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Alternative Keyboard Styles and Ergonomic Designs That Reduce Pain

We all spend a lot of time on computers, laptops, and tablet devices. While they are convenient and allow us to connect with colleagues and clients, overuse can lead to wrist, neck, and back pain. Pain and injury all comes down to ergonomic issues, and the culprit is often the keyboard you’re using.

What kind of keyboard styles can reduce pain? We explain why ergonomics matters when it comes to your wrists and look at alternatives such as the Dvorak keyboard.

The Problem with Modern Keyboards

If you spend hours each day on a computer, you can begin to develop wrist pain. The reason comes down to the design of modern computer keyboards versus old-fashioned manual/electric typewriters.

Why do modern keyboards cause more pain?

Operating a manual or electrical typewriter involved your whole arm and other muscles. Thus, the movement was more evenly distributed throughout your body.

With the modern keyboard design, your fingers, wrists, and forearms do most of the work. The low-profile design of most laptops and desktops also requires you to reach to touch the keys, which puts your body in an awkward position.

Keyboards have also gotten smaller, which means your wrists are closer together, causing them to bend at an awkward angle.

Even the modern computer arrangement in most offices conspires against us. The normal setup has you hunching forward to peer into a monitor. This puts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in your arms and hands.

Is it any wonder that we would develop pain, tingling, numbness, and lethargy in our arms and wrists after years of sitting and typing in awkward positions?

However, there are alternative keyboards that may provide relief for wrist pain.

Overview of Keyboard Styles:


QWERTY Keyboard

  • The QWERTY keyboard is the most common type of keyboard. The term comes from the fact that the first six letters in the upper left corner spell “QWERTY”. This layout was introduced with the Remington No. 2 back in 1878. Modern computer keyboards (and even tablets and smartphones) kept this same design since people were already familiar with it.

Non-QWERTY Keyboards

  • There are a few alternatives to the old-fashioned keyboard. Let’s look at QWERTY vs. Dvorak.

    The Dvorak keyboard was patented in 1936. The design places the most commonly used keys in the “home row”. The least commonly used keys are placed in the bottom row. In theory, the design is meant to be more efficient and allow for faster typing.

Ergonomic Keyboards

  • You can find ergonomic keyboards that will ease the strain on your wrist, neck, and back. They will also help reduce issues such as Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI).

Some designs have a fixed curve, while others feature two halves with an adjustable hinge. Still other models feature two separate halves that are only connected by a wire. These provide a lot more flexibility and room for adjustment.

Consider adding more ergonomic accessories to your workstation.

You can also look for accessories that offer ergonomic relief. There are ergonomic mice designed for either right-handed or left-handed orientations. You can also find mice in different sizes for a more comfortable fit.

Another alternative is a trackball mouse. With this design, the mouse remains stationary while a tracker ball (aka rollerball or trackball) controls the movement of the curser.

If you have a laptop, consider buying an adjustable laptop desk, which raises the screen to reduce strain on your neck and back. You can buy a separate keyboard, which remains on the desk so your wrists are aligned in the proper position.

 In conclusion, reduce wrist strain and pain with ergonomic alternatives to the status quo.

The modern computer set up can unfortunately lead to wrist pain. Alternative layouts like the Dvorak, as well as other non-QWERTY keyboard styles could be beneficial.

You should also look at ergonomically designed keyboards and accessories such as a mouse, laptop desks, and standing desks. If you have questions, Contact Us at, we will be happy to help you find keyboards and other accessories that can reduce your wrist pain. Take a look at our Virtual Ergonomics Assessments for remote workers as well.

At we value the importance of a positive workplace culture. Part of a positive workplace is a safe workplace, Contact Us to schedule an ergonomics consultation or ergonomics assessment for your office today.

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