If you have a desk job that requires you to type for long hours, you may have experienced some discomfort on your wrists or your shoulders, or both.
This is caused by repetitive straining of the muscles and joints on your hands, arms, and shoulders because of how your arms are positioned during typing.
Aside from taking breaks during work hours to prevent exacerbating your condition, you also need to consider using a keyboard that is ergonomic, promoting proper typing posture.
Of the two kinds of keyboards, mechanical and membrane, mechanical keyboards are considered ergonomic. But are mechanical keyboards really ergonomic?
Table of Contents
- Are Mechanical Keyboards Better for Ergonomics?
- Are Mechanical Keyboards Better for Carpal Tunnel?
- Types of Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards
- Are Mechanical Keyboards Full Keyboards?
- Mechanical vs. Membrane Keyboards
Are Mechanical Keyboards Better for Ergonomics?
Yes, mechanical keyboards are considered better for ergonomics because their keys are more sensitive compared to membrane keyboards.
Activating keys on mechanical keyboards is easier on the joints of the fingers as users do not push as hard compared to using membrane keyboards.
The keys of mechanical keyboards have individual switches which allow them to respond faster. The keys are also concave, which allows your fingers to comfortably rest and make lesser mistakes while typing.
Mechanical keyboard keys are properly spaced out, which prevents your fingers from doing awkward positions when you try to activate multiple keys at once.
Most of them also come with palm rests that prevent hyperextending of the wrist joint.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Better for Carpal Tunnel?
Yes, there are several reasons why mechanical keyboards are better for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and why more people should use them.
These reasons include:
Keys Are Easy to Press
Mechanical keyboards have keys that are concave in shape so that your fingers can feel each key properly. These keys also have individual switches that are easy to activate, so you don’t have to press too hard to ensure that each keystroke is logged.
Less Wrist Travel
Ergonomic mechanical keyboards are not your usual rectangular keyboards.
Most of them have a wavy shape, which allows the fingers to reach every key without the need for the wrist to move too often.
The ergonomic design also ensures the fingers are not stretching or twisting just to activate keys.
Some ergonomic mechanical keyboards are dedicated keys or are programmable so that certain keys can be activated for specific commands or programs. No need to press two or three keys at the same time.
Another feature that is common in ergonomic mechanical keyboards is a wrist pad.
Some of these wrist pads are fixed onto the keyboard, while others are detachable. Some have soft padding to enhance wrist comfort.
The purpose of the wrist pad is to have a place for your wrists to rest on and keep them in a neutral position, with no bending or hyperextending when typing. The wrist pad ensures that the fingers are still able to hit the keys without straining.
Types of Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards
Split mechanical keyboards are easy to identify because the keys are literally split in the middle. The split allows the arm and hands to remain in a neutral position when typing so that you do not strain the joints in your wrists or fingers when you type.
There are two kinds of split keyboards:
1. Full split mechanical keyboard
There are two independent keyboards, one for each of your hands. The KINESIS GAMING Freestyle Edge RGB Split Mechanical Keyboard is an example of a full split keyboard.
The advantage of using this kind of mechanical keyboard is that you have the option to move the right keyboard out of the way.
Gamers use their left hand to control the game using keyboard keys, so they would appreciate the versatility of this split keyboard. The right module can be moved out of the way to make more room for the mouse.
Another thing that sets this keyboard apart from other split keyboards is that the numeric keys are placed on the far left-hand side of the left module.
2. Fixed split mechanical keyboard
If you are not a fan of a keyboard that is not attached to each other, but values ergonomics, a fixed split keyboard like the Perixx Periboard-512 Ergonomic Split Keyboard could suit your needs.
The Perixx split keyboard features all the keys found on a traditional mechanical keyboard. The difference is that the keys are in a slanting position to make typing comfortable.
In some fixed split keyboards, the enter, shift, control, and backspace keys are placed in the middle of the keyboard. They can be activated with the thumbs, the same as the space bar.
Angled Mechanical Keyboard
Angled mechanical keyboards come in full split and fixed split designs. What sets them apart is that that middle portion is slightly tented. This dome shape keeps your wrist at a relaxed angle to make typing comfortable.
If you can not decide whether to go full or fixed split, you may want to consider getting the Cloud Nine C989M Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard.
It is a full split mechanical keyboard, but you can attach the two modules together to get the fixed split experience.
This ergonomic mechanical keyboard from Cloud Nine is angled at seven degrees in the middle to keep your palm supported and resting at all times.
It also has a knob, the “Smart Control Wheel,” at the lower middle portion that can be used to control volume, brightness, scroll or even navigate applications.
Another mechanical keyboard to consider is a contoured keyboard. These keyboards, like the Kinesis Advantage2 Quiet LF Ergonomic Keyboard, are quirky looking as they do not follow the traditional design of a full keyboard.
Contoured keyboards are designed to position your arms and hands shoulder-width apart.
The keys are placed in wells that are positioned to make it easy for the fingers to navigate them while the palms rest on the palm pads. The control keys are placed in the middle, easily accessible by the thumbs.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Full Keyboards?
Not all mechanical keyboards are full keyboards. Some of these mechanical keyboards, like the RK ROYAL KLUDGE RK61 Wired 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, lack the dedicated number keys that are often placed on the right-hand side of the keyboard.
Mechanical vs. Membrane Keyboards
Most of the keyboards that come pre-packaged when you purchase a new PC are membrane type, similar to the ones used on laptops. The reason for this is membrane keyboards are cheaper compared to mechanical ones.
However, many people switch to mechanical keyboards for their PC or connect a mechanical keyboard when they are using their laptop because the experience is a huge contrast.
Some advantages of mechanical keyboards include:
It has better key rollover. This means that when you type fast or press keys simultaneously, each keystroke is identified and logged. There is no lag even when you are typing ridiculously fast. That is often the complaint with membrane keyboards.
It allows better feedback. Mechanical keyboards have spring-loaded switches under the key caps.
What it means is that when you press a key, you feel that you have pressed it because it bounces back up after you press it. Unlike membrane keys that feel like mush because of the rubber underneath the keys.
Mechanical keyboards also give users an audio feedback, the clicking sound, when a key is pressed. For people who find the clicking sound a bit annoying, the good news is there are silent mechanical keyboards available, like the Redragon K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.
It has a longer lifespan. One of the arguments against mechanical keyboards is their higher price point. However, mechanical keyboards have a longer lifespan compared to membrane keyboards.
Mechanical keyboards last about thirty to seventy million key presses, while membrane keyboards only last about five million presses.
These key-presses allow mechanical keyboards to last for years, which means you do not have to buy a new one every few months. Also, because of the switches under the keys, keys getting stuck are not a usual problem for mechanical keyboards.
It is stable. Mechanical keyboards are also heavier compared to membrane keyboards. This weight prevents mechanical keyboards from sliding out of place when you type, even if you do not place a mat underneath it.
Mechanical keyboards are designed to prevent finger and wrist strain when typing, but not all can be considered as truly ergonomic. Ergonomic mechanical keyboards come in different designs, but with a common goal of helping users maintain a proper typing position.
Keys of ergonomic mechanical keyboards are slanted or, in some cases, there are two separate modules so that you are able to position them in a way that is most comfortable for you.
Some keyboards feature a domed middle, which helps keep the hands in their natural angled position instead of the palm facing down.
Ergonomic mechanical keyboards are not just a gimmick made by manufacturers to get you to buy pricey keyboards, because there are brands that are very cheap.
Ergonomic keyboards are meticulously designed to ensure users are comfortable while using them, even during long hours of typing.
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.