    Split carpal tunnel keyboard

    Angle split keyboards are similar to the Angle carpal tunnel keyboard, but it’s set at a tilt, called a tent. This means that your thumb and pointer finger are higher than the rest of your hand. The reason is that having your wrists at a more neutral angle (palms facing each other) reduces the pressure and effort required to type. You can see in the photo below of the angle split keyboard how the middle section (where your thumbs are) is higher than the rest of your hand.

    My criteria for choosing the best keyboard for carpal tunnel 2020

    As I used and read comments and reviews about some of these carpal tunnel keyboards, I decided on a few criteria that would be essential to my decision for finding the best keyboard for carpal tunnel 2020.

    They were:

    • Easy to learn
    • Natural wrist angle
    • Wireless
    • Affordable

    Many of the ergo carpal tunnel keyboards met 2 or 3 criteria (natural wrist angle, wireless and some, affordable). However, the one that was most often missed by many was the “easy to learn” criteria.

    Looking at the photos above and the different type of ergo keyboards for carpal tunnel, the contoured and handheld keyboard styles look very different than normal keyboards we see today. You’d have to re-learn where the keys are, the spacing and it was a bit of a headache. If you’re in the middle of a project and re-learning how to type at the same time, that just seems like a nightmare to me.

    With that in mind, let’s take a look at the #1 choice for the best keyboard for carpal tunnel 2020.

    The best keyboard for carpal tunnel 2020

    Microsoft sculpt ergo

    In my opinion and experience, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergo for Business is widely regarded as the best keyboard for carpal tunnel in 2020. It is an ergonomic Angle-Split keyboard for carpal tunnel which means the keyboard is V-shaped and the middle is angled up, like a tent. The palm cushion also helps to relax and take tension off your wrists during long bouts of typing.

    If you’d like a video overview of the Microsoft Sculpt, CNet has done a really nice job. The first 2 minutes or so he talks about the keyboard and then moves onto the mouse. I prefer the mouse I wrote about in The Best Mouse for Carpal Tunnel as I think the scroll ball will really help to relieve wrist and hand pain. Heres the Cnet video for you if you’re interested.

    CNET on YouTube

    The Microsoft sculpt ergo keyboard is wireless and connects via USB 2.0, so it shouldn’t be a problem on any device. Batteries are also included. The business version, which I would recommend for most freelancers, comes with a number pad as well, which is disconnected and can be placed wherever you want, depending on your set-up.

    Angled, tented, wireless, what else could you want? Easily, the best keyboard for carpal tunnel pain 2020.

    Buy The Best Keyboard for Carpal Tunnel 2020 here at Amazon

    Many people complain about some of the key layouts on this ergo keyboard. The ins/del/home key layout is a bit different than on traditional keyboards. So it’ll take a little practice to get used to it (little being the main word).

    Another thing people mention is that this ergo keyboard requires AAA batteries while the number pad uses a Lithium Coin battery (commonly used in watches). If you use the number pad a lot when you work then the coin battery runs out fairly quickly.

    I haven’t heard any negatives about key touch or pain while typing (quite the opposite actually).

    The Best Carpal Tunnel Keyboard 2020 Runner-ups:

    This ergonomic carpal tunnel keyboard was an incredibly close 2nd place as it has very similar features to the keyboard above. Also at a price tag of only $40 it really is a great buy for something you use 8 hours a day. However, I do have a few small complaints that moved it into 2nd place on my ergo keyboard list.

  1. Noisy keys – I know this is a small gripe, but keyboards don’t have to sound like elephants in high heels. It’s just not necessary any more, and the keys could be much softer.
  2. Many opinions say it only works for a short time – I haven’t experienced this, but many of the opinions on Amazon say that it works for about a year and a half and then the keys stop working all of a sudden. It might be the luck of the draw as others say that it’s worked for years
  3. Bulky – If you have the space for this keyboard then great! But if you’re using a standing desk converter or something where space is a bit limited, you may find that you don’t have the space to accommodate its bulky form

Buy the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

Kinesis Freestyle2 Ergonomic Keyboard

This Kinesis Freestyle2 ergo Keyboard is two baby steps away from being excellent! That’s not to say it isn’t a solid keyboard, but it’s just missing a few things. At a price point of $90 it’s also a bit on the spendy end, but if it lasts a few years under 8 hours a day I’d say 3-4 dollars a month isn’t too high of a price to pay.

  1. Key placement – There are a few keys that require you to completely remove your hand from the keyboard like the escape key. For the ‘home’, ‘end’, ‘pg up’, and ‘delete’ keys you’ll have to look down at your hands. So if you use them often this keyboard probably isn’t for you
  2. No tilt – With the two options above there is a tented design which allows your wrists to be in a more stable and less strenuous position. This keyboard is split, but it’s also flat, so it only got half of the design right, in my opinion
  3. Price point – I know I mentioned this above, but I would like to again because the price isn’t really warranted as there are no programmable keys and it’s just a regular keyboard they split into two pieces to make it more ergonomically sound.

