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Recently, I received Anker’s 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse to test drive.
The idea is that vertical computer mice like this one use an ergonomic design that feel more like a “handshake” position for the wrist and make your movements more smooth, meaning less strain on your joints.
Sounds great, but there’s a reason why we don’t all use them — their vertical, pyramid-like construction can look daunting for those of us raised on the traditional mouse and therefore know it as the mouse. We think relearning and adapting will be clumsy and unnecessarily confusing. If one way works alright, why go to all that trouble?
Or, at least, this is what I thought looking at the Anker 2.4G in its box. This would obviously be something I would have to consciously adapt to.
Except for the fact that I didn’t, and the integration of the mouse could not have been more seamless and instantaneous.
The mouse is intuitive: the position is natural (very much like a handshake) and you click the same way with the same fingers as a traditional mouse (left finger clicks for typical use, right finger clicks to bring up options). I have small hands with slightly longer fingers and while many users commented that it was not preferable for small hands, I only partially agree. It was seamless and easy to use, but bigger hands would have made it easier, yes; bigger hands would have made it easier to reach the thumb buttons, but they weren’t too much of a stress for me as is and I don’t use them frequently at all.
While the integration I anticipated to be difficult (physical) wasn’t, I was surprised by an unexpected mental block. The mouse will still work if you operate it by twitching your wrist, as it needs to sometimes, but I was doing that almost every time — instead, it’s better to use your forearm so that seamless alignment that takes stress off your wrist (and makes this mouse worth it) can actually happen.
Once I recognised this, I got used to resting my pinky against my desk, removed debris that was limiting my movements, and also got rid of my mouse pad so it could glide easier. I hadn’t thought to immediately remove it, but it was restricting my movements to a smaller space so I couldn’t make wide, smooth movements and whenever the mouse would hitch on the material I would defer to my wrist to compensate. I even made my chair higher to ensure that my arm and forearm were on a totally level, 90-degree angle with my desk. Now that I know I need to do this in order to get over that mental reflex, I’ve been much happier with it.
The key is to use this ergonomic mouse in the same wrist formation as you would make if you were about to skip a rock across water or throw a frisbee. Don’t compensate with your wrist, instead make wider movements with your arm. Ditch the mouse pad; the mouse will slide across your desk smoothly so your motions can remain unbroken and aligned.
Unfortunately for me, and perhaps for you, I still abuse my wrist throughout the day with all other forms of technology — I operate on a traditional Apple keyboard instead of something like this and already anticipate having a hooked thumb in my elderly years as a memento of how many texts I sent in my twenties. But, I am happy that the ergonomic mouse has helped take some of that strain off of me from one small area of life that is likewise bound to add up.
The Anker mouse is an inexpensive ergonomic model, so if you’re looking for a way to reduce strain this could be a good place to start — especially with how often you use your mouse during a workday. The only downside really is that as a wireless option it does run on batteries, it did require some mental overdrive on my part, and it won’t solve all of your wrist stress if you are going to be using it frequently and in tandem with other stressful practices.
But if you’re looking to cut down on stress to your wrist over time and save yourself some discomfort or pain, this is a great and inexpensive place to start, especially for those with normal- to large-sized hands.
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