Computer mouse selection and use

Health and safety | July 2019

hand using computer mouse on blue backgroundCreate a more comfortable workstation with this ergonomics advice

The correct computer mouse selection – the style of device and position you have it in – is essential in creating a comfortable workstation.

But with so many different types of mice available, how do you choose the one that’s right for you? And where should it be positioned? Our Head of Ergonomics, Laura Milnes, provides useful insights into what you should be looking for with your computer mouse selection.


Mouse shape and size

Choose a mouse that fits your hand; it should be the right shape and size to support the natural curve of your hand, and allow a neutral wrist position. The mouse should have buttons that neither cramp the fingers nor spread them out too far apart.

Some popular choices include:

standard computer mouseStandard

Typically symmetrical, allowing use with left and/or right hand; useful for people who are ambidextrous or who have a fluctuating musculoskeletal disorder affecting the upper limb(s)/hand(s), allowing them to alter between right/left-handed use depending on their comfort levels.

trackball computer mouseTrackball

Allows you to navigate your computer with your fingertips or thumb (depending on the model), allowing your arm to remain supported, reducing wrist movement. A good option for people with shoulder or elbow issues or who find gripping a standard/vertical mouse uncomfortable.

vertical computer mouseVertical

Encourages the hand into a neutral ‘handshake’ position. Movement is transferred to the more powerful shoulder muscles. Ideal computer mouse selection for people with hand/wrist issues. Most vertical mice come in right or left-handed versions, but some are symmetrical.

roller/trackpad computer mouseRoller/trackpad

Operated using your fingertips, by either rolling a bar or scrolling your fingers on a touchpad. The device sits in front of the keyboard so eliminates the need to reach for the mouse, while buttons remain close to hand. Good for people with neck, shoulder and elbow issues.

joystick computer mouseJoystick

Good for people with finger issues as the mouse click is operated using the thumb. Encourages the hand into a neutral ‘handshake’ position.

 


Computer mouse selection – getting the position right

Your mouse should be positioned within easy reach. Make sure your wrist is straight while you are using it and that it is close enough to you so that you don’t need to stretch to reach it. This will be easier if you sit upright and close to your desk.

illustration showing computer mouse selection and use

  1. Use the mouse in line with the body – not at an angle.
  2. Make sure your forearms are at a comfortable angle (usually 90 degrees) to your upper arms.
  3. Use a compact keyboard if your arm is angled away from your body (separate number pads are available if you also regularly use the number pad).

Mouse use

Try to hold your mouse lightly, don’t grip it!

Adjust the mouse properties to suit you – go to the control panel in the start menu and select ‘mouse’. From there you can adjust the speed and sensitivity of the mouse pointer.


Final tips

Don’t keep your hand on the mouse when not using it; change your arm posture to increase blood flow. And avoid contact stress on the wrist; pivot your arm at the elbow until your hand is gently resting on the mouse, don’t lean heavily on the desk as this can reduce blood flow, compress the nerves and increase the risk of discomfort. Consider using a gliding wrist support that moves with the mouse.

Follow the above tips to get computer mouse selection right – or contact our ergonomics team for expert support.

Speech bubbleWe can help you create more comfortable workstations

Contact our ergonomics consultants for expert help

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