How to Choose a Good Ergonomic Mouse.

Did you know that 1 in 6 workers is suffering from some form of RSI or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? These are conditions that, in the ergonomic industry, are widely associated with overuse of a poorly designed computer mouse. This can lead to people spending weeks or even months out of work and, in worst case scenarios, can require operations to resolve.

There is an easier alternative to developing these problems though – use a good ergonomic mouse. This begs the question, however, of how one identifies a ‘good’ ergonomic mouse. To answer that question, we first need to look at a regular mouse and the design problems that cause mouse pain to begin with.

Regular computer mice are designed in such a way as to make you grip them. (see image below) While this may seem normal, it is these very gripping and pinching actions that lead to RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome developing. This is because the actions are being done all day, often 5 or 6 days a week, with the muscles getting little or no rest. On top of this, we often leave see people hovering over the mouse switches on conventional mice, adding to the muscle tension and cramped nature of the hand posture.
Another common issue with regular mice is the angle of the hand during the use of a computer mouse. We have two main bones in our forearm, Ulna and Radius, with a membrane connecting the two. To help prevent mouse pain, it is important that the blood flow through this membrane is as unobstructed as possible, and the angle of the hand on the mouse is key to this. To optimise the blood flow, the hand needs to be in the “natural position”. If the hand is twisted to far in one direction or another, the blood flow becomes restricted and problems can ensue.

The last problem worth mentioning is the development of rough/irritated patches of skin around the wrist area. These often develop due to the rubbing of the wrist against the desk during mouse use. Because the skin there is quite thin, with the bone quite close to the surface, it is an easy area of the body to irritate. While this is sometimes considered a minor issue compared to the big problems like RSI and Carpal Tunnel, it is easily preventable.

If the above causes mouse pain, then an ideal ergonomic mouse would do the following:

  1. Prevent any gripping and pinching – you shouldn’t have to/be able to hold on to the mouse to move it.
  2. The hand should rest on the mouse in a neutral position – all research concludes the hand should sit at an angle of between 25 and 30 degrees.
  3. The hand and arm should be supported in places where the body and tissue are biologically designed to support the weight – the membrane of the palm and the fatty tissue on the underside of the forearm are good for this.

The HandShoe Mouse is an example of the only ergonomic mouse currently on the market that was designed off the back of peer reviewed university research. The above factors, and many more, were all considered during the design of this mouse. The resulting design, when tested in the tax offices in The Netherlands was that every member of staff that was out of work with mouse complaints were able to come back into work again while working with the mouse.

Although it can be time consuming to find, there is a great deal of research supporting very specific ergonomic mouse designs. Much of this research can be found on our publications page ( and is largely third-party material.  

The Effect of a Computer Mouse Supporting the Hand

hand support

The research which resulted in the HandShoe Mouse design was initiated at Erasmus University MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Specific complaints were noted with students who used conventional or so-called ergonomic mice. Next to discomfort in hands, arms and shoulders excessive tension in various neck muscles resulted in a restrictive range of motion.

EMG measurements
EMG comparison HandShoe – Conventional Mouse

EMG data from fundamental research at Erasmus University MC showed significant levels of Extensor Muscle activity without moments of rest, with a regular mouse. Forced pronation of the hand and forearm in combination with fingers hovering over the buttons were identified as a source of high EMG signals.
This was contrary to the EMG values when a hand supporting object was used:

A regular mouse is generally too small for the hand resulting in a grip like action of thumb and fingers and thus excessive muscle loads i.e. high EMG values.With a fitting hand supporting mouse there is no need to grip and pinch.

A supporting contour allowed fingers to rest as a stabilized arch in stead of hover (K.J. van Zwieten et al., 2011).

The resulting EMG values showed moments of rest.ergonomic prototype This research proved over exertion of muscles with a “non hand supporting mouse”.

It should be noted that unnecessary and/or excessive muscle loads (muscle tonus) prove to have negative effects on the cellular structures of the human body and thus muscles and nerves, ref. Cinderella Effect (B. Visser and J.H. Van Dieën, 2006).

In general the objective should be to realize a low ratio of EMG value and Minimal Voluntary Contraction (MVC).
As prototype an anatomically derived hand supporting computer mouse was extensively field tested over a period of 1 year (P.C. Helder et al., 2006).

To substantiate the positive results realized by the introduction of a hand supporting computer mouse, an evaluation was performed in cooperation with Maastricht University MC. This entailed a comparison of 8 ergonomic computer mice and a regular mouse with the prototype hand supporting mouse.

Substantiation of findings is corroborated by publications e.g., Hand and Forearm Angle (Han-Ming Chen et al., 2007), Interosseous Membrane (K.J. van Zwieten et al., 2010).