Buy Kinesis Freestyle2 Ergonomic Keyboard

BONUS: Best Portable Carpal Tunnel Keyboard 2020

If you’re someone who likes to work in different coffee shops or carries your laptop around but would still like to use a lightweight, ergonomically designed carpal tunnel keyboard than look no further than the Moko Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard. This probably wouldn’t be for everyday use as it’s small size might hinder some actions, but to use when you’re out of the office, it’s perfect and much better than typing on your laptop keyboard.

  1. Full standard key size
  2. Bluetooth
  3. Compatible with iOS/Android/Windows
  4. Rechargeable battery – 40 hour battery life
  5. 4.9 oz
  6. Automatically turned on when opened and turned off when closed
  7. V-shaped ergonomic design

Buy the Moko Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Now!

Soothe Your Pain with the best carpal tunnel keyboard 2020

Your office awaits

If you’re struggling with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Repetitive stress syndrome, an ergonomic carpal tunnel keyboard just might be what you need to get back to pain-free typing. Working, especially typing, with wrist pain is almost impossible. But, if you stop working, that means you lose clients, and you’ll have to start all over again. Nobody wants that.

The Microsoft Sculpt keyboard line is possibly the best carpal tunnel keyboard for carpal tunnel pain, as well as being one of the most affordable options you can find out there.

Buy The Best Keyboard for Carpal Tunnel 2020 here

If you’re interested in more ergonomic products and pain-free work, then check out my Free Ergonomic Home Office guide! It lists the top 5 ergonomic office products on the market in 2020. They’re perfect for any freelance home office!

Please leave your thoughts and comments about the carpal tunnel keyboard 2020 in the comments, and I will definitely get back to you!

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition.

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John Velasco/Digital Trends

Many people find that their hands and wrists hurt after extensive typing, as typical keyboards force users to pull in and straighten their arm positions, bend their wrists, and hold that position for hours on end. To reduce such pain you might consider investing in one of the ergonomic keyboards on our list of the best ones on the market. Take a look at our top pick: The Logitech Ergo K860 It sports a cushioned palm rest and unique split curve keyframe design to help make typing easier.

The jury is still out on whether ergonomic keyboards do or do not actually preserve users’ wrists, but many people find them more comfortable nonetheless. And if the Logitech Ergo K860 isn’t quite the right fit for your hands, be sure to check out the other options on this list.

The Best

Logitech Ergo K860

John Velasco/Digital Trends

The best ergonomic keyboard you can buy right now is the Logitech Ergo K860. Unlike other keyboards on this list, it sports what Logitech calls a “split curved keyframe.” This means that the keyboard doesn’t lay flat to your desk. The K860 is instead elevated on both the front and back ends, which allows for more comfort and allows you to put your hands in a natural position when typing.

It also has a super comfortable wrist pad that has three layers of material to help reduce strain on your wrist when typing. The keyboard is wireless like most, but it is even multi-platform and thanks to Bluetooth, it can be used with three devices simultaneously, beating out the others on our list.

The Rest

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop

While the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard may not be the fanciest keyboard around, it is easy on the arms, sporting a curved, cushioned palm rest to support users’ wrists as they type. The keyboard is angled to keep wrists in a neutral position, and the keys are arranged in curves to emulate the curvature of human fingers.

Microsoft’s keyboard lacks customization options, but it’s a straightforward, reliable option — that’s rather inexpensive to boot. It’s currently as low as $66 on Amazon, which makes it even better.

If you want a keyboard with a few more bells and whistles, the Logitech K350 may be the right choice. This keyboard is wireless, eliminating at least one of the annoying wires that drape across your desktop’s surface. The cushioned palm rest and wavy keys gently cradle your hands and are complemented by a solid construction ensuring the keyboard will survive frequent travel.

The K350 relies on a mere two AA batteries but promises an “extended” battery life span of up to three years. The F-keys are fully programmable too using Logitech’s free software.

For those who desire even more comfort mixed with an extremely unique design, the Kinesis Freestyle2 is your ticket to ergonomic goodness. Available for both Mac and Windows, it offers a fully split design, allowing users to position their hands as they see fit.

The Freestyle2 wirelessly connects to your PC via Bluetooth, and will even pair with Android or iOS devices. Although it doesn’t have the nicest keys, the freedom to adjust the two halves is a nice (and unique) feature. These two halves are connected by a single cable measuring nine inches by default, but Kinesis serves up a version with a 20-inch separation too.

Backlit keyboards are definitely great for dimly-lit conditions, eliminating the painful key-hunting process for photo/video editors, gamers, and general cave dwellers. Some people find colorful keys a bit gaudy, but there’s a big market for customers who find white illumination boring. If that’s you, the Adesso Tru-Form 150 will make you feel right at home with a choice of green, red, or blue backlighting, and adjustable brightness.

The keyboard lacks a cushioned palm rest, but at least it’s curved, keeping wrists in a neutral position. The Tru-Form also possesses special function keys for adjusting volume and such. It’s not the most comfortable keyboard, but for those who must have lights, it should suffice.

While some people despise the loud clicking of mechanical keyboards, those who love it — and the thrilling ping of a keycap pressing against the switch beneath — may be unable to go back to standard keyboards. If you need a keyboard that is both mechanical and ergonomic, the Matias Ergo Pro offers everything you desire.

