Mousing around all day with an ergonomically improper setup just about guarantees wrist pain, shoulder tightness, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
And with an estimated 30-50% of the computer working population affected, it’s clear that using a standard computer mouse is damaging our bodies.
Fortunately, an ergonomic mouse is a simple and inexpensive solution that effectively alleviates and prevents wrist pain and shoulder fatigue.
We’ll get to the best ergonomic mouse on the market in a second – but first, let’s talk about why a vertical mouse is so much better.
Just Say “Om” – External Shoulder Rotation
Pin your elbows at your sides, then roll your wrists out to put your forearms up like that woman meditating.
Do you feel your shoulders rotating away from your chest?
That new shoulder position – I call it the “Om” position for the sound meditators make – is external rotation.
And external rotation is the healthiest position for your shoulders to occupy under load or for long durations.
It makes everything stable and well-organized, because it’s just how your shoulders are designed to be used. And it will protect you against super tense shoulders, back pain, and neck pain.
“Hands at 10 & 2” is Good Shoulder Advice
When you were learning to drive, no doubt someone told you to put your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. This is good advice for a number of reasons, but it also puts your shoulders into that healthy, externally rotated position.
When you put your hands at 10 and 2, the weight of your elbows pulls down and in, putting your shoulders into external rotation.
If you keep your knuckles on the outside of the steering wheel, and slide your hands down around the wheel, your shoulders stay in this healthy position. You can especially feel the external rotation when your hands are on the bottom of the wheel, palms up.
Now, with your hands at the bottom of the wheel, palms up, imagine flipping them over so your knuckles are now on top. Did you feel your shoulders rotate internally?
Standard mouse position is even worse than that.
A Standard Mouse Forces Your Shoulders Into Internal Rotation
When your hands are “knuckles up” on bottom of the steering wheel, your shoulders are internally rotated. If you take your right hand off the wheel – keeping your knuckles up – and move it horizontally out to the right, away from your body, you can feel your shoulder rotating internally even further.
Feels pretty tense and uncomfortable right? That is the position that a standard mouse puts your shoulder into, and it is ugly.
A Standard Computer Mouse Hurts Your Wrist Too
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is essentially a chronic impingement of the median nerve, which runs through your forearm to your palm.
There are a few ways to cause Carpal Tunnel, but the most common is that near-constant pressure on the underside of the wrist combines with a reduced range of motion to just sort of stick everything together inside there.
When you use a standard computer mouse, chances are good that you rest the underside of your wrist on your desk just about all the time. That is a recipe for wrist pain, fatigue, and carpal tunnel.
A Vertical Ergonomic Mouse Solves Wrist and Shoulder Problems
The solution to both problems we outlined above is a vertical ergonomic mouse (sometimes called a handshake mouse for obvious reasons).
How a vertical ergonomic mouse helps your shoulders
We covered above why it’s so important to hold your shoulders in an externally rotated position. Unlike a standard mouse, which forces you into an internally rotated position (bad), a vertical mouse allows your shoulders to occupy a healthy, externally rotated position.
Note: A vertical ergonomic mouse pairs perfectly with a negative-angle keyboard tray.
That healthy shoulder loading means a reduction in abnormal tension all around the joint – reducing neck pain and back pain in addition to loosening up those tense shoulders.
So that’s big win #1.
How a vertical ergonomic mouse helps your wrist
This one is simple, but oh-so-powerful. We know Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by chronic pressure on the underside of your wrist. With a standard mouse, it’s a guarantee that you’ll rest your wrist on your desk.
But with a vertical mouse, it’s basically impossible to impinge on your median nerve!
You can’t really reach the buttons of the mouse and create unhealthy pressure between your wrist and desk at the same time. Even if you get super lazy, it will be the side of your wrist against your desk – a much less dangerous position.
So a vertical ergonomic mouse significantly reduces the chance of Carpal Tunnel (to basically 0). That’s big win #2.
Big win #3?
The Best Ergonomic Mouse on the Market is Super Inexpensive
When I set out to find the best ergonomic mouse around, I was expecting to have to pay (many) pretty pennies. And that’s the best part – I didn’t! (And you don’t have to either).
Not only are vertical ergonomic mice a godsend for our shoulders and wrists, they are incredibly inexpensive.
My vote for the best ergonomic mouse on the market is the Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse. As of this writing, it’s only $20 on Amazon.
Why I Love the Anker Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Mouse
First things first, the ergonomics are fantastic. It’s such a joy to hold that I couldn’t stop using it as soon as I got it out of the box. And, obviously, it delivers on the vertical mouse benefits of improved shoulder position and wrist health.
It’s lighter than I expected, but now I completely love the weight. It’s just as heavy as it needs to be to feel substantial, like the quality product it is, but it’s so easy to slide across the whole screen or pack up for a trip.
Finally, the wireless on this thing is just perfect. As soon as I plugged the (tiny) usb antenna into my computer, the mouse just worked. It goes to sleep after a few minutes of non-use to save battery, but a single click wakes it up instantly. If for some reason you want a wired model, this is the exact same mouse with a wire.
With perfect ergonomics and flawless performance in a vertical ergonomic mouse for under $20, it was a no-brainer, but my shoulder and wrist are sure glad I made the right decision.
Have you ever used a vertical mouse? What did you think?