Can Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards Help in Reducing Wrist Pain?

May 13, 2024

You're in your office doing overtime work to finish a ground-breaking, deal-closing project. As hours go by, your wrists feel stiff, weary, and painful as if iron bands are squeezing it tight. And ouch! A stabbing pain? How can you continue to work with a strained wrist that hurts at the slightest movement?

Wrist pain is a common occurrence when typing on a standard keyboard. A variety of factors cause this discomfort---typing too long, improper typing posture, awkward wrist positions, and more. If not addressed, that wrist pain can turn into something worse---repetitive stress injury.

An ergonomic mechanical keyboard is an important component in your workstation or game station as this can help mitigate wrist strain. In this article, we'll find out how it does so. We will also uncover the dangers of prolonged typing and include tips on attaining proper typing posture.

What Causes Wrist Pain When Typing?

At one time or another, you will feel a sharp stinging pain on your wrist when you're typing or playing a game on your keyboard. What causes this pain? There are several factors common causes:

  1. Poor Ergonomics: This is one of the main reasons why your wrist feels strained and painful.  Typing on a keyboard that is not ergonomically designed can put strain on the wrists. Unfortunately, most standard keyboards are not ergonomic because they are based on an old design that does not consider human physiology.
  2. Incorrect Typing Technique: Typing with improper hand and wrist positioning can strain the tendons, ligaments, and muscles. This often happens when your wrists are too high or too low while typing.
  3. Awkward Wrist Posture: Typing on a keyboard that is not ergonomic forces your wrists into awkward angles such as excessive extension (bending the wrist upward) or flexion (bending the wrist downward). These unnatural positions can strain the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the wrists, leading to pain and discomfort.
  4. Repetitive Movements: Constantly performing the same typing motions can overuse and inflame the muscles, ligaments, and tendons on your wrist and forearm. 
  5. Pressure on the Median Nerve: Prolonged typing can compress the median nerve, which passes through the carpal tunnel. Left unabated, compression of the median nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome,  causing pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and fingers. 
  6. Muscle Fatigue and Tension: Typing for long hours without breaks can cause the muscles in the hands and wrists to become fatigued and tense. When muscles become fatigued, they are more prone to strain and injury.
  7. Excessive Force: Typing with excessive force or pounding on the keys can strain the muscles and tendons in the wrists. 

What Are the Potential Risks Associated with Prolonged Keyboard Use?

We live in a modern society where we spend 8 hours or more in front of a computer. This is unavoidable as work becomes more competitive, games become more challenging, and the Internet expands in its capabilities.

Prolonged keyboard use, especially when coupled with non-ergonomic computer peripherals and repetitive movements, can pose several health risks.

  1. Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs): Typing for long periods without taking a break can lead to repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and cubital tunnel syndrome. These conditions are caused by repetitive motions that strain the tendons, muscles, and nerves in the hands and arms.
  2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): CTS is a common condition caused by excessive pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. Exacerbated CTS may require surgery for treatment.
  3. Tendonitis: Tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons, can occur in the wrists, hands, and fingers due to repetitive keyboard use. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected areas.
  4. Muscle Strain: Typing for extended periods without proper ergonomics can strain the muscles in the hands, wrists, and forearms. 
  5. Poor Posture: Prolonged keyboard use may inadvertently cause you to slip into typing with poor posture such as hunching over the keyboard or slouching in the chair. Over time, this can contribute to neck, shoulder, and back pain.
  6. Eye Strain: Staring at a computer screen for long hours can strain the eye. Dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches start to impede your progress.

How Can Ergonomic Keyboards Minimize Wrist Pain

an image of an ergonomic mechanical keyboard

One of the best ways to mitigate these risks is to change your computer peripherals into something more ergonomic. Yes, we're talking about using ergonomic keyboards. 

These innovative keyboards are designed to promote a more natural hand and wrist position during typing.  which can help minimize wrist pain and reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries. Here are some ways ergonomic keyboards achieve this:

  1. Many ergonomic keyboards can be separated into two separate halves so you can position your hands shoulder-width apart. This typing position is more relaxed and natural thereby reducing strain on the wrists and shoulders.
  2. Ergonomic keyboards often feature a slight angle, or tenting, in the middle. The center of the keyboard is or can be raised up, forming a triangle. This forces the wrists and forearms to align in a more natural position. With the wrist and forearm aligned, pronation and ulnar deviation of the wrists are reduced. Admittedly, it takes some time so you can get used to this typing position.
  3. Some ergonomic keyboards can be adjusted to have a negative slope where the keys are positioned lower at the front and higher at the back. The downward angle of the hands reduces tension in the wrists.
  4. Many ergonomic keyboards have integrated palm rests or detachable wrist rests that provide support for the palms and wrists. This reduces pressure on the median nerve.
  5. Because they are mechanical keyboards, ergonomic keyboards are customizable, allowing users to tailor their keyboards according to their needs and preferences. They can change keycaps to more ergonomic sets or change switches so they will have a lower profile. They can program keys to make complex executions easier, reducing excessive movement of the fingers.

How to Optimize Your Setup for Ergonomics and Wrist Health

You can make some simple adjustments to your game or work setup so it will become more ergonomic. Check out these tips:

  1. Adjust your chair: Get a computer chair that supports your lower back. Adjust the seat height so your feet are flat on the floor. Position your knees parallel to the ground and slightly below hip level. This sitting posture reduces strain on your back and shoulders.
  2. Position your keyboard: Place your keyboard at elbow height or slightly below. A keyboard tray may be necessary to position the keyboard to the proper height. Keep your keyboard centered in front of you, and ensure your elbows are close to your body and bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Use an ergonomic keyboard: Use an ergonomic keyboard with features such as a split design, negative slope, and palm rests to promote a more neutral wrist position. 
  4. Adjust your mouse and mouse pad: Put your mouse close to your keyboard at the same height. Use a mouse pad with wrist support to maintain proper wrist alignment and reduce pressure on your wrist.
  5. Take regular breaks: Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. Use breaks to stretch your wrists and hands gently.
  6. Practice proper typing technique: Maintain a relaxed posture while typing. Avoid excessive force or tension in your hands and wrists by positioning your fingers on the right home keys. Keep your wrists in a neutral position. Use your whole arm to move the mouse rather than just your wrist. 
  7. Stay active: Regular physical activity strengthens your muscles and improves flexibility. Incorporate wrist and hand stretches into your daily exercise routine to reduce tension and improve circulation.
  8. Use ergonomic accessories: Explore ergonomic accessories such as adjustable monitor stands, document holders, and keyboard trays to further optimize your setup for comfort, health, and safety.


Wrist strain while typing can lead to exhaustion, stress, and injuries. It affects your productivity and efficiency. Fortunately, this can be remedied by using an ergonomic keyboard and exercising proper typing posture. Typing for long hours can be relaxing, enjoyable, and safe. 

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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