Like the Freestyle2, the Matias is a fully split keyboard, so you can maneuver the two halves into whatever positions you feel is most comfortable. This keyboard also sports a cushioned palm rest for maximum comfort, and an uncomfortable price tag at nearly $200. But hey, the Ergo Pro definitely has many virtues for the price.

Surface Ergonomic Keyboard

Finally, we round out this batch with another Microsoft ergonomic keyboard. It’s wireless, it’s pretty, and it’s pretty inexpensive compared to the Matias Ergo Pro. It works with any Windows 10 device that supports keyboard-based input via a wireless USB dongle or Bluetooth Low Energy (4.0/4.1 or later). It sports a natural arc and slope that’s complemented by a two-tone grey palm rest to relieve the pressure off your wrists and elbows, and its key mechanism is sharp and precise.

It’s extremely thin too, measuring up to 1.36 inches at the height of its arc. Other notable features include a key switch life of 500,000 to 10 million presses, battery life promising up to 12 months, multimedia keys, 128-bit AES encryption, and more. It should be noted that the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is purely wireless and must be charged via AAA batteries.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best ergonomic mouse for 2020
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In recent years, ergonomic keyboards have been all the rage. The general idea is that ergonomic keyboards are more comfortable to use, lessen muscle strain while typing, and possibly reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Yet, these claims are inflated. Before shelling out additional cash or more on an ergonomic keyboard, you should be aware of recent research suggesting that the benefits of ergonomic keyboards are outright untrue.

Here are the top six reasons why you shouldn’t waste money on an ergonomic keyboard:

1. Ergonomic keyboards don’t actually protect against injury, or help users recover from typing-related injuries.

The big selling point of ergonomic keyboards is that they prevent typing injuries and are useful to people who already have typing-related injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. However, academic research has demonstrated that this is not actually the case.

Nancy Baker is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, holding a PhD in therapeutic studies. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health funded Baker’s research. She conducted an experiment with 77 subjects, all of whom suffered injuries related to typing. Their injuries included problem with hands, wrists, necks, and/or backs.

Using special technology, Baker videotaped participants typing. Participants also filled out weekly surveys rating their pain levels. About half of participants used an ergonomic keyboard, while the other half used a standard keyboard.

The somewhat surprising finding was that using an ergonomic keyboard had no effect on the pain level of participants. About 80% of participants were pain-free after two months. But that was true of both groups of participants—meaning that the extra expense of ergonomic keyboards just isn’t worth it. While many study participants were surprised by the findings, their meaning is quite clear.

In fact, Baker suggests that keyboards marketed as ergonomic keyboards should be called “alternative” keyboards rather than “ergonomic.” Experts in the field generally agree that “ergonomic” devices have been specifically fitted to individual users. One-size-fits-all “ergonomic” keyboards don’t fit the bill.

As for the claim that ergonomic keyboards prevent injuries, there is no clear evidence to support that claim. A lot of the research extolling the benefits of ergonomic keyboards was conducted by manufacturers of those keyboards, who have a clear, vested interest in promoting their products.

2. Ergonomic keyboards are not intuitive to use for experienced typists.

Most ergonomic keyboards are split down the middle, oftentimes with separated sections for numbers and function keys. This design requires most people to completely reconfigure the typing style they’ve already learned.

The next time you type something up, pay attention to how you’re typing. Chances are that you’re moving both hands all over the keyboard, unconsciously making calculations about how best to expend your movements. Most programs designed to teach typing will suggest that users do just that. For example, you may use your left hand to press the Y key, or your right hand to press the V key.

But with ergonomic keyboards, only one hand can access each half of the keyboard. This will require typists to completely alter their natural typing stance, slowing them down considerably. In many ways, ergonomic keyboards actually require users to expend more energy to do the same work.

3. Ergonomic keyboards don’t actually have a consistent meaning.

Google “ergonomic keyboards,” or maybe enter it into your favorite online shopping site. Chances are, you’ll see many different designs, from the traditional split keyboard to keyboards that are simply curved. There is no single design for an “ergonomic” keyboard. That’s because people have individual bodies and needs that cannot be adequately addressed by so-called “ergonomic” keyboards.

4. Ergonomic keyboards can actually cause certain injuries and fatigue.

Because ergonomic keyboards force users to keep their elbows at a wide distance from their bodies, usage can actually cause the elbows to become fatigued. In some cases, this can lead to injury.

When using the numbers and function keys, your upper arm has to move even more, tiring out your muscles further. This not only can cause additional injury, but will actually make you type more slowly. Having to constantly move your hands long distances can cause your wrists to twist—exactly the injury that users attempt to avoid when using an ergonomic keyboard.

In general, you will actually be using more muscles to type on an ergonomic keyboard. This means more energy expended and more potential for getting hurt.

5. Ergonomic keyboards make people type more slowly.

A lot of offices are buying ergonomic keyboards in bulk for use in the workplace. Yet this can actually have a negative effect on employee productivity. Employees who are accustomed to typing on a regular keyboard will take longer to perform the exact same functions, which will have negative effects on your organization as a whole. Even if writing an e-mail only takes thirty seconds longer, that difference spread out over multiple e-mails across an entire week can have a big impact.

