PC gaming with a wrist-rest - is it uncomfortable?

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Justin258

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#1  Edited By Justin258

So I've been playing games on PC for a long time now, and my biggest complaint with a mouse and keyboard setup is that it's simply uncomfortable, especially on my wrists. Recently, my brother bought himself a new keyboard, one of these to be precise. I wanted to try it, to see if it was any more comfortable than the old-ass regular keyboard with no rest whatsoever that I'd been using. I thought it would be uncomfortable or hard to get used to, but it was not. Holy crap, I played Dragon Age Origins for quite a while with absolutely no ache on my left wrist whatsoever. In fact, I finished playing and my wrist felt pretty good.

So, naturally, I'm going to get one of these as soon as I can. But that doesn't solve the problem of my mouse hand being uncomfortable. What makes me wary of going out and buying a mousepad with one of those gel rests is that every time I've used one, it has felt supremely unnatural to use. Not necessarily "uncomfortable", but definitely "unnatural", and the purpose of this topic is to ask:

Have you ever used a mousepad like this for gaming and have you ever gotten used to it? Or is there something else you might recommend to more comfortably use a mouse, preferably costing less than $20?

(Yes, I do try to practice good posture as well as I can. No, I don't think I have carpal tunnel - but I'd very much like to prevent it)

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mordukai

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#2  Edited By mordukai

I have a mouse pad with a wrist-rest and while at first it felt odd I now can't use anything but. Personally I feel the difference especially when it comes to long play times.

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#3  Edited By Snail

Oh God you have made a mistake.

Ever since I broke my G11 keyboard after cleaning it I've had to use a supposedly ergonomic Microsoft keyboard. It's similar to the one you have there, but the keys are not separated and the curvature is not as accentuated - and yet, I still find it to be pretty... weird. Like, the keys are lower than where they should be. I'm pretty sure I make a lot more typos there than I do on my Macbook Pro's keyboard. It's just weird.

But maybe that's just me. If you liked it and played Dragon Age on it for hours, then keep at it I guess.

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DizzyMedal

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#4  Edited By DizzyMedal

I tried to use one of those mice pads. I got one at work, then I took one home so I wasn't constantly changing between using one and not using one and to help me get used to it. I think maybe if I'd started out slower and with less scope to activities (document writing, browsing and what not) and not just jumped straight into games it might have gone better, but I really didn't like using it to game. Especially not FPSs.

In the end I just hid my work one in a drawer and returned to 'normal' both there and at home.

But if you can find a cheap one, maybe you should try it out. You might like it more than me. (They make pretty good stress/frustration targets too. Can slam your hand down on the desk very satisfyingly without any pain or loud noises :D )

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WilltheMagicAsian

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#5  Edited By WilltheMagicAsian

I just have my mouse pad hanging a little off my desk, I also have a giant mouse pad.

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buckwatters

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#6  Edited By buckwatters

A friend of mine is an occupational therapist who specializes in injuries from the elbow down told me that the wrist rest helps a little, but she says that a lot of carpal tunnel injuries or finger numbness results from bad positioning of the wrist and that wrist rests don't really prevent wrist damage. You may not notice it, but your wrist could be off kilter by even a little and could be doing damage. What she recommended for me is to try and not use your arm rests on an office chair (if you have a chair with those) and to keep your forearm and wrist as straight as possible and pivot right to left naturally without having your wrist "tilt" to one side. If you're like me, you might notice that after a while of gaming, your hand looks like it is leaning to the outside with the inside of your hand facing the left just a bit, this is what you don't want to happen. Try to keep your wrist flat as possible. I know you mention that you try to practice good posture, I thought so too, until she pointed out small things like that so maybe keep an eye out for that?

To answer your question, I bought a Razer vespula and I think it was $20, but I can't remember. After making those posture changes I still use the wrist rest to be safe and I haven't noticed any numbness or wrist pain. Hope that helps~!

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Laiv162560asse

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#7  Edited By Laiv162560asse

I've already done damage to my wrist due to bad posture - had a small ganglion on my right wrist for a while. I always used to think those wrist support pads looked unnatural and stupid, but when this wrist got really painful I got desperate, and since using a wrist support pad I've come to appreciate it a lot. It doesn't completely correct my bad posture issues but it means I don't get pains and the ganglion hasn't come back. So go for it.

