How to Hold a Mouse Properly: Avoid Carpal Tunnel and RSI

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Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are common in professions that involve intensive computer use, such as data entry, accounting, and other office jobs. These injuries are also commonly seen among the kitchen staff in restaurants and bars due to the continual manual labor associated with food service work. It’s no secret that data entry, coding, accounting, and other desk jobs can be stressful on sensitive fingertips — that’s why it’s not uncommon to see workers at these types of companies leave with a glove on one hand or some sort of “mouse mitten” to prevent their fingers from going numb. 

But what most people don’t know is that the glove or the mitten isn’t just for looks; it actually has a purpose. The truth is that prolonged exposure to stressors like awkward postures, sustained pressures on the hands and fingers (like when you keep them curled around something like a mouse), or extended periods of time keeping your hand in an unnatural position can cause pain, swelling, tingling sensation, and numbness in your hands.

Read on to learn more about how to hold a mouse properly and avoid carpal tunnel (as well as RSIs)!

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unspalsh

What is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a condition that people develop when they perform similar tasks over and over again. This results in pain, swelling, and tingling in the hands and fingers. People who work in a kitchen are at risk of developing RSI. Common professions that are at risk of developing RSI include: data entry, accounting, programming, administrative work, and other office jobs.

What are the common types of RSI?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common forms of RSI. It occurs when there is irritation and swelling in the median nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. De Quervain’s Tendinitis: This is an inflammation of the tendon sheath at the base of the thumb. Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons of muscles and joints that attach to the hand, wrist, fingers, and thumb. RSI can affect several parts of the body, including the wrists, hands, shoulders, and neck.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

Yes, it’s been mentioned above. But, let’s dive a little deeper into CTS. CTS is one of the most common work-related injuries. It’s also a major cause of disability for people who do a lot of typing at a computer, such as data entry and administrative staff. CTS is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The long term pressure results in pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the fingers. In many cases, CTS will subside on its own. However, sometimes it can progress to carpal tunnel syndrome surgery. So, it’s important to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing symptoms.

Child not holing the mouse properly
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

How to hold a mouse properly

Proper hand position and gripping is the first step in ensuring that you reduce the risk of injury from extended computer use. The best way to start is by observing how you are currently holding your mouse. If you are like most people, you probably have one of two grips. First, if you have a “palm grip”, your hand is cupped around the mouse with your fingers curled under it. If you have a “finger grip”, your fingers are curled around the sides of the mouse with the thumb resting on top.

Rotate and reposition your hand on the mouse

The most effective way to reduce pressure on your hands and fingers is by rotating the position of your hand. Do this by placing your hand above the mouse and rotating the position of your wrist before you start to type. This is so that the palm of your hand is facing upwards. This way, you are distributing the load of the mouse’s weight across your entire forearm rather than just your fingers. Otherwise, change the position of your hand while you’re typing. Try moving your hand from its initial position to a lower position. Try to make sure that your palm is resting on the desk instead of your wrist.

Change your grip while using a mouse

Do you want to be on the safe side and learn how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome? Then you should try changing your gripping technique. This is especially helpful if you have a job that requires you to use a computer all day long. It’s also helpful if your job requires you to use the same grip throughout the day. This can actually put added stress on your fingers, which is why it is important to change your grip every once in a while. There are three main types of grips that you can use when handling a mouse: the fingertip, the modified fingertip, and the palm grip.

Use a finger extension to support the pinky finger

The pinky finger is often left out of the equation when it comes to proper mouse handling. While other fingers are responsible for clicking, scrolling, and pressing buttons on the mouse, the pinky finger is usually just along for the ride — but it doesn’t have to be. To help support the pinky finger, try switching from a fingertip to a modified fingertip grip. Instead of curling your fingers around the mouse, try extending your pinky finger out past the other fingers so that it is pressing against the mouse button. This will help to create a support structure for your pinky finger and will help to prevent it from getting fatigued and overused.

Sit with correct posture

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many people still have poor posture while sitting at a desk. When sitting with proper posture, it is important to place your computer monitor directly in front of you at eye level. This is so that you aren’t straining or craning your neck to see the screen. Your keyboard should also be at a comfortable distance away from you. That way, when you type, you’ll be able to type with ease and without straining. Your keyboard should be at a height that allows your hands to remain relaxed when typing, and your mouse should be placed on the left-hand side of the keyboard with your hand resting on the right-side of the keyboard. This will help to reduce the amount of stress on your hands and fingers and will help to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Conclusion on How to Hold a Mouse

Learning proper hand position is important to prevent RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome. But, aside from that, it is also important for reducing fatigue and pain in your hands and fingers. Indeed, if you have any of the following symptoms, it’s always best to see your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions or diseases. These symptoms can include tingling sensations, numbness, swelling, stiffness, pain, and more.

Anyway, just like the old saying goes, “Better safe than sorry!” So, try to hold the mouse properly as often as you can!

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