6. Ergonomic keyboards cost a lot of money.

Although there is a wide price range for ergonomic keyboards, many higher end models cost $200, if not twice that amount. Especially if you will be purchasing a great number of keyboards for an office, those numbers can add up. Given that ergonomic keyboards actually come with numerous drawbacks, why overpay for a tool that doesn’t live up to its promises?

Sometimes, people get the design right in the first place. Such is the case for the good old-fashioned keyboard. Don’t fall victim to the hype promoted by ergonomic keyboard manufacturers. Ergonomic keyboards can actually be harmful to users and certainly aren’t worth the hefty price tag attached.

Best Ergonomic Keyboards to Reduce All-Day Typing Strain

All products and services featured here are chosen for their potential to inspire and enable your wellness. Everyday Health may earn an affiliate commission on items you purchase.

For anyone who toils away in front of a computer all day, wrist pain and discomfort are quite common. That’s because the way most people position their hands when typing is unnatural. According to the Occupational and Safety Health Administration, your wrists should be straight and in-line with your forearms. However, as the Department of Labor group explains, traditional set ups “may cause you to bend your wrists sideways to reach all keys.”

That’s why some people swear by ergonomic keyboards — you know, those curvy, wavy, angled and sometimes downright weird keyboards you sometimes see. If you spend several hours a day in front of a computer, though, it might be worth making the switch.

The Benefits of Using an Ergonomic Keyboard

Ergonomic keyboards are designed so that they allow your hands and wrists to rest naturally during long typing sessions. The idea is that spacing out your hands and working at the correct angle can help reduce strain on your neck, back, and shoulders, and perhaps prevent repetitive stress injuries to your hands and wrists like carpal tunnel.

In addition, once typing becomes more comfortable, users say they are able to be more productive and type faster and more accurately than they did before.

It’s important to note that there are no definitive studies that prove ergonomic keyboards can do all that. However, millions of typists who’ve made the switch swear by their effectiveness.

How to Know If You Need an Ergonomic Keyboard

Just about anyone who spends a significant amount of time typing should consider trying out an ergonomic keyboard. If you already experience pain or numbness in your hands and wrists, though, it’s probably best to consult with a medical expert who can recommend the best options for you.

As for people who won’t benefit from an ergonomic keyboard? If you’re more of a “hunt and peck” user, meaning that you look at the keyboard and use one or two fingers when typing, then an ergonomic style will not really help you.

Features to Consider

  • Split design Most ergonomic keyboards literally split the keyboard down the middle, leaving space between TGB and YHN and the space bar, to help reduce wrist pain and discomfort. In some products, you’ll actually have two halves of a keyboard.
  • Customizable Some ergonomic keyboards feature what’s called vertical “tenting,” which is the ability to adjust the angle of the keyboard halves. In some models, you can also tilt the entire keyboard up or down.
  • Wrist/palm support Many ergonomic keyboards have padded palm rests at the front of the keyboard; some are more cushioned than others.
  • Key type Do you prefer keys that are clicky, springy, and mechanical when you type? Or do you like working on keyboards that require less keystroke effort, and make for a more quiet typing session? Another thing to consider is that some ergonomic keyboards don’t features keys in a straight line, but in more of a wave or contoured pattern.
  • Extras Just like with traditional keyboards, some are wireless and connect to your computer via Bluetooth, some are backlit, and there are a variety of special customizable function keys. You might also think about if you want a separate number pad (if you do a lot of calculating, it’s a must).
  • Warranty Most keyboards have between a one- and three-year warranty, which is more important if you’re going with a higher-end model.

With all that in mind, here are our top 6 picks for the best ergonomic keyboards available today.

7 Tips for Managing Arthritis in the Office

Whether you take an elevator to your cubicle or brew some coffee at home and pull out your laptop to get to work, many people with arthritis take part in “the daily grind” of being employed in an office or remote/home workstation.

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RA symptoms in the hands may make typing on a laptop keyboard very difficult. Watch: Hand Rheumatoid Arthritis Video

In order to care for and manage your arthritis throughout your workday in an office environment, consider these tips:

  1. Be mindful of workspace ergonomics.
    As tempting as it may be to work from the couch all day, you should seek out a workspace that allows you to sit upright and keep your back and neck straight, your elbows and knees bent at 90 degree angles, and your feet on the floor.

    See How Arthritis Causes Back Pain

    Use a sturdy chair with good lumbar support and sit in front of a table or desk that’s at about waist height when you’re sitting down. Arm rests are helpful for those with arthritis in their arms or hands too.

  2. Watch: Video: Reverse Arch Stretch (Office Chair Stretch)

  3. Lift your laptop.
    Despite their name, laptops are not good to use on your lap, because looking down at the screen can cause bad posture and pain in your back and neck. But they’re not much better sitting at eye level, either—then your arms and wrist are strained by reaching up to the keyboard. Laptops are designed for portability, not good ergonomics.

    The best way to solve this problem is to do one or both of the following:

    • Use books or a stand to elevate your laptop screen so it’s just below eye level.
    • Use a separate, detachable keyboard that you can use with your elbows at 90 degrees and your wrists level.

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  1. Find a keyboard that’ll keep your wrists happy.
    If you’re getting a detachable keyboard anyway, consider one that’s easier on arthritic hands and wrists. Options include a sloped keyboard that’s high in the middle, a keyboard that’s split in two, and/or one that’s padded to protect the wrists.
  2. See Is My Hand Pain Caused by Arthritis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

    For people with severe hand pain or stiffness, there are even keyboards that are controlled by 2 domes that you rest your hands on and shift slightly to type. There are also short key and word prediction software programs that can help you minimize keystrokes.

