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Ergonomic Gear For A Better Life

Keep Your Chin Up

Like Fellowes, Kensington offers a huge range of ergonomic devices, including trays, wrist pads, seat rests, and the company’s SmartFit System. SmartFit essentially uses your hand size to ballpark your overall body proportions. Find the color code that matches your hand size, then use it to build whatever ergonomic accessory you’ve purchased. For instance, look at the Spin 2. Using the SmartFit System, you can ballpark the necessary height needed for the monitor elevation. The Spin 2 is a sturdy unit, and its Lazy Susan-like design assembles in seconds, which I suppose is the whole point when addressing a mainstream office audience. It almost seems too mundane to be an ergonomic accessory, but perhaps the most sublime things are also the simplest.

The Kensington Column Mount Extended Monitor Arm ($170) is more up my alley. The arm uses a C-clamp to grip your desk, then you use the color-coded system to select the arm’s position on the column. For those who never got the memo about putting the top of the screen at eye height, it’s a handy (so to speak) concept. The arm itself is quite solid, but you need a solid desk to hold it steady. Otherwise you get vibrations from things such as the washing machine or passing traffic causing the monitor to bounce up and down, and that can’t be ergonomically good.

It’s funny. I’ve been writing this article with very few hours off for nearly three days, and for the first time in years, I feel an obvious discomfort in my wrists. After weeks of using the Logitech K350, it took this level of nearly non-stop work to revive my old carpal tunnel problems. Perhaps there’s an element of suggestibility involved here, a bit of the writer’s Jedi mind trick. (“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. You will get an RSI if you keep working like this.”) But simply writing this article has reaffirmed for me how necessary these products are and how important it is to make sure you have exactly the right products for your specific needs.

“There isn’t a single problem when it comes to ergonomics. Everybody is a little different,” Kinesis’ Hargreaves said. “And once you get an injury, you’re more susceptible to it in the future. I got carpal tunnel syndrome in 1990 while demolishing a deck, and I’ve been sensitive to computer strain for that same thing ever since. So you can’t really come up with a common solution for a common problem.”

Go to the stores. Read the reviews. Try things out. Ergonomics is serious business, and it’s not like most other PC-related purchases. This isn’t about gaining a competitive edge or being able to load the next operating system. This is about your health, your freedom from pain, and your physical ability to keep doing the things you want.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need an ice pack.

  • Luscious
    I'm quite surprised your focus is on ergonomics yet you haven't mentioned anything at all about trackballs. I've been using a Logitech Track Man Wheel for close to 4 years paired with my notebook. They have many advantages over mice, not the least being ergonomically superior.
    Reply
  • ryanegeiger
    I agree... what about trackballs?
    Reply
  • Supertrek32
    I've been using the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for a few years now and must say that I love it. Very comfortable. I also reprogrammed the back/forward buttons to control media player (via Microsoft's intellitype software), which is incredibly hand for someone like me who has a large music collection and might not be in the mood for a certain genre one day.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    ryanegeigerI agree... what about trackballs?trackballs are perfect for work only situations esp with limited desk space.
    Reply
  • ddrcoder
    I've used a Kinesis for years (I'm typing this with one right now), and I must say they're the best keyboards ever made. I've found that they relieved stress in my hands/wrists. I recommended them to a friend who couldn't touch type and as he got used to the keyboard, he quickly learned. He can now type at 60WPM, I can type at 100WPM.

    -Tom
    Reply
  • Trackballs, why have they been blackballed? Everyone I loan my spare, I have three new ones just in case they stop selling them, Logitech mouse man marble to they immediately buy one for themselves.
    My friend has CTS and cannot use a regular mouse with one hand because of the strain, trackball fixed him right up. Not only are they friendlier on the wrist the require vastly less desk space, they are easier to control and for precision work nothing beats a trackball.

    My Gaming (counterstrike: source, UT2004, UT3, half life, team fortress, day of defeat,etc) buddies all have crazy expensive uber dpi programmable gaming mice that have lasers, and my 20$ trackball whips 'em every time. Why? no wasted movement, my arm is completely stationary when mousing, my fingers can keep the ball fluid and moving in one direction without having to lift it up, move it ove,r set it down, and continue mousing, one quick flick of the finger and the ball goes spinning in the desired direction, all while my arm is relaxed and stationary.

    They are in fact perfect in play situations too.
    How about some trackball love?
    Reply
  • coconutboy
    I like these kinds of articles. Currently I own a logitech MX Revolution, it's my ~5th logi mouse (I also own a cordless logitech trackball), but really all these have just been because I couldn't find anything better including the gazillion specialized ergo mice on the market. I just wish someone would make an upright/joystick-like mouse that also includes-

    a trackball
    scroll wheel or similar device
    4 buttons minimum (5+ preferred) that users can define as forward/back/whatever.

    I've tried many mice including the 3M joystick, Zero Tension Mouse and Evoluent upright. Those were somewhat better in terms of comfort but sacrificed buttons/functionality. As a result my last 4 or so mice have all been Logitech with my current being the MX Revolution but that's because of the extra buttons and its awesome scroll wheel, NOT the comfort which is just average.

    William Van WinkleI was able to try out Logitech’s MK605 notebook kit ($100)... The keyboard and mouse are okay, and they are decently compact for travel, but I wish the stand were available separately.
    The stand can be purchased individually for $30. Linkage-

    http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/notebook_products/stands/devices/5494&cl=us,en
    Reply
  • williamvw
    The stand can be purchased individually for $30. Linkage-http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/ 4&cl=us,en
    Oh, bonus! Thanks for pointing that out, coconutboy. Again -- highly recommended.
    Reply
  • tapeglue
    Less known help for wrist pain can be a computer armrest. I have been using one called Restman 1 for a few months now and it indeed makes me forget about my wrist problem. I got it from http://restmans.myshopify.com/products/restman-1.
    Reply
  • trifler
    I find that mice with higher dpi allow me to turn up the speed without losing any of the control. This greatly reduces the amount of necessary wrist movement to use a mouse. Therefore, I actually choose the Logitech G500 (5700dpi) for ergonomic reasons rather than for gaming reasons.
    Reply