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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Create Mousing Space

© Erik Peper PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by Erik Peper PhD. View all columns in series
Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay healthier while working.

Do you find yourself reaching out to use your mouse, which is shunted to the side of your wide keyboard? Are you developing mouse shoulder or mouse arm because of the increased muscle tension from arm abduction as you reach for your mouse? Bring the mouse closer and make the keyboarding tasks more comfortable when you CREATE MOUSING SPACE.


If you are not using the number pad as the major part of your data entry, and you have the budget to do so, replace your keyboard with one that is narrower or one that is split with the 10-key pad imbedded in the keyboard. A narrower keyboard will help you maintain your health, especially if you are petite or small.

  1. The split feature helps reduce wrist (carpal tunnel) irritation by allowing straight (neutral) wrists when typing.
  2. The narrow keyboards reduce unnecessary arm, shoulder, and neck tension by allowing placement of the pointing device in the center or closer to your side.

Test ride and substitute narrow or split keyboards without attached number pads for normal or ergonomic wide keyboards. (Research studies* at SFSU have shown that the wider, ergonomic keyboards contribute significantly to arm and shoulder tension when mousing.) Check out the following:

  • TypeMatrix Comprehensive ergonomic design with imbedded keypad
  • Goldtouch Adjustable keyboard
  • MAXIM adjustable ergonomic keyboard
  • Ergomagic keyboard
  • KBPC E Keyboard

If your budget prohibits purchase of a new keyboard, check out EBay auctions for used or wholesale keyboards. Or, adjust your workstation keyboard space:

  • Create a keyboard tray by clamping a plywood board on the shallow middle drawer of your desk. Make sure that it that is wide enough for both the keyboard and the mouse.
  • Clamp an extension (e.g., clip board) onto your keyboard tray if it is too narrow for mouse use.
  • Use a mouse bridge over the 10-key pad if you infrequently use the 10- key pad.

Regardless of ergonomics, take your micro-, meso- and macro-movement breaks. Remember, remaining healthy while working at the computer includes work style and work attitude.

* Harvey; R. & Peper, E. (1997). Surface electromyography and mouse position use. Ergonomics. 40 (8), 781-789.

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About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco State University. He is President of the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2005) and past President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.......more
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Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.