About eight million people are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome every year. Nearly half a million affected people will suffer badly enough to seek relief from surgery. Most of these injuries originate from people working in the office, working on the computer for hours on end. The price of lasting carpal tunnel is weeks of rest, a wrist that may never fully recover, and the possibility of significant surgery. But all of this can be avoided.
In a resting state, the forearm is in the thumb-up position, but a normal mouse pushes the wrist into the palm-down position. As a result, the forearm bones tighten around the joint space. Vertical mice solve this problem because an ergonomic vertical mouse keeps you in an anatomically rested position and does not lead to wrist compression. The result is a neutral state that does not lead to tension, damage or the carpal tunnel.
Regular mice can hurt the body
Using a standard mouse for hours on end will damage your body, and this is reflected in the huge portions of people who suffer from carpal tunnel every year. Ergonomically designed mice are better than their non-ergonomic counterparts, but most still have a fundamental flaw by suspending the wrist in a non-neutral position against a flat surface.
But the wrist isn’t the only place that suffers. Tense mouse positions also involve the shoulders. Take a moment to rest your elbows on the sides, with your forearms with the wrist facing up, as if you are trying to assume a traditional meditative pose. Upon entering this pose, you should immediately feel a difference in pressure on your shoulders and wrists. This is a restful position for both types of joint, and long-term violations of this position can cause pain.
Alternatively, pretend there’s a steering wheel in front of you and grab it. Pay attention to how your shoulders are positioned when your hands are positioned at 10 and 15. After holding this position for a moment, slide your hands around the bottom of the wheel and you will feel the pressure from the rotation inside the shoulder as the joint rotates internally. That rotation seems awkward, but holding the standard mouse position is even worse. Carpal tunnel syndrome and similar injuries are the result of these small agitations applied to the joint day after day, forming a pattern of repetitive abuse.
Choose the right mouse
Just because your mouse is the right shape doesn’t mean it’s the right mouse for you. At the end of the day, with ergonomic vertical mouse or not, you still want your mouse to do everything you expect it to do. This can mean having extra buttons you can program, DPI configuration buttons, and even the build quality used by the device itself.
In other words, every ergonomic vertical mouse should help you avoid hurting your wrist, but not every vertical mouse will have everything you want. The vertical mouse market is still pretty empty, and that lack of competition has resulted in a multitude of insignificant mice being offered by many manufacturers. For example, most people use their right hand and most mice produce red for right-handers. But if you look hard enough, you can also find strong ambidextrous mice out there, even for vertical mice.
Wired vs wireless
Another thing to consider is whether you want or need a cable. Earlier generations of wireless mice were significantly worse in terms of responsiveness, but modern wireless mice are nearly indistinguishable from wired mice now. Many people will prefer a wireless mouse for the convenience of one less thread in their lives and desks. But cables aren’t without merit, they tend to be cheaper, never need to be recharged, and are still slightly more responsive than wireless mice because they’re directly connected.
Optical sensors vs. laser sensors
Most people won’t notice a difference between laser sensors and optical sensors. Each differs slightly in terms of motion tracking. Optical mice use LEDs to illuminate the desk surface for reading, while lasers use a laser beam to see what’s under the mouse in great detail. Lasers tend to read more dots per inch (DPI), which means they are able to be more sensitive.
But these differences in sensitivity will generally only be observed or appreciated by people who work with pixel-perfect precision, such as graphic artists or gamers. Another difference that mainly affects artists and players is acceleration. Laser mice appear deep in a surface, which can cause jittery movements when traveling at very slow speeds.
Optical mice work well on non-glossy surfaces, while laser mice work just about anywhere. If you have a glossy desk or will be using your mice on different surfaces, you may want to go all out for a laser mouse. But if you don’t specifically need a laser, you’ll be perfectly happy with optical sensors, which tend to be less expensive.
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