As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, so many more of us are now working from home. But, with such a sudden change in circumstances, a lot of people are unprepared with a sufficient home office, resorting to working from laptops on the sofa or sitting uncomfortably at the kitchen table. This means we are much more likely to be making errors with our typing position. It may seem insignificant, but a poor typing posture can cause significant discomfort and pain in your hands, wrists, back and neck. Even if you are not experiencing pain after a day spent at your computer, that doesn’t mean you’ve avoided the dangers of an incorrect typing position.
Bad posture and positioning of your wrists and keyboard could be causing microtraumas that you may not notice before the real damage is done. In this guide, we will discuss the risks of an unsuitable typing position, as well as detailing the ideal ergonomic typing posture and how to maintain it when working from home.
Click on a link to jump to that section:
Read the health risks of not following the correct ergonomics at home.
Common typing mistakes made when working at home.
Our guide to the correct typing posture when working from home, including tips on mouse, computer and keyboard placement.
A guide to the equipment that will help ensure your home working set-up is ergonomic.
Read frequently asked questions on typing ergonomics.
Why is it important to maintain the correct typing posture at home?
When your typing ergonomics and posture is wrong, you put yourself at risk of the following:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Repetitive typing can cause the carpal tunnel in your wrist to swell and put pressure on a nerve, which can result in:
- Pain or a dull ache in the fingers, hands, or arms
- Pins and needles throughout the hand and forearm
- Weakness in the thumb and poor grip strength
- Numb hands
Once the median nerve has been damaged by carpal tunnel it can take a long time to heal, which stresses the importance of taking the appropriate measures to prevent any further injury (source).
Repetitive Strain Injury
Long periods of working at a computer in a non-ergonomic typing position can result in repetitive strain injury, which has the following symptoms:- Aches and pains- Persistently cold hands, especially the fingertips- Weakness and numbness in the arms and/or hands- Swelling or tingling
When typing for a prolonged period, the tendons in your wrists move back and forth, causing friction and therefore microtrauma in the wrist. This is known as tendonitis and can result in throbbing, stiffness, weakness, cramping and a dull ache at the wrist (source).
Back and Neck Pain
It’s likely that you won’t even realise how much you are straining your back and neck when typing at your computer until you start feeling aches and pains. Poor posture at your keyboard can cause misalignment of your upper body, causing excess strain and therefore significant pain and discomfort in your neck, shoulders and upper back.
You can read our guide to ensuring your home office chair is ergonomic here.
Common Typing Mistake Made When Working From Home
Working from home is probably very different from your actual office, which makes it very easy to slip into bad habits. Common typing mistakes to avoid include:
- Slouching over a laptop without making adjustments, causing back and neck pain.
- A cluttered desk space that can result in arm and wrist strain.
- Incorrect keyboard placement, which can lead to carpal tunnel and repetitive strain injury.
- A badly placed mouse, which should be on the same level as your keyboard.
- Typing too hard often results in pain in the fingertips.
- Working for long periods without taking breaks can cause strain and stiffness in the hands and wrists.
- Incorrect desk or monitor height.
- Leaning on the wrist or heel of the hand, which can damage the nerve in your carpal tunnel.
What is the Correct Typing Posture when Working From Home?
Prevent any of the muscle strains above by adopting an ergonomic typing posture when working from home. Follow these tips for a comfortable working position that minimises strain:
Correct keyboard placement
If you are using a computer monitor, your keyboard should be on a flat surface, just below the elbow level and sloping slightly down and away from you. An ergonomic keyboard will make typing much more comfortable.
Neutral wrist position
Your wrists should not be pointing up or down and your thumb should be in-line with your forearm. Your wrists should be floating above and parallel to the keyboard.
Adjust your keyboard and chair height to allow your elbows to be at a 90-degree angle. Type with your arms relaxed and close to your sides. If you find your shoulders are hunched up towards your ears, lower your keyboard or raise your chair.
Proper mouse placement
Your mouse should be placed close to your keyboard in a position that enables you to keep your arms at a 90-degree angle, with no twisting or straining the wrist up or down.
The top of the screen should be level with your eyes to prevent neck injury, but not so close that it may cause eye strain.
If you are working from a laptop at home, you can improvise and place it on a secure object or pillow so the top of the screen is level with your eyes. You can also alter your chair if necessary – if you sitting too high up, lowering your chair or sitting on a smaller chair will help you to maintain an ergonomic position.