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49th

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#8  Edited By 49th

I use a cloth wrist wrest for my mouse hand, I can't imagine playing without one now. It's like an anchor for my hand, I can move the complete length of the mouse mat which is comparable in size to the one you posted, but I don't have to move my whole arm around and it's comfortable.

I usually just buy a cheap £10 mat whenever my current one gets messed up.

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Justin258

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#9  Edited By Justin258

@Buckwatters said:

A friend of mine is an occupational therapist who specializes in injuries from the elbow down told me that the wrist rest helps a little, but she says that a lot of carpal tunnel injuries or finger numbness results from bad positioning of the wrist and that wrist rests don't really prevent wrist damage. You may not notice it, but your wrist could be off kilter by even a little and could be doing damage. What she recommended for me is to try and not use your arm rests on an office chair (if you have a chair with those) and to keep your forearm and wrist as straight as possible and pivot right to left naturally without having your wrist "tilt" to one side. If you're like me, you might notice that after a while of gaming, your hand looks like it is leaning to the outside with the inside of your hand facing the left just a bit, this is what you don't want to happen. Try to keep your wrist flat as possible. I know you mention that you try to practice good posture, I thought so too, until she pointed out small things like that so maybe keep an eye out for that?

To answer your question, I bought a Razer vespula and I think it was $20, but I can't remember. After making those posture changes I still use the wrist rest to be safe and I haven't noticed any numbness or wrist pain. Hope that helps~!

Do you mean "move my whole forearm"?

That seems very uncomfortable and tiring before even an hour is over with. Also sounds like a good way to develop a case of tennis elbow. Still, I'm not an expert on wrists so maybe she does know, I just can't see how moving half your arm is better for you than moving your wrist left and right.

I have a chair with arms but I don't really rest my arms on them.

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#10  Edited By Ben_H

I used a mousepad with a wrist rest and started to develop carpal tunnel because of it. How I position my hand does not work with mousepads. I also have tried using keyboard wrist rests but they are always uncomfortable to me. Any discomfort with either can be made up with a chair being the proper height and resting the correct part of your wrists on the desk.

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McGhee

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#11  Edited By McGhee

I've found these to give the best overall support.

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#12  Edited By ajamafalous
@WilltheMagicAsian said:

I just have my mouse pad hanging a little off my desk

Me too!
 
Also, I developed calluses on my wrists back in middle/high school when I didn't really use proper posture. Haven't had any pain or numbness issues or anything though, so I'm guessing it's okay?
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Justin258

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#13  Edited By Justin258

@McGhee said:

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I've found these to give the best overall support.

I knew one of these were coming.

EDIT: Bad wording. I knew someone would post something like this.

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#14  Edited By bchampnd

I only entered into PC gaming a few months ago but I figured out early on that I needed some kind of padding for my wrist with my computer set up. I'd never used a mousepad with a wrist rest because I never thought it necessary so I just bought a normal one. After a few days, for a combination of reasons - shape of desk, height of desk, sharp edge of cheap desk, etc... - I picked up a standalone wrist rest made by 3M which was under $10 on Amazon (I only mention brand because it is the same manufacturer as the mousepad with wrist rest linked in the OP) and it made everything feel much more comfortable after I got used to it, which took me about a week or two.

So the short answer is that, while a wrist rest might not feel comfortable or natural at first, you really don't have anything to lose if you're currently experiencing discomfort when using your mouse. I recommend going for the standalone pad because it's worked for me and it's not a large investment so you won't feel too bad about ditching it if you don't like it.

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#16  Edited By MordeaniisChaos

I usually have my arm in such a way that my wrist isn't the part touching my desk, it's usually a spot about 6 inches up my forearm. So I never needed to use one. Never had any wrist issues.

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MikkaQ

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#17  Edited By MikkaQ

I don't rest my wrists, I just play at the edge of the desk, with the mouse pad bent over the edge a little.

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#19  Edited By buckwatters

@believer258: Sorry if I wasn't clear, only your hand should be moving left to right, wrist all the way to the elbow should stay stationary as much as possible. Your wrist should be kept flat.

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#20  Edited By ericdrum

I'm a software engineer by day that is back and forth between my keyboard and mouse and my wrists don't have problems at work. But when I play PC games with a KB/M, my mouse wrist really starts hurting after a while. I've tried several wrist rests that all seem to end up making one part of my wrist hold the weight of my arm and therefore tends to concentrate the pain. So I just can't use them at all. That bead one above that CrystaljDesign listed was my favorite, but ultimately it still put my wrist in an uncomfortable position and I couldn't really get comfortable with it. I just pulled the trigger on the item that MOAB listed there. That actually seems like the exact thing that would not get in my way while gaming and yet relieve the pressure where I rest. I'll give anything a try at this point. More and more, I've been using a controller when possible just to avoid pain.

