Wrist rests are considered by many, but we often wonder if they are really worth the investment. The reality is, working from home involves long hours of typing and keyboard use, which results in a lot of strain and compression being put on our wrists.
You need a wrist rest if you spend long hours typing while resting your wrist on a flat desk. A wrist rest can help you take away some of the pressure and strain that is put on your wrists during prolonged keyboard use. It can help you reduce the possibility of a wrist injury.
Now, a wrist rest is not a magic solution to prevent wrist injuries, these simply aid in the prevention process. In order for you to truly see results with a wrist rest, and completely abolish wrist injuries that come from prolonged keyboard use, there are a few things to keep in mind. Continue reading below as I explain the right way to use a wrist rest to avoid injury.
Will a Wrist Rest Prevent Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel is one of the most common conditions that come with an injured wrist caused by a prolonged exposure to strain and pressure. This is caused by compression of the median nerve and can be very bothersome and painful, causing numbness and a tingling sensation.
Lack of wrist support results in the following:
- Your wrist carrying all of your upper body pressure as you lean forward
- Constantly resting your wrist on your desk which is considered a flat and hard surface
- Wrists that are constantly bent up in order to better reach the keyboard
- Overall bad upper body posture as no forearm or wrist balance is practiced
The main reason many develop a condition like carpal tunnel after years of keyboard use is because they are heavily resting all of the weight from their upper body on their wrists.
When we type we usually lean forward and as our hands need to be loose in order to type, we put all the pressure necessary to lean forward on our wrists, causing compression of these nerves and reduced blood flow.
Having a wrist rest will provide cushion and elevation for your wrists, taking away some of the strain from your wrist and providing a softer surface for them to rest, while also leveling your hands to the keyboard which puts an end to bent wrists.
But, even if your wrist rest provides some support and cushion, it is still an absolute mistake to try to support all of your upper body weight on your wrist rest.
Why You Should Not Rest Your Wrist Directly on the Wrist Rest
So, we talked about how wrist injury comes from prolonged pressure to your wrists due to years of upper body support, and how a wrist rest can help take away some of this pressure– but how does it really work and how do you use one properly?
A wrist rest only helps if you avoid actually resting your wrists, which have a variety of delicate nerves, on it, and rest your palms instead.
The main reason for resting using your palms instead of your wrists are:
- Your wrists have no layer of protection over your carpal tunnel pathway.
- There is no bone structure to provide support for these tendons.
- Your palms are surrounded by strong muscles and bones that help protect these delicate tissues.
This is why it is important to use your palms for body support when typing, rather than your actual wrists. While typing your hands should not bend, they should remain as straight as possible to avoid compression of your wrist muscles.
Unfortunately, we tend to bend our wrists while typing as we feel more comfortable resting them on the desk which results in a very low position for our hands to reach the keyboard.
Using a wrist rest under your palms will help elevate your hands accordingly while providing enough support, and will help keep your wrist remain floating rather than lying flat on your desk.
Wrist Rest for Better Posture
Ideally, you want to keep your wrists floating and instead use your palms for support.
This results in no wrist strain and in overall good posture.
Sadly, we all know this is not easy and we tend to forget about it. This is why a wrist rest can be a good addition, but if you think you have good posture and are able to keep your wrist floating, then you might not see that big of a need for one.
How Keeping Your Wrist Floating Can Help with Your Overall Posture
Even though we might think that keeping our wrists up in the air with no rest can result in more pain and back problems, this can actually help with our overall posture and improve a variety of body aches associated with long hours of computer use.
This is because the neck and back strain that comes with computer use, is highly correlated with our bad typing habits and posture.
Keeping your wrists elevated to prevent injuries will also work as a reminder to keep your back straight, and helps manage our tendency to excessively lean on our desks which ends up curving our spine and neck unnaturally which only causes further body problems.
The human body is a complex mechanical machine, so even something as simple as not holding our wrists properly can throw off the rest of the angles in the body, too, leading to neck, back, shoulder, and other areas to have issues in a sort of “snowball effect.”
The Damage of Looking Down at Your Keyboard
Research tells us that although our necks are perfectly capable of supporting our heads, when we lean forward or tilt it down, our head’s weight increases significantly putting more strain on our necks.
This is something normal when done as necessary, but tends to cause problems in the long run when done for long periods of time, which is what most remote workers tend to do.
Elevated wrists will help you make sure you maintain a good posture and a straight line from your wrists to your hands when typing, preventing compression of the carpal tunnel pathway and overall neck strain.
Proper Keyboard Use to Avoid Wrist Injuries
Make sure to keep a straight line always between your wrist and hands, this includes not tilting your keyboard towards you. Many keyboards come with small legs attach to the back of them in order to make it easier for users to reach the back keys, but users are better off not using these.
This keyboard tilt results in more nerve compression of your wrists as the hands end up being tilted upward to reach the keys in the back. When our wrists are bent, we are not only flexing these nerves, but are also more likely to rest them directly on the desk or wrist rest, putting extra pressure on them.
When it comes to your keyboard you are better off keeping it flat, and contrary to what we are used to doing, you might actually want to tilt it away from you helping to prevent that upward flexed on your wrists.
Wrist rests work well if used for your palms instead of your wrists. When used directly on your wrists it can in fact increase your chances of a wrist injury. Resting your palms instead will result in appropriate blood flow for your wrists and no nerve compression.
Follow these simple tips and you should be able to protect the front of your wrists from injury, which has very little protection by nature, unlike your palms which are surrounded by strong bones and muscles.
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More