Wrist rests and RSI

Question: I am an administrator and a new sufferer of RSI.  My Occupational Health Nurse has advised me against using a wrist rest as she says there is no proven benefit.  Does anyone have advise to the contrary?

Answer 1: Not necessarily to the contrary, but my read on the wrist rest issue is:  The theory on the wrist rest is that it can assist in keeping the wrists elevated for those who have lazy wrists and rest them on the computer table which has a hard edge and results in a wrist bent backwards (dorsiflexion/hyper-extension).  The bad side is if the computer table is too high, then it is just another obstacle to climb over to get to the keyboard. Also, the wristrest should be used while resting and not during active keyboard use, however it should still be better than resting on the table top.

For those that are trained typists and don’t sag their wrists, then a wrist rest may not be that important. The main concern with wrist rest use is that typists will rest their wrists on it all the time and result in additional wrist movement, versus “floating” over the keys and moving the whole arm while reaching for the keys during typing.  There are proponents for both resting and floating the arms while typing. The jury is still out on who might be right. Trying a little of both might be the best response, assuming that the keyboard height is close to where it should be (seated elbow height).

Answer 2: As a lay opinion, I agree with your nurse: no proven benefit, and can make things worse if you put a lot of weight on it, by compressing the nerves and blood vessel in the wrist. But don’t rest your wrists on the edge of the desk either: hold them up. As well as avoiding the compression, this also means you can move them more freely.

Answer 3: I used to lift my wrists up in the traditional typing position, i.e. a bit like playing the piano. But when I made the connection between my wrists hurting and shoulder & neck tension, I found that one of the ways I can decrease shoulder tension is to use a wrist rest while typing, because then I’m no longer holding the weight of my own arms constantly. But there may be disadvantages. Does anyone else use a wrist rest specifically for this reason?

Besides, you can still reduce some unnecessary shoulder tension by other means such as avoiding slouching back or hunching over the keyboard.I find it best to sometimes type using the wrist rest and sometimes type holding my wrists in the air, because any kind of variety seems to help. E.g. when I type text I usually use the wrist rest, because for touch-typing you only really move your fingers and your arms need to stay still. For pressing other keys I lift off the rest and move freely.

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