What is an Ergonomic Keyboard?

what is an ergonomic keyboardConventional keyboards, force hands, fingers, and arms into an unnatural parallel position that can cause tension in muscles, tendons, and joints. Working day in day out in an unnatural position will in the long term lead to physical discomfort that can result in various forms of RSI Syndrome. Repetitive Strain Injuries are caused by repetitive movements and overuse in unnatural positions and can affect the whole body. An ergonomic keyboard in an ergonomic work environment can help to prevent them. But what is an ergonomic keyboard?

What Is An Ergonomic Keyboard?

An ergonomic keyboard is ergonomically shaped to ensures a natural posture of the hands and forearms while typing. If you just type occasionally an ergonomic keyboard might not be for you. But anybody who spends many hours a day 10 finger touch typing doing text or data entry might benefit from an ergonomically designed keyboard.

Many different ergonomic designs are available all intend to promote a healthy posture. Some are curved, some are V-shaped while others divided in the middle of the keypad with one block each for the left and the right hand.

Working with an ergonomic keyboard in a natural, ergonomic posture on the computer helps to prevent physical discomfort of fingers, wrists, forearms, and shoulders.

It needs some time to get used to those ergonomic designs, but once used to it most people won’t give them up again.

Features of an ergonomic keyboard

  1. Wrist Rest – The keyboard should have a soft wrist rest. When typing without an ergonomic wrist rest, the wrist is slightly angled upwards.  Supporting the heel of the hand with a wrist rest relieves the wrist of this unnatural posture.
  2. Split keypad – A straight keyboard forces the hands to angle outward. This unnatural angle may cause tendons excessively rubbing on the tendon sheaths which can lead to inflammation. The split keypad is one of the most distinguishing features of an ergonomic keyboard.
  3. Arched keypad –  The keyboard is arched upwards in the middle sloping down towards the side so the outer keys are located lower than the keys in the middle of the keyboard. This design also ensures that the muscles are relieved and the blood flow in the wrists and fingers is improved.
  4. Backward sloping keys – If the key tilt slightly backward or the keyboard is tilted backward, the natural posture of the hand and forearms are supported.

How does an ergonomic keyboard help you?

Sitting on a desk all day doing computer work demands more from your body than you may think. The human anatomy is simply not made to spend the day in unhealthy postures doing repetitive moves. The result can be the overuse of certain muscles, tendons and joints, and consequently pain and inflammation of the same.

I an effort to reduce the risk or to alleviate symptoms, creating an ergonomic workplace with an ergonomic chair, desk, and peripherals is the answer. Getting an ergonomic keyboard and mouse is one right step. An ergonomic keyboard can keep your hands in a natural position.

Who can get Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrome?

The short answer: Anyone.

In particular: office workers, typists, data entrists, gamers, authors, and about anyone who spends extended time in front of a computer. So everybody should worry about an ergonomic keyboard. Don’t wait until you start to notice symptoms of tennis elbow or backaches or other troubles.

There are many different designed ergonomic keyboards. To find the one that is most suitable for your purpose and the kind of work you do will require testing what you are most comfortable with. It is, however, a balancing act to find the perfect keyboard.

What to consider when buying a keyboard?

  • What’s the keyboard for
  • Are office user or a gamer?
  • How many hours do you work daily
  • Do you write a lot of text or work with numbers
  • Number users need a separate number pad
  • Do you need programmable keys for shortcuts
  • Do you really need an ergonomic keyboard
  • Can the keyboard be additionally tilted and tilted
  • Do you need backlighting
  • Mechanical or membrane keyboard
  • Wireless or USB

Who actually needs an ergonomic keyboard?

No matter as many benefits an ergonomic keyboard may have, these benefits can only be fully realized by users that spend many hours a day 10 finger touch typing. So they are really only for professionals that have mastered blind touch typing.

Most people that “work” with the two-finger search system, will not benefit from an ergonomic keyboard.

For people who write professionally, writers, data entry clerks, secretaries, etc, an ergonomic keyboard can reduce RSI problems. In everyday use minimizing the strain on fingers, hand, wrist or forearms can improve performance and workflow.

Popular Ergonomic Keyboards

Logitech K350

Last update on 2021-06-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The K350 is amongst Logitech’s most popular ergonomic keyboards. The K350  is designed like a wave and automatically puts your hands in the right position. In addition to those health-promoting properties a number of other useful features, make it a great all-around keyboard. The wireless keyboard has many functions and color-contrasted media buttons, some of which can be individually programmed. The soft wrist rest supports and ensures the correct height of your hands and forearms.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Pleasant and non-slip surface
  • Cushioned soft palm rest
  • Two additional buttons (forward / backward)
  • Wireless, powered by two AAA batteries
  • No optical indicator for NumLock or Shift
  • Without a backward tilt option

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic (5KV-00001)

Last update on 2021-06-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A popular and ergonomic keyboard from Microsoft. The Sculpt Ergonomic combines the positive qualities of ergonomic working with an extremely compact design.

The ergonomically designed keyboard, with the arched split keypad, the integrated soft palm rest, ensure comfortable working in a natural posture.  This wireless keyboard with a separate number pad is powered by 3 AAA batteries. An included ergonomic mouse makes a package complete.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Innovative design
  • Curvature in the middle
  • Backward tilt
  • Wrist rest for a comfortable posture
  • The number pad is separate
  • Pleasant and short stroke of the keys
  • Cheap ergonomic keyboard compared to others
  • Keypad (Page Up, Page Down, etc.) is not optimally located

Perixx PERIBOARD-512 Ergonomic Split Keyboard – Natural Ergonomic Design

Last update on 2021-06-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Perixx PERIBOARD-512B Ergonomic Split Keyboard supports the natural posture and conforms to the exact contour of your shoulder, arm, hand, wrist, and finger positions.

The top of the Perixx PERIBOARD keyboard is equipped with seven additional keys, that let you open a browser or adjust the volume, check emails, etc. Priced very affordable and built to last, the Perixx keyboard is a very good alternative to some of the more expensive keyboards.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Ergonomically split keyboard layout
  • Wrist rest made of plastic
  • The buttons are easy to click
  • Programmable additional keys
  • Available in black and white
  • Cheap ergonomic keyboard compared to others
  • Has no curvature and cannot be tilted backward

So are ergonomic keyboards worth it?

For someone who has to use a keyboard as a tool throughout the day, back pain, shoulder tension, tendonitis, and RSI syndrome are often side effects of poor posture and repetitive movements. A good ergonomic keyboard with padded palm rests, split design, and a detachable number pad takes some getting used to, but will soon convince with its advantages.