  3. Use a more mobile mouse.
    Laptops that have a track pad or tiny joystick may be difficult for arthritis-affected hands to manipulate. Consider using a detachable mouse that is ergonomically suited to your hand mobility. Or work on a tablet or computer equipped with a touchscreen.
  4. See Do Hand Exercises Improve Mobility for Those with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  5. Add other adaptive equipment as needed.
    Several online retailers carry adaptive office supplies for those with arthritis, such as pen grips, special scissors, document holders, and book lights/magnifiers. If your arthritis qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer can provide the assistive devices you need to do your job on a case-by-case basis. Talk with your human resources representative to find out more.
  6. See Pain Medications for Arthritis Pain Relief

  7. Brace yourself for additional workday support.
    You may find that, even with assistive devices, you need extra support during the workday for an arthritic wrist. In this case, consider wearing a working brace, which can stabilize and strengthen your wrist and hand as you carry out daily tasks. Unlike a hard plastic brace that may provide complete immobility at night, a working brace is often made of neoprene with Velcro straps and provides for some flexibility.
  8. Give your brain and body the breaks they need.
    Work smartly by practicing good posture. Take breaks to rest your eyes and get up and walk around. Stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle at your desk. Know your limitations, and talk with your employer if you need assistance with other ways to do your job in an effective and pain-free manner.

Learn more:

Self Care and Exercise to Treat Spine Osteoarthritis

Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis Symptoms

Best Ergonomic Keyboards and Mice to Prevent Wrist Pain

If you spend a lot of your time in the office sitting at a computer, I’m sure you’re used to pain in your hands and wrists. Consistently typing with your fingers can eventually lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. Thankfully, there are a number of different ergonomic keyboards and mice that can help. Although we’ve seen computers change over the years, we’ve now finally begun to see keyboards and mice adapt to people’s needs. With their new sleek designs and methodology, here are the top ten ergonomic keyboards and mice to prevent wrist pain.

The Matias Ergo Pro utilizes the split keyboard design, which makes it easy for users to decide where to place their hands. This design helps improve body posture, in addition to relieving stress from the wrists. Included with the Matias Ergo Pro is a slightly tilted padded palm rest that’s adjustable. This keyboard is also quieter when you type, requiring less pressure and impact than others, great for quiet offices.

Along with Apple, Microsoft is one of the most trusted names in technology and has some of the best ergonomic keyboards and mice available. The Microsoft Sculpt’s keyboard is designed on an angle so your hands feel more natural instead of keeping them straight, which can put stress on your wrists. Another great feature of the Sculpt is that its sloped board is adjustable, depending on your hand size. Though it may seem odd at first, you’ll soon notice less pain in your fingers and wrists with this wireless keyboard.

Here’s another keyboard that’s better for your budget, available on Amazon for under $40. The Fellowes Microban keyboard uses a pattern that’s designed to be more natural and comfortable for your hands. This keyboard also includes antimicrobial protection, so it stays cleaner. Included in the Microban are seven different hot keys, so you can control multimedia with just a push of a button.

Kinesis is leading the way in ergonomic keyboards and mice and took their Freestyle2 keyboard to the next level. Using a split keyboard allows users to adjust their hand positions and is easy to use for any body type or hand size. The keys itself are very light and sensitive, so you’ll never have to add too much pressure or stress from your fingers. While the Freestyle2 is not wireless, it’s still pretty simple and small enough to fit in tighter office spaces.

One of the more inexpensive options is the Adesso Tru-Form Wireless Keyboard. Although it has a different design than most keyboards with its angular keys, it’s actually very basic, without any of the palm rests or adjustability seen in other keyboards. In addition to its sloped board which relieves pressure from your wrists, this keyboard also includes 19 different hot keys, making it even quicker to type with.

While some ergonomic keyboards and mice can be bulky and large, the Goldtouch Go!2 Mobile Keyboard folds in half, making it easy to pack with you. The keyboard itself is Bluetooth activated, and connect to just about any device. You’ll be able to adjust the Go!2 Mobile Keyboard from 0 degrees to 30 degrees vertically or horizontally, making it a simple, highly customizable option for people who have to travel for work.

Vertical mice like J-Tech Digital’s Scroll Endurance allow you to use your whole arm, instead of using your wrists. This vertical mouse feels more natural and comfortable in your hand, relieving tension from your wrists and shoulders. While the Scroll Endurance mouse is not wireless, all you need to do is plug in the USB cable. This mouse also includes a removable palm rest so you can decide what feels best.

This wireless keyboard from Logitech has a soft, padded hand rest, keeping your wrists comfortable. In addition to its wavy keyboard, the K350 feels comfortable under your hands, requiring little movement. Relying on batteries, this keyboard is a great option if you’re on the go or traveling for work. You’ll be able to sync it up with any wireless mouse and easily bring along wherever you go. Logitech is heavily involved in developing inexpensive ergonomic keyboards and mice. The K350 is priced just under $40 on Amazon.

