How important can keyboard placement be?
How much strain can you get from the position of the keyboard you ask? Plenty is the answer. You would be surprised how many people sit with the keyboard to one side so they are permanently twisting their spine and reaching across their body.
The first step is to make sure the keyboard is straight in front you to eliminate any twisting – but where exactly is straight in front of you, at the edge of desk, or back near the monitor? And does it even matter where you put your keyboard?
Well I guess the answer to the last question depends very much on how long you use your keyboard for each day. The longer you use your keyboard the more important it is to position the keyboard so you put the least amount of strain on your arms.
Holding awkward postures for anything but the briefest length of time is known to contribute towards neck pain, and shoulder and wrist pain. It may not cause problems after a week or even a month but eventually the strain will tell.
The best position is to have the keyboard directly in front of you with enough space between the keyboard and the edge of the desk to allow the forearms to rest on the desk. A hand’s breadth or 15 cm is a general rule.
If you position the keyboard right at the edge of the desk this can cause strain on the wrists. – see diagram below. By moving the keyboard slightly forward away from the edge of the desk the position of the elbow and wrist joints are less severe.
On the other hand if you push your keyboard too far forward, perhaps because you have files in front of the keyboard while you type than you will be reaching across the desk and putting considerable strain on your neck and shoulders. You need sort out a better arrangement for your documents – perhaps use a document holder
So you bring the keyboard in front of you, then position it away from the edge of the desk but not enough to cause you to reach. And lastly centre the keyboard so the ‘letter B is level with your belly button’. This is because the text keys are usually on the left hand side with the numerical pad on the right. If you sit the keyboard in the middle of you, you will end up working with your right wrist bent.
To use a keyboard comfortably requires more than just good keyboard placement. You also need to
• sit at the right height,
• make good use of the back rest
• position your documents correctly, and
• use good keying techniques.