Ergonomic keyboards are keyboards designed for professionals, students, and anyone else who is required to touch type repetitively and for long amounts of time
An ergonomic keyboard has specific design features to ensure a pleasant and pain-free keyboarding experience, even if you touch type for the greater part of your eight-hour long work day.
Ergonomic Keyboards: A Definition
To understand what an ergonomic keyboard is, you must first understand why they were created in the first place.
Normal keyboards are not what you call optimal when it comes to how they’re designed. They often value form over function, or are just plain painful to use, hear, and work on.
Common keyboards, usually older versions, are not ideal for repetitive keyboarding because they haven’t been designed with user comfort in mind. They force you to place your wrists at uncomfortable flat positions and over time they damage or inflame your tendons, often resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome (among other health issues).
On the other hand, an ergonomic keyboard has been designed for optimum user comfort and performance. It keeps your wrists and hands at a position that feels more natural for your wrists, making it easy to touch type for hours on end without any issue.
An ergonomically designed keyboard offers the support you need to touch type without putting your hands’ health at risk.
Ergonomic Keyboards Recommended by Health Professionals
Ergonomic keyboards are designed for minimizing your risk for repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. As a result, by using such a keyboard you can touch type for more hours without worrying about wrist or finger inflammation. Of course, applying the whole spectrum of ergonomics at the office is what will ensure you stave off any office-related injuries. An ergonomic keyboard is not a cure-all.
Health professionals recommend the use of ergonomic keyboards in the workplace as they can help the user touch type faster and avoid muscle and tendon strain.
How are ergonomic keyboards designed?
There’s no standard layout for an ergonomic keyboard. However, you can probably identify a typical ergonomic keyboard by its curvy, modern, and well-designed structure.
A preferred layout is the split-keyboard ergonomic keyboard, in which the keys are separated into two distinct areas, one for the left and one for the right hand.
However, the majority of QWERTY keyboards nowadays are also ergonomic in the sense that they feature things like:
1) A palm rest that’s often slightly elevated and with a soft cushion to offer comfort to your wrists and palms.
2) A slanted position that feels more natural for your wrists. This is the optimal wrist position to avoid repetitive stress injury. Ergonomic keyboards give you the support you need to lay your wrists horizontally.
3) Contours that have the advantage of reducing the amount of effort it takes to strike a key, and also enabling you to place your arm and wrists in a position that feels more natural to you. In other words, ergonomic keyboards are shaped based on the natural contour of your hand (rather than forcing your hands and wrists to assume an uncomfortable position that strains your muscles and ligaments).
Even if you don’t use an ergonomic keyboard or cannot afford one you can use ergonomic accessories like a palm support rest or a stand-alone numeric keyboard to make touch typing more comfortable.