This keyboard is revolutionary. It has been proven to relieve symptoms of carpal tunnel or tendonitis and potentially cure it! The Advantage2 is perfect for programmers, receptionists, or anyone that types on a computer for a long period of time. The keyboard’s unique design helps to reduce the movement of your arms, reducing any strain on your wrists and fingers. The keys are placed in different, more natural angles so your hand feels more comfortable and requires little movement. While the Advantage2 is a little pricey, coming in just over $300 on Amazon, it’s cheaper than multiple doctor visits.

This sleek-looking mouse is one of the most interesting and advanced ergonomic mice. The SlimBlade’s trackball is proven to relieve symptoms of carpal tunnel, as it vastly reduces the amount of movement from your arms. Using laser technology, the SlimBlade is fast and offers accurate scrolling, while taking the pressure off your wrists. Kensington’s ergonomic keyboards and mice are specifically designed for efficiency, using new technologies.

We spend good chunk of our lives typing, like it or not, and the more correct our posture when we do it the better – which is where our definitive lists of the best ergonomic keyboards comes in.

Type with bad form, and you’re setting yourself up for chronic pain, or at least extremities that are taut, achy and uncomfortable. The best ergonomic keyboards on the market take steps to stop hand, wrist and shoulder pain in its tracks, as well as reducing the likelihood of conditions like Repetitive Strain Injury.

Buying an ergonomic keyboard is usually a case of choosing between a keyboard split in two or one designed in a comfort curve – think the keyboard as imagined by Salvador Dali. Both have benefits health-wise, so it’s a case of which layout you prefer and fits your fingers and hands best.

The best ergonomic keyboards for Mac and PC are designed to fit around your hands, enabling them to lie naturally. Without any further ado, read on for our favourite picks in 2019.

  • Best gaming keyboards
  • Best ergonomic mice
  • Best office chairs
  • Best 4K monitors

Attention to posture

Adjust your chair if needed and test out the position. Your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle to avoid any back strain. Your screen should be at eye level. Ideally, your head should be aligned with your spine, your knees should be over your feet and your pelvis tilted slightly back so your weight is resting on your sit bones. Keep your arms loose.

Never hunch over the computer and if you use a laptop, take extra care and pay attention to your posture. If you’re doing a lot of work on a laptop you might consider purchasing a wireless keyboard. When you type, think of playing a piano to get the correct position. Don’t let those wrists droop.

The position of the keyboard

When setting up your computer workstation it’s important to have your chair at the right height. You want to ensure your wrists are not pressing against the hard edge of a table or desk and that they aren’t so high you have to bend them to reach the keyboard. Placing the keyboard on a flat surface at the same level as your elbows will help you with this. You can also have it slightly below your elbows, but it should never be higher.

Note that if your keyboard is placed further back on your desk you may inadvertently rest your arms on the desk, which can also cause strain.
TOP TIP: Using a gel pad can remind you not to rest your wrists on any hard edges, just remember the gel pad is for use between sessions and should not be used when you are actually typing.

Your hands while typing

Before beginning a keyboarding session, it is recommended that you remove any chunky jewellery such as bracelets or heavy rings. Some people like to stretch the muscles in their fingers, hands and forearms both before and after typing. Hint: Experts recommend pushing your palms together like you are praying and rotating your wrists in a circle. It’s also useful to have fairly short nails to allow you to press the keys correctly.

Keeping the hands in a neutral position is crucial. Some individuals find that their wrists turn inward or outward as a result of leaning toward the pinkies or thumbs. This leaning causes the hand to go diagonally across the keyboard. Avoiding wrist injury requires you to type with your hands and wrists straight. This is one reason why an ergonomic keyboard is helpful (although they don’t work for everyone). By splitting the keys so they are wider apart, you don’t have to pull your elbows in and your arms can extend straight out.

TOP TIP: Have a quick look down next time you are typing to see what position your hands and wrists are in. Alternatively, you can ask a friend to take a picture of you so you can self-correct if there is any torquing.

Reviewing technique

Beginner typists have difficulty judging the amount of pressure needed to hit the keys on a keyboard. Unlike the old days of manual typewriters, when you had to bash away at the keys with force, only slight pressure is required and pushing down harder can both increase your chance of injury and result in a key being registered twice by the computer, an error known as ‘Sticky Keys.’
TOP TIP: If you are using Touch-type Read and Spell to learn keyboarding there is a special setting that allows you to turn-off ‘Sticky Keys’ until you become more practiced in your skill.
Your goal should be to let the larger muscles in your hand do the lion’s share of the work to avoid injuring the smaller muscles and bones.
If you follow a touch-typing course you’ll know that the resting position of any typist is the home row and that each finger is responsible for the keys in its direct radius. However, people who have small hands may want to adjust their technique for hitting hard to reach keys to avoid added strain.

More tips for beginner typists.

Quick tips for avoiding injury

  1. Maintain proper posture.
  2. Set up your workstation correctly.
  3. Pay attention to the position of your hands.
  4. Monitor your technique.
  5. Stretch your muscles before and after typing.

What to do if you are injured

When injury occurs you are likely to feel throbbing, cramping, weakness, stiffness and/or a dull, aching pain. This pain may come only after you have been working at the computer or it can affect you throughout the day.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the nerves in the wrist and hand. There is a small opening in the wrist through which tissue, tendon and nerves pass in order to control movement.