Are you working from a laptop at home? Read our guide to working from a laptop ergonomically to prevent injury.
Your feet should be on the floor or rested flat on a footrest if your feet don’t touch the floor and avoid tucking or extending your legs if possible. Your back should be far back in the chair, with no hunching forward.
Regular breaks are recommended, so every 20 or 30 minutes take a few minutes away from your computer to stand and stretch.
What equipment can Improve your Working From Home Set-up?
There are some really simple ways you can improve your working from home set-up, including using a book to raise your monitor or using cushions to improve your posture.There are a number of professional products that can further improve your office ergonomics, including laptop and monitor stands, which raise your screen to the most comfortable level. This will reduce neck strain, even when using your computer for prolonged periods of time. Ergonomic mice and keyboards will reduce strain in the wrist and hands, preventing the likes of repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Vision H Monitor and Laptop Stand
The new Vision H monitor and laptop stand has been designed specially to provide ergonomic support to home workers. Adjustable to a range of heights, this stylish and compact design helps prevent issues related to poor posture, such as repetitive strain injury and neck, shoulder and back pain.
Do ergonomic keyboards prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
Although there is not currently any conclusive evidence that an ergonomic keyboard can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, they certainly can help to reduce strain on the body – including the wrists – when working from home.Ergonomic keyboards minimise muscle strain, reducing the risk of injury by correcting awkward hand and wrist positions. If you feel strain in your wrists when typing, you may benefit from using an ergonomic keyboard.
Does an ergonomic mouse prevent hand pain?
A well-designed ergonomic mouse keeps your hand in a comfortable position, no matter how much scrolling and clicking you do. By fitting snuggly into your hand, an ergonomic mouse lets you work from home for hours at a time, with minimal or no pain or discomfort.
Why is typing ergonomics important?
Typing ergonomics are so essential for working from home, to prevent injury and pain for a long day of typing. As mentioned previously, poor posture and an incorrect typing position can cause repetitive strain injury – and other muscle strains – which can lead to impaired muscle and tendon function in the future.
How do you take a typing ergonomics test?
There are many typing tests that can be taken online for free, most of which include very useful keyboard tutorial videos.
What is an ergonomic keyboard?
Designed to make typing as comfortable for you as possible, ergonomic keyboards help prevent you from developing repetitive strain and muscle injuries. Ideal for typing for long periods, these keyboards usually have a v-shape, helping to keep your hands and wrists as static as possible, as well as improving the angle of your hands, providing maximum comfort and minimal strain.
Should your keyboard be flat or raised?
For correct ergonomic placement, your keyboard should be placed on a flat surface, just below elbow level. If possible, your ergonomic keyboard should be gently sloping away from you in a negative tilt as this allows your arms to follow the downward slope of your thighs and keeps your elbows at an open angle of 90 to 110 degrees. This keeps your forearms and shoulders relaxed, reducing tension.
Should your arms rest on the desk while typing?
No, as this causes your wrists to tilt and strain at an awkward angle. Your arms should be held close to your sides and hanging in a relaxed posture.
What can you do to treat wrist pain?
If you’re experiencing pain and/or inflammation from carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury, wrap an ice pack in a towel and place it on the affected area to reduce discomfort.Reduce the risk of further wrist pain, practice adopting an ergonomic wrist position when typing. They should be in a neutral position, not pointing up or down. Your thumb should be in-line with your forearm. If you are struggling with correct typing ergonomics, an occupational therapist can teach you how to type for long periods, correctly and without discomfort.
How do I stop a mouse from hurting my hands?
Your hands can hurt when using a poor quality mouse, as the small muscles can become overworked by clicking and scrolling repeatedly. Plus, if your mouse is poorly positioned it can cause strain in other muscles, by making you overreach.Stop a mouse from hurting your hands, by investing in an ergonomic mouse, make sure that it is placed close to your keyboard and keep your hands level with your elbows.
Do wrist rests reduce fatigue and carpal tunnel syndrome?
A padded wrist rest can be used to support your wrists when using a computer mouse for long periods of time. This stops your hand from resting at an uncomfortable or unnatural angle, reducing the risk of injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Are you struggling to work ergonomically from home? Shop our full range of homeworking products here.