How to use a split keyboard?

Are you looking to use a split keyboard to reduce wrist and hand pain

Sometimes split keyboards are recommended if you have developed wrist and forearm pain and still need to do a lot of keying for their work. Ideally you would try to reduce the problem by checking things like

  • keyboard placement
  • keying techniques or
  • reducing the hours spent keying

However, sometimes this is not possible and you may be have been recommended to try a split keyboard

Are there any pitfalls to split keyboards

Using a split keyboard is not quite so straightforward as plonking it on your desk. Some of the difficulties that people have with split keyboards are that they take at least 3 weeks to get used to and individuals often give up part way through because they find

  • they are slower at working,
  • they make more mistakes and most importantly
  • they think its not having an affect on their symptoms.

Be prepared and be patient

The first two are always going to happen when you start to learn something new. And as for not having an affect on their symptoms well this is not necessarily the case. The reason is, that arm pain with keying and computer use can develop over many, many months and even years so its reasonable to expect that it can take between 6-12 weeks to resolve when you change your work patterns. If you give up after a week or two than you will never know if it might have helped.

Unfortunately we expect instant miracles and improvement which means that we don’t persist with the very actions that are likely to resolve the problem. And this isn’t just with split keyboards, it’s with changing our mouse techniques, using shortcut keys or working with a document holder.

How to get the most out of a split keyboard

So if you have been given a split keyboard you will need patience and persistence if you want to see the full benefit of using it. Secondly you need to know how to set it up to provide the most comfort. The split keyboard can offer adjustment in three positions

  • Height
  • Slope
  • Opening angle

Recent research show that the most comfortable position for keying is when
HEIGHT – the keyboard should be set to its lowest height.

SLOPE - should be angled slightly downward i.e. tilting down towards the finger tips, not up as many people do with a standard keyboard.

OPENING ANGLE - should be approximately 15. (this is the gap between the two sides of the keyboard)

So if you want to see how much benefit you can get from a split keyboard you need to set it up correctly and be very patient.