The bad news is, once you’ve damaged the median nerve, it can take a long time for it to heal. However, there is good news. The faster you respond to the pain and take appropriate measures to prevent further injury, the less serious the situation will be.

If you are in pain, an immediate solution is to reduce the inflammation with an over the counter anti-inflammatory and to wear a wrist brace. If you can avoid typing, do so. Voice-to-text technology can be a great aid in this respect. Remember that writing by hand can also cause stress on the muscles of the wrist and hand, particularly if you are prone to bearing down on your pen or pencil.

If the pain persists, you may wish to see a doctor to work out the exact cause of the injury. In some cases, a rehabilitation program may be recommended to strengthen the muscles of the arm, wrist and hand.

How you type matters

Many individuals who use a computer throughout their work or school day can benefit from learning how to touch-type, but it’s important to ensure you develop the proper technique and observe safety measures as you learn.
Touch-type Read and Spell is a keyboarding program that teaches you to type and strengthens reading and spelling skills at the same time. As the focus is on accuracy and technique over speed, lessons are broken down into short and compact steps so you can build momentum without long sessions.

Learn more

There is comprehensive instruction on proper posture and a network of tutors who can help you get started with typing, both remotely and face to face.

Learn more about the benefits of touch-typing.

Good keyboard ergonomics practices keep you productive and pain-free at your computer.

Over the past 30 years, as personal computers have grown from novelty to ubiquity, we have all become typists and data-entry clerks. Back when typists used manual and electric typewriters, injuries from such work were relatively rare. Within a decade after the introduction of the desktop computer, repetitive strain injuries and other odd new aches and pains started to appear.

Modern Computer Keyboards

So what changed? Why do modern computer keyboards cause so many more injuries than typewriters did?

We Are All in the Typing Pool Now

Many more people are typing now. Typewriters and data-entry consoles used to be confined to secretaries’ desks, typing pools, and computing rooms. Now no one outside of the executive suite has a secretary, while at the same time our information-heavy jobs require much more writing, analysis, reporting, programming, and other typing-intensive tasks.

Typing Used to Be More Physical

Manual typewriters, and even electric typewriters, involved more body movements, using the whole arm and a variety of muscles, which spread the burden of the movement across more anatomical structures. Modern computer keyboards are designed to require as little movement as possible, so a few structures — the fingers, wrists, and forearms mostly — do all of the work. Modern low-profile keyboards on laptops and desktops also make you reach for the keyboard differently, contorting your forearms into uncomfortable positions. Increasingly compact keyboards bring your wrists closer and closer together, causing you to bend your wrists to line up your fingers with the keyboard (“ulnar deviation” in medical parlance), putting you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive-strain injuries.

Keyboards Are Now Part of a System

Old-fashioned typewriters weren’t inextricably linked to a typing and computing system. The whole computer arrangement (peering into your monitor and reaching out for your mouse and keyboard) promotes the notorious forward-shoulder office posture, which can result in impingement of the nerves and blood vessels that go into the arm and hands. In fact, much of the pain, tingling, numbness, and lethargy that you feel in your arms and hands is actually due to constrictions way up in your chest, shoulders, and neck that ensue from this posture.

Awkward By Design

Modern typing is awkward by design. The familiar QWERTY keyboard layout (named for the first six keys in the upper-left of the keyboard) was actually designed to slow down typists. Early manual typewriters frequently jammed as typists got the hang of the layout and began typing faster than the machine could handle. Despite the typists’ speed, the jams actually slowed down production, so it made sense at the time to throttle back their flying fingers so that they wouldn’t send multiple typebars smashing to the paper at the same time. That relic of the manual-typewriter age now makes typing more awkward than it needs to be.

Applying Ergonomic Principles to Your Computer Keyboard

Here’s how to apply ergonomics principles to the keyboard on your desk.

Neutral Posture

Your keyboard set-up should let you work with your wrists in a relaxed, straight, neutral position. Look at your wrists as you type. Looking from the top, can you draw a straight line from the midline of your forearm to the first segment of your middle finger? If not, your hand has deviated from its neutral side-to-side range, causing stress at your wrist. Looking from the side, can you draw a straight line from the side of your forearm through middle of the Y formed by your relaxed thumb and index finger? If not, your wrist is in flexion or extension. Working from the neutral position between both the side-to-side and flexion and extension ranges is the key to preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries.

Keep your forearms, arms, and shoulders in a neutral position. Place your keyboard so that you can easily reach all the keys with your shoulder blades retracted (pulled back toward the midline), with your upper arms hanging easily straight down at your side, and with your forearms lined up parallel with the surface of your keyboard. If your keyboard is flat and on a flat surface, then your forearms should be roughly parallel to the floor. If your keyboard slopes upward away from you, then your elbows should be a bit below the front edge of the keyboard to keep your forearms parallel to the keypad. Similarly, if your keyboard slopes down and away from you, your elbows should be a bit above the front edge of your keyboard.

