Does your hand, wrist, arm, or elbow ache after a long day on the computer? Is your mouse shiny and worn smooth where you’ve been gripping it? If so, you may be over-mousing.
Excess mouse use is associated with increased risk of discomfort in the hand, wrist, and arm. This is because working with a standard mouse requires twisting (pronating) the forearm so the hand is parallel with the desk. In this position, you need all five fingers to grasp the mouse. You might also bend your wrist from side to side to steer the mouse, and then press the mouse button to click on a link or target on your computer. These movements require awkward postures, generate muscle tension, and cause significant strain in the hand and arm. And, if you leave you hand on the mouse for long periods, your muscles can become stuck in a state of low-grade static tension.
Give your mouse—and your hand and arm—a break. Try these tips for more comfortable computer work:
- Release the grip and rest your hand beside the mouse. Every time you pause to think, listen, talk, read, or wait for the computer, roll your hand off the side of the mouse and rest with thumbs up and fingers curled.
- Learn and use a few keyboard shortcuts. Using shortcuts is easier on the arm because they typically require one or two fingers and can often be performed with a relaxed hand and straight wrist. Some of my favorites include Esc, Tab, Enter, Page Up/Page Down, and Alt + Tab. Search online for “keyboard shortcuts” for your commonly used programs and applications.
- Consider using an angled or vertical mouse to reduce arm twisting and to help you maintain a comfortable curve in your fingers.