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#21  Edited By Dark

I used to use a microsoft ergonomic when I was going through school, you get used to them and they are very comfortable to type on. Just be ready for the fact that once you get used to one and then stop using one, you will be missing keys on a regular keyboard for a little while. They are positioned differently for a reason, its all about how your fingers stretch to reach keys and so on and so forth.

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monetarydread

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#22  Edited By monetarydread

two words for you:

Vertical Mouse

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#23  Edited By myniceicelife

my dad uses a ergonomic keyboard, and i HATE when i have to help him with his computer cause i know i'll have to use that keyboard. as for mouse pad i haven't gotten anything to make the wrist support better, which has caused problems every so often. i almost did buy one of those anime mouse pads once, but decided against it haha.

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#24  Edited By living4theday258

@Snail said:

Oh God you have made a mistake.

Ever since I broke my G11 keyboard after cleaning it I've had to use a supposedly ergonomic Microsoft keyboard. It's similar to the one you have there, but the keys are not separated and the curvature is not as accentuated - and yet, I still find it to be pretty... weird. Like, the keys are lower than where they should be. I'm pretty sure I make a lot more typos there than I do on my Macbook Pro's keyboard. It's just weird.

But maybe that's just me. If you liked it and played Dragon Age on it for hours, then keep at it I guess.

this key board does seem weird at first but once you get used to it god is it comfortable.

@CrystaljDesign: that looks really comfortable.

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#25  Edited By Strongbadman47

I had pain in my arm and gotten calluses when I started playing a lot of PC games.

Later on I switched to a Logitech trackball mouse. Been using it for a year now and I haven't had any injury from using it.

TRACKBALL 4 LYFE

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#26  Edited By doublezero

Wrist rests in general should be avoided at all costs.

Lay your forearm on a flat surface with your palm flat on it, and you will see that your wrist is naturally elevated.

When you use a wrist rest, it compresses the nerves/tendons etc in your wrist, and causes further problems.

For keyboard use, a palm-rest can be helpful if you don’t have a low-profile keyboard, to stop you flexing your wrist upwards to reach the keys, if you are using bad typing techniques and resting your palms on your desk as you type. (You should hold your hands above the keyboard) Either use the solid plastic rest that came with your keyboard, if it has one, or buy a reasonably solid gel rest. The point is to elevate your palm, not to cushion it. Buy one that has a flat surface, and is not sculpted in any way.

“Ergonomic” keyboards can be better for you if you use poor posture when typing, but they won’t cure RSI. They simply move the problem from your wrists to your shoulders, as they push your elbows out. They do force you to become a better typist if they use a split design though.

If you are not able to touch-type, I would recommend learning that before going out and buying a new keyboard, and if you suffer from pain in your fingers, learning the DVORAK or similar keyboard layouts (I use QGMLWB) can considerably reduce finger travel when typing. I also found that switching to a mechanical keyboard helped. (Buying a keyboard with laptop-style keys made things much worse for me) I bought a Topre keyboard, but there are some relatively cheap options with MX Brown or MX Blue switches now, which should help.

Buying a keyboard tray can also help if you find yourself hunched over your desk when typing. Or if you have more money to spend, you might want to look into keyboard & mouse platforms similar to what companies like Humanscale offer.

As for mice; you should never use a mouse pad that has a wrist rest.

They have the same problem as keyboard wrist-rests in that they put pressure exactly where you don’t want it on your wrist, but they also restrict your movement, encouraging moving the mouse by keeping your forearm stationary on the rest, and moving the mouse by twisting your wrist.

Instead, you should switch your mouse to a lower DPI setting (say 800 DPI) and move it using your forearm, keeping your wrist straight at all times. Some people find that switching to a palm-grip mouse can help encourage this behaviour.

Vertical mice have similar problems to “ergonomic” keyboards—they just shift the problem elsewhere, rather than trying to fix it. It’s true that it is better to have your wrist in a “handshake” position, but when using a vertical mouse, it puts pressure on the side of your hand, they usually encourage a pinching-type motion for clicking, and most users tend to control the mouse with their wrist, because holding the mouse vertically makes it more difficult to aim precisely.