No Reaching

You shouldn’t have to reach for your keyboard. Positioning your keyboard so that it draws your hands and arms even just a few inches forward pulls your upper arms and shoulders forward, starting a pattern that eventually leads to the classic “office slump.” Instead, position your keyboard so that you can comfortably reach the main row of keys while keeping your upper arms hanging vertically at your side, with your upper arms resting against your torso.

Neither should you have to reach side-to-side as you work at your keyboard. Many modern office keyboards include a numeric keypad, typically on the right side of the keyboard. If you center the whole keyboard in front of you, you’ll end up constantly reaching to the left. Instead, place your keyboard so that the key for the letter “B” lines up with your body’s midline.

Proper Height

Your keyboard should be positioned so that it is approximately level with your elbows when your arms are hanging naturally at your side. For most desks, the best way to hold your keyboard to achieve this height is to use a keyboard tray that hangs under the front edge of your desk surface. The tray should be wide enough to accommodate both your keyboard and mouse. If you have a numeric keypad on your keyboard, this means you’ll probably need a tray that’s at least 24 inches wide, and ideally a little wider. Many, if not most, keyboard trays are narrower than this. Keyboard tray designers seem to favor a narrow profile, so you may need to shop around for a tray that is wide enough. As of this writing Kensington was producing a 26-inch-wide model and ItalModern a chic-looking 30-inch-wide model. Regardless of the exact width of your tray, make sure that you can position your keyboard tray so that the letter “B” on the keyboard lines up with the middle of your torso, as discussed above.

Some keyboard trays are mounted on a height-adjustable swing arm. These arms also move forward and back as they adjust up and down. Make sure you account for this front-to-back movement as you position your keyboard tray in relation to your chair and monitor.

No Pressure Points & Minimize Static Load

If you have positioned your keyboard at the correct angle, height, and distance for your body, you are unlikely to experience undue pressure on your arms, wrists, or hands. If you do feel pressure, reevaluate your arrangement and see if you can make adjustments that reduce or eliminate it.

After you are satisfied with the angle at which your hands and forearms approach your keyboard, if you still feel like you have to work at it to keep your arms and hands comfortably positioned over your keyboard, you may want to use a wrist support. If you use a wrist rest, make sure that it is supportive enough to comfortably hold your wrists in line with your keyboard and soft enough to feel comfortable against your wrists. Your wrists should feel supported but not compressed. Many wrist rests are made of somewhat exotic materials, so if you have any allergies, be sure to carefully examine the list of materials before buying.

No Excessive Motion

When it comes to typing, the surest way to eliminate unnecessary motion is to learn to touch type. This skill not only distributes your typing effort across all of your digits, it also keeps you from having to constantly look down at the keyboard, helping you avoid neck strain as your head bobs up and down.

On the other hand, looking at the world through an office-fitness filter, always looking for ways to add gratuitous NEAT movement into your workday, you may ask if there’s a way to re-introduce old-fashioned, less-painful, manual typing to the modern office. Indeed there is. The USB Typewriter company helps you convert your old manual typewriter into a modern keyboard input device with a do-it-yourself kit, or you can buy a typewriter that they have already converted for you. I don’t know how NEAT this actually is, but I can guarantee that it would be a lot of fun.

Alternative Keyboard Styles

Lots of us still use standard-issue flat keyboards that come with our computers or on our laptops, but a number of ergonomically more friendly keyboards are available.

You have likely seen the fancy “ergonomic” keyboards made by Microsoft and other manufacturers. These keyboards split the key surface in half and raise it in the middle so that your keyboard looks a bit like a small tent. This keeps you from having to rotate your hands all the way down to a flat position, reducing pressure on your wrists and forearms.

Many other alternative keyboard designs are available. Some slightly angle the keys themselves. Some split the keyboard while keeping the conventional straight layout to reduce your need to pronate (to turn your palm downward) your wrists. Some models, notably those from Kinesis, have little keyboard wells designed to minimize the need to reach for the keys. Some completely split the keyboard so that you can line up each half directly in front of each of your arms. There are even split keyboards that are completely vertical so that you interact with your keyboard more like an accordion player than a typist. A massage client of mine once cut a conventional keyboard in half and hung it over his chair like saddlebags so that he could type with his arms hanging straight down at his side.

All of these designs make sense, in that they attempt to reduce unnecessary pronation, ulnar deviation, and wrist flexion or extension. Many people report more comfort when they use these alternatives. No extensive research supports one option over another, so I urge you to experiment and explore to find the right alternative for you.

One other alternative is available: The Dvorak keyboard layout was designed to undo the deliberate obstacles of the QWERTY layout. A Dvorak keyboard places the most commonly used letters on the middle row of keys under your strongest fingers and is laid out so that common letter combinations alternate between hands. This lets you type using less finger motion, reduces errors, and can increase your typing speed. Most modern computers let you change your keyboard to the Dvorak layout. Because of the steep learning curve, however, few people actually use it. Still, if you are just getting started with typing or you have the patience to re-learn touch typing, the Dvorak layout is worth exploring.

Regular breaks

Operating a keyboard is one of the leading causes of repetitive strain injuries in the office, so it is particularly important to take regular breaks from typing and data entry. Try to alternate between typing and other tasks as much as possible, and take regular breaks to stand up and stretch out your wrists and forearms. Even better, you can eliminate typing almost entirely with Dragon Dictate and similar voice-recognition software.

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