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 (https://handshoemouse.com/publications/) and is largely third-party material.  

Does Your Mouse Properly Support Your Palm?

palmar support

When you use a computer mouse, the only way to prevent unnecessary tension is by using a mouse that provides proper palmar support. The way to realise this low tension, is with a mouse body that utilises a hand-supporting ball shape as a rest for the hand’s palm.

Palmar Support

The palm is ideal for supporting the hand, due to its strong membrane and the fatty tissue at the bases of our fingers. Naturally though, we need to be able to use the mouse buttons.When you use a conventional, or a vertical mouse, both your fingers and thumb operate the mouse.
This button clicking causes action and reaction forces in your fingers and thumb, introducing significant stresses to your hand muscles. This is a common source of forearm complaints. This theory is supported by anatomical observations and field research.

mouse reaction forces          reaction forces of vertical mouse          palmar support handshoe mouse

Prevent Unneccesary Strains

A mouse body with a fitting contour to support the palm of your hand and fingers can prevent these reaction forces.
The body of the mouse not only supports your hand, but also acts as a counter balance, absorbing the forces and preventing  unnecessary strain to your hand, wrist or fingers.

Recent Harvard Study Confirms HandShoe Mouse Principles

During our field study to develop the HandShoe Mouse, we noticed that a non supported arm resulted in complaints in neck and shoulders (Trapezius muscle). The advice to support the arm and let the hand rest on the body of the HandShoe Mouse quickly resulted in a reduction of complaints.
Our team of Erasmus University Medical Centre reported the field study in the paper “Result of the use of a hand supporting computer mouse by patients with neck and shoulder complaints” (2006).
These results are confirmed in the paper by Prof. Han Ming Chen “The effect on forearm and shoulder muscle activity in using different slanted computer mice” (2007).

Through the years we have been addressing the negative effects of the use of for example keyboard trays. This in view of the excessive muscle loads incurred due to forearm and hand not being supported.

Effects of Forearm and Palm Support

Therefore we are pleased that the recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health “Effects of forearm and palm supports on the upper extremity during computer mouse use” (2013) confirms these earlier studies.

In line with the above,Arm op Bureau 1-met vink web it is interesting to know that the use of a slanted mouse like the HandShoe Mouse prevents the possible negative effect of support of a forearm on a hard surface like a desktop. Of course a good alternative to provide the necessary support are chairs with armrests.

Desktops with sufficient space provide the significant advantage that one is free to move.

This contrary to arrangements which inhibit free movement and force a person in a rigid position without enough space to work e.g. put down papers etc.

In line with the above mentioned publications forearm and hand support are a prerequisite for a comfortable working position and to prevent unnecessary loads in Trapezius and deep neck muscles.