Is computer mousemat wrist support a waste of time?

It is an occupational hazard for those who use computers a lot that they feel twinges in their wrists, hands, fingers and forearms. I, for one, have to admit that I end up getting my continual warnings. Previously, this has taken the form of wrist fatigue, weakness and discomfort and mouse mats with wrist support have taken pride of place on computer desks frequented by my person. Keyboard wrist supports have been another staple when at my workplace.

More recently, I have been exposed to a new bespoke-built application at work and its testing has meant a lot of intensive mouse work and it can be very repetitive. The can take its toll and my fatigued fingers have been enough to make me speak to the occupational health department at work. To their credit, they recognise the issues and I am getting some advice from a physiotherapist. The obvious resolution is of course the very one that you can never do as much as you want when you are an application developer: rest from computer-related activities. I work with someone for whom rest has not worked and his problems have made him ambidextrous; I am right-handed and find it tricky to use a mouse with my left but that’s what he has mastered. Exercises are another necessity; vigorous hand shaking together with wrist rotations and stretches are among those that I have been told to do every thirty minutes while using a PC. I don’t know how that appears to my work colleagues but it sounds like something that could look a little odd to those not in the know. Anything has to better than doing permanent and lasting damage…

Doing daft exercise is fine in the comfort of one’s own home though and that brings me to another point: you cannot just concentrate on your work set up and forget about that at home.Spending hours playing computer games on a dining table and seated on a dining room chair is never going to help your cause; that’s not something that I have ever done but it’s a story that I have heard. I have certainly made some adjustments so that my wrist and arm are level with one another; the latter was likely to be inclined at an angle at times with some strain on the wrist. Nine years go, I have had an inappropriate chair adding to the discomfort of pulled back muscles so my current home computer chair became a required acquisition, from Argos as it happened. It performs sterling service but that has not stopped me wondering about one with armrests but that could be down to my using a computer desk with a roll out keyboard shelf.

Another key piece of advice is to relax my hand on the mouse and for that you need to set up your desk properly. A lot of problems are caused by the habit of holding the palm of one’s hand in thin air over a mouse and my long fingers make the practice easier to do than it should be. Having a mouse with wrist support exacerbates the situation and I have come to the conclusion that I need my wrist resting directly on the desk and that allows my arm to move the mouse too and not just my wrist. That allows me to rest the palm of my hand and my fingers on the mouse. It seems to be better for me but it leaves one question: how did wrist supports get added to mouse mats in the first place? Saying that, I am not in a position to question the use of keyboard wrist supports but typing has never been known cause me any real problems.

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