If you’re an office worker that spends a lot of time at a computer, you probably know what it’s like to have discomfort in your hand and wrist from frequent mousing.
And you know it’s no fun at all. If the pain and discomfort persists over time, a musculoskeletal injury is likely to develop. If that doesn’t convince you to select and use your mouse correctly, a quick Google image search of “carpal tunnel syndrome surgery” should do the trick.
If painful surgery isn’t on your to do list, up your office ergonomics game with the following helpful tips and guidelines for using your computer mouse correctly.
(Note: There are many different types of computer mice and considerations for selecting the right one for you. This article is meant to be an introductory primer to get you started.)
Video: How to Choose a Mouse
In this video, Steve Meagher, PT, CEAS explains different types of computer mice and the pros and cons of each.
(Can’t see the video? Watch on YouTube.)
Tips for Selecting and Using a Computer Mouse
As you can tell from the video, there are many different types of computer mice and considerations for choosing one that’s right for you. Renowned researcher and ergonomics professor Dr. Alan Hedge offers ten helpful tips on the Cornell University Ergonomics Web that provide greater insight into what you should be looking for.
Here is a quick rundown of the tips and a summary of each:
1. Mouse Grip
Don’t grip your mouse too hard! This puts unnecessary strain on your hand and wrist. Lightly grip your mouse while you roll it over the mousing surface.
2. Mouse from the Elbow
It’s important to keep your wrist in a neutral posture, so mouse from the elbow. If you use your wrist as the pivot point, the micro-movements take your wrist out of a neutral posture.
3. Optimal Mouse Position
According to Hedge, if you sit back in your chair, relax your arms then lift your mousing hand up while pivoting at the elbow until your hand is just above elbow level, your mouse should be positioned somewhere around this point.
4. Protect Your Wrist
You’ll remember from the video above that contact stress on the heel of the wrist is a common problem with most computer mice. Minimize this as much as you can to protect your wrist.
5. Avoid Restricting Circulation
Again, avoid contact stress in the wrist. Restricting blood flow into the hand increases injury risk.
6. Don’t Use a Wrist Rest
Research has shown that a wrist rest increases pressure inside the carpal tunnel.
7. Avoid Restricting Arm Movement
Mousing from the elbow requires arm movement, so make sure there is plenty of room for movement. If you restrict your arm from moving, it will encourage mousing from the wrist which increases stress and strain.
8. Keep the Mouse Free Moving
Similar to the point above, make sure there is plenty of room for the mouse itself to move.
9. Mouse Shape
Use a symmetrically shaped mouse that fits your hand and is as flat as possible to reduce wrist extension.
10. Load Sharing
If you’re ambitious, you can try load sharing. This means you choose a workstation setup that will allow you to switch the mouse between your right and left hand, like a switch hitter in baseball.
Computer Mouse Articles and Resources
For more information and resources on computer mouse selection and use, check out the links below:
- 10 Tips for Using a Computer Mouse (CUErgo)
- Computer Mouse Selection and Use (CCOHS)
- How to Choose a Mouse (Steve Meagher, PT, CEAS)
- Computer Mouse Research Projects (CUErgo)
Grab a free copy of our office ergonomics checklist
For more on how to set up your office workstation, grab a free copy of our office ergonomics checklist.