Many people report improvements when using a vertical mouse initially, but find they develop even worse pain after a few months of use. If it fits your hand size well, I have personally found Razer’s DeathAdder to cause me the least amount of mouse-related problems, and I’ve spent a lot of money trying all sorts of gaming and ergonomic mice.

I've also tried trackballs, and found that they were just too slow (very low DPI) and imprecise, whether it's the large cue-ball sized trackballs for palm use, or the smaller thumb-operated ones, that were causing me RSI pain within weeks. It's probably not a solution for everyone, but I actually ended up buying two mice - a DeathAdder for either hand, since they make a left-handed version. It took a while to learn, but switching between left and right-handed mouse usage definitely helped reduce the pain I had a lot quicker than any other changes I made, by balancing the load out. I mostly use the left-handed mouse on the desktop, and the right-handed one in games, as I'm not quite so precise with my left hand yet. Other people find that a trackball, or a trackpad works well in their left hand, or even just in their right hand on the desktop, only using a mouse for games, where a trackball or a trackpad don't work so well.

As for your mousing surface, well there are two types I would recommend trying. Either go for a large, soft cloth mouse pad with reasonably thick padding, or go for the thinnest, smoothest hard mouse pad you can get. Personally, I liked the cushioning on my palm that you get from a soft cloth mouse pad, but did not like the extra friction it creates. I found that using a smooth hard surface, rather than a textured one, was causing me less fatigue at the end of the day, as the mouse moves much more freely on it, especially when using a palm-type grip and moving the mouse with your forearm, which tends to put more pressure on the mouse, causing it to “sink” into softer pads.

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living4theday258

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#27  Edited By living4theday258

@00 said:

“Ergonomic” keyboards can be better for you if you use poor posture when typing, but they won’t cure RSI. They simply move the problem from your wrists to your shoulders, as they push your elbows out. They do force you to become a better typist if they use a split design though.

I disagree with you good sir. I have no shoulder pain when I use this keyboard, and it doesn't push my elbows out.

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doublezero

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#28  Edited By doublezero

@living4theday258 said:

@00 said:

“Ergonomic” keyboards can be better for you if you use poor posture when typing, but they won’t cure RSI. They simply move the problem from your wrists to your shoulders, as they push your elbows out. They do force you to become a better typist if they use a split design though.

I disagree with you good sir. I have no shoulder pain when I use this keyboard, and it doesn't push my elbows out.

Well everyone is different I suppose, but most ergonomic keyboards cause you to bring your elbows out further than a standard keyboard does due to them putting your wrist into a straighter position compared to a regular keyboard - though you may not realise it if you aren't looking for it. Doing that usually results in shoulder pain over time, for people that are at a computer typing long enough to experience wrist pain with a regular keyboard. If their problem was caused by poor technique, rather than the keyboard, switching to an ergonomic keyboard with a split design that forces better technique, may fix that problem.

What tends to help ergonomics much more than those angled keyboards, is buying a compact keyboard that gets rid of the numpad, which most people don't actually need if they aren't doing data entry. This allows you to bring in the mouse closer, so you aren't reaching for it as much. Another alternative if you do need a numpad is a "left-handed" keyboard which puts the numpad and arrows on the left-hand side, allowing you to bring the mouse even closer, or you could use a compact keyboard with a separate numpad.

You may not experience shoulder pain from your ergonomic keyboard, but were you experiencing wrist pain before? If you weren't, there's a good chance you probably won't experience shoulder pain either. If you were, it probably took a long time to develop, so you may not show problems right away - or maybe for you, it works. The problem with a lot of "ergonomic" products is that everyone is different, and if the product is not adjustable, well it's only going to be ergonomic if you happen to fit the person they modeled it around.

But studies have shown that for most people, all those keyboards do is shift the problem area and give temporary relief, rather than fixing the problem, which is better addressed by fixing your workspace ergonomics (keyboard height, distance, angle etc.) and/or switching away from QWERTY to an alternative layout like DVORAK or QGMLWB which significantly reduces key travel when typing, keeping you on the home row for much longer.

For a keyboard like that to be truly ergonomic, they need to implement an inverse stagger on the left-hand keys, which few ergonomic keyboards do:

Frankly most keyboards would benefit from that, but I doubt that's going to change any time soon, just like we're stuck with QWERTY being the standard layout thanks to typewriters.