In the past month, I've been testing new, ergonomic keyboard, in a working environment. In this blogpost, I'll share my observations and thoughts, and I'll tell you if it's worth it for me.
I've never been some keyboard nazi. I've always used some cheap ones, without any problems. I started with normal keys, then went to the low profile ones, and as time passed by, I went back and forth a couple of times, using different keyboards. Only thing, that I recognized on myself was that I slightly preferred compact sizes, but nothing extreme.
Everything was fine, for the first couple of years since I started programming. But then, I realized small pain in my wrists. It wasn’t that bad and frequent, so I was ignoring it for few months. But then, it became more intensive and there were some moments, when I found myself focusing on that pain, instead of work.
Finding the reason
So I had to do something with my situation. Firstly, I wanted to know, if there is any particular reason behind that pain. Of course, I read lots of articles around the web to learn more about that situation and to learn how to prevent it.
I quickly realized, that reasons are fairly simple.
1. I do type all ten fingers style, so my palms stay at their place for the most time
2. I use vim to reduce mouse usage, but that also means that I do not move my hands that much
3. I use keyboard (at that time), that’s not very comfortable and it’s not ergonomic at all
As I was using the keyboard, my wrists were rotated outwards and that was the reason behind that pain.
Firstly, I tried to use a mechanical keyboard (”classic style”). (If you are interested, you can read about it here.)
It was clearly some improvement. It was a pleasure to use it, keys were easy to hit and I felt better. Having a better control over the key-travel is great and it also helped me reduce the stress on my wrists.
But I still found myself feeling (just a bit of a) pain, after a long day of usage. It might be caused also by some other factors, but it was there and it bothered me.
Since I ever started programming, I was ether working from home or working on my own. Because of that, I haven’t had any problems having my workday split into two parts with a huge gap between.
It had great benefits for me because I was able to concentrate for few hours without any problem and then stopped and switched to something else without feeling tired or overwhelmed. Then, after I enjoyed my afternoon, I did the second part of the work I was supposed to do and went to sleep.
So, because I divided my workday into several chunks, my wrists and back had their free time to relax.
But everything started to be more complicated, after a few months working full-time. Suddenly, I had to work 8-9 hours per day with a break for lunch and coffee (which I enjoy so much). That, in a combination with not very comfortable keyboard (at least, for me) became a reason behind another wrist pain.
It started softly, but after a couple of weeks, it became intensive and there were times when I couldn’t longer concentrate on the actual work because of it. It was a clear indicator for me, that something has to be changed in order to stay healthy.
Picking an ergonomic keyboard
Based on the situation I described, I decided to give a chance to the ergonomic keyboards, to show their magic. Since I do know nothing about ergonomic keyboards, I did a research (as always) on Reddit and Youtube. I came across few Reddit discussions, that suggested a Microsoft keyboard, and finally this video. I found that keyboard very pleasant and decided to buy it and find myself if it’ll help me or not.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Wireless Desktop Kit
If you would like to learn more about that keyboard, you can find some more information about it here. It is a Keyboard, Mouse and Numpad kit.
Right now, it’s been about a month since I bought that keyboard. And I feel happy so far. An amount of pain decreased drastically during that month. And since there is no pain to bother me during my work, I can fully concentrate on the coding itself. It is comfortable to type on that keyboard for a long time and I don’t feel stress in my wrists at all. Since I do type all ten fingers, I didn’t had any problem switching to the split keyboard design. Keys are not the best (since I really do like mechanical ones) but I’m quite happy with them.