The improper use of our everyday technology can severely affect our health. Sitting for too long impacts the health of our spine, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels, so much so that many people have started using standing desks.
Our general posture while sitting is important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important. How we operate the gadgets we use in everyday life, such as a mouse, keyboard, or phone, or how we position our computer screens also play a role in our overall health and well-being.
Did you know carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common work-related injuries? The leading cause is overusing the wrist through monotonous wrist activity, such as typing on a keyboard or using a computer mouse for extended periods of time.
If you work on your computer, you have to know how to hold a computer mouse properly to minimize this risk. In this article, we’ll address some common mistakes you can make when holding a mouse and share tips you can use to improve your wrist health.
What Is the Ideal Position of a Mouse?
Where the mouse is positioned relative to your body is just as important as how you use it.
There are many ways to position your mouse comfortably, but many are actually unnatural for your wrist.
Some people keep it too far, so they need to constantly reach out for it, keeping their muscles and tendons extended over prolonged periods. If, on the other hand, you keep it too close to the keyboard, you can experience neck and shoulder pain because you’ll unconsciously keep pushing your shoulders inwards as you navigate with the mouse.
When you sit at your desk, try to stay mindful of the position of the mouse. Put it at a distance from the keyboard that allows you to relax your shoulders and neck.
The second important thing is the position and height of the mouse and this also has to do with how high your desk is. Ideally, the height and position of the mouse should allow you to keep your elbow at a 90-degree angle from your body. If your elbow is too low, your forearm will be slightly raised, which puts your wrist in a slightly flexed position, and vice versa — if your elbow is too high, it will put your wrist in an extended position.
- If you move your mouse around unconsciously, using a mouse tray ensures you’re not going too far away with your mouse or too close.
- Another helpful accessory you can use is an ergonomic mouse pad with wrist support. This pad will help release tension from your hand and lower arm and limit your mouse movement.
Once you’ve figured out the best position for the mouse, it’s time to turn your attention to functionality. Let’s discuss the proper and improper ways of using a computer mouse.
How to Hold a Mouse Properly
The best way to use your mouse is to hold it loosely and click lightly. However, there are three styles of mouse holding that are the most widespread among computer users:
- The palm grip
- The fingertip grip
- The claw grip
The palm grip is highly popular among people with smaller hands, especially when using a larger-sized mouse. People who like to use their palm grip place their whole hand over the mouse while they grip the sides of the mouse with their thumb and little finger. The palm grip is a more natural grip that most people use.
The fingertip grip is popular among professionals who click a lot. With the fingertip grip, the palm hovers slightly above the mouse, and the fingertips are positioned on the front buttons for quick clicking.
The claw grip is popular among people with larger hands and those who unconsciously use their mouse as a stress reliever. If you make your palm grip a claw-like shape, you’ll get what we mean).
All three styles put pressure on the tendons and muscles, especially in the hand and lower arm.
Here’s how to hold your mouse to avoid this type of tension.
Use the Handshake Position
The most natural position for the wrist is the handshake position, where the hand is positioned vertically, with the index finger and thumb over the mouse and the middle and little fingers on the side. This position engages the least number of muscles and tendons, and wrist rotation is minimized.
Maintaining a handshake position with a traditional mouse is difficult, although it is possible with ergonomic, leaning padding. However, it’s much better to use an ergonomic mouse designed to keep your hand in a handshake position since all of its buttons and functions are moved to the side.
One of the best ergonomic models so far is the vertical mouse by the brand Dareu. Asoyiol’s ergonomic wireless mouse with 6 buttons comes at a close second. However, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly choice, check out Perixx and Vassink.
Do Not Grip
As mentioned above, the three most common ways of operating a computer mouse all involve gripping it. This hold is wrong, as it overuses your muscles and tendons and can easily lead to inflammation and Carpal tunnel syndrome. The advice may fall hard on some of you (gamers, we’re looking at you), but you must stop gripping your mouse.
Gripping happens unconsciously, and it’s sometimes out of your control, but if you pick an ergonomic mouse with the right size for your hand, you can reduce its likelihood.
Adjust the Sensitivity of the buttons
If you use a mouse all the time, it’s also a good idea for the buttons to have the right sensitivity. Sensitive mouse buttons allow you to reduce pressure and movement while responding with your fingers.
Avoid Windshield Movements
The human wrist contains many blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and tendons. Misusing a mouse can cause pressure on them and result in wrist pain, tendon inflammation, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions.
If you are constantly burdening the wrist and making windshield movements that consistently bed the wrist outwards from the arm while clicking the buttons on the mouse, your risk of developing some of the issues mentioned above increases. So, try to avoid ulnar and radial deviations of the wrist. This means minimizing left and right windshield movements.
Just like the grip, the windshield motion can be automatic and out of your conscious control. You can help yourself by getting a mouse with higher sensitivity. The Sokelinn-six has great, ergonomic, vertical, wired, and wireless models that can help minimize windshield movements.
Learn the Elbow Maneuver
Learning how to control your mouse from the elbow instead of the wrist can be a real game-changer when it comes to injuries and wrist health. The elbow movements will protect the wrist but can negatively affect the shoulder if you’re not careful.
What can help you is maneuvering the mouse from the elbow, as it will keep the wrist in a relatively relaxed and stationary position. Another good idea is to switch to a trackball mouse (with ergonomic features, of course) that doesn’t even require wrist use.
Types of Ergonomic Mouse Devices
Depending on how old you are, you may remember the times when all computer mouse devices looked completely the same, had hard-to-click buttons (compared to today’s standards), and a small, heavy ball inside.
With time, the industry became more aware of the kinds of problems that can arise with more frequent use of computer equipment. That’s why computer mouse devices have evolved and nowadays come in various shapes and sizes.
For example, old mouse models used to neglect left-handed people, but today, we have ambidextrous mouse devices.
We’ve already mentioned vertical, ergonomic mouse devices, and almost all brands today produce them. Most of the highest-end models also come with high-sensitivity buttons and both right-hand or left-hand orientations.
There is also the trackball mouse or the roller mouse, which is ideal for releasing tension in your wrist and giving your elbow movement control.
How you hold your mouse during the long hours spent in front of the computer can be the deciding factor in your risk of inflammation, wrist pain, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Fortunately, with proper preventative care, you can significantly improve your experience with the computer mouse and fully protect yourself from developing any of these chronic issues.
By choosing the right side of the mouse for your hand, using an ergonomic mouse, or improving the sensitivity of your mouse, you’ll address your subconscious tendencies to grip or push your mouse with more force than it’s necessary. At the same time, holding your hand in the proper handshake position will help you avoid unnecessary wrist twisting.