Mechanical keyboards have become increasingly popular among computer users in recent years. These keyboards are praised for their durability, high-quality switches, and satisfying tactile feedback. However, another aspect of mechanical keyboards is often overlooked: their impact on hand health. This article will explore whether mechanical keyboards are better for your hands or pose a risk to your hand health.
Benefits of Mechanical Keyboards
One of the critical benefits of mechanical keyboards is their ergonomic design. Most mechanical keyboards are built with an angle that is comfortable for typing, which helps to reduce strain on your wrists and arms. Additionally, some mechanical keyboard come with built-in wrist rests, reducing the stress on your hands.
Key travel distance
The critical travel distance on mechanical keyboards is also greater than on other keyboards. This means the keys have a longer distance to travel before bottoming out, reducing the keystroke’s impact on your fingers.
Key actuation force
Another benefit of mechanical keyboards is that they require less force to activate the keys. This means you don’t have to press as hard to type, reducing the strain on your fingers.
Improved typing speed and accuracy
Mechanical keyboards are also known for improving typing speed and accuracy. The tactile feedback of the switches helps users type faster and more accurately, reducing the time spent typing and ultimately reducing the strain on your hands.
Drawbacks of Mechanical Keyboards
While mechanical keyboards have many benefits, they also have some drawbacks that should be considered.
One of the most significant drawbacks of mechanical keyboards is their noise. The clicky sound of the switches can be loud, which can be distracting to others around you. However, there are quieter switches available, such as Cherry MX Silent switches, that can help to reduce the noise level.
Mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than other types of keyboards. The high-quality switches and materials used in their construction contribute to their cost. However, many users feel that the benefits of mechanical keyboards outweigh the cost.
Mechanical keyboards are also heavier than other types of keyboards, which can make them less portable. However, this weight is often due to their sturdy construction, which contributes to their durability.
Comparison with Other Keyboards
To understand whether mechanical keyboards are better for your hands, it’s essential to compare them to other keyboards.
Membrane keyboards are the most typical type of keyboard and are often included with computers. These keyboards have a rubber dome that sits under the keys and provides resistance when typing. While inexpensive, they offer different tactile feedback or critical travel distance than mechanical keyboards, making typing more fatiguing.
Chiclet keyboards, also known as island-style keyboards, have a similar design to membrane keyboards but with a more spaced-out key layout. They are often found on laptops and tablets. While they offer a good typing experience, they are less durable than mechanical keyboards and can be more prone to crucial failure.
Scissor Switch Keyboards
Scissor switch keyboards have a mechanism that uses scissor-shaped plastic pieces that interlock, providing tactile feedback and a shorter critical travel distance than membrane keyboards. They are commonly found on laptops and can provide a good typing experience.
The Impact of Mechanical Keyboards on Hand Health
While mechanical keyboards have many benefits, it’s essential to consider their impact on hand health. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis are all conditions that can result from repetitive typing motions. However, the ergonomic design and lower actuation force of mechanical keyboards can help to reduce the risk of developing these conditions.
How to Choose the Right Mechanical Keyboard
When choosing a mechanical keyboard, there are several factors to consider.
Different switch types provide additional tactile feedback and levels of resistance. Some popular switch types include Cherry MX Red, Blue, and Brown. It’s essential to try out different switch types to find the most comfortable for you.
Mechanical keyboards come in various sizes, from full-sized to compact 60%. Consider how much desk area space you have and how often you need to travel with your keyboard when choosing a size.
Some mechanical keyboards come with backlighting, which can be helpful when typing in low-light conditions. However, backlighting can also increase the cost of the keyboard.
The Importance of Proper Typing Technique
Proper typing technique is crucial for maintaining hand health, even when using ergonomic keyboards like mechanical keyboards. While mechanical keyboards are designed to reduce strain on the fingers and hands, improper typing can still lead to hand injuries such as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.
A critical factor in proper typing technique is posture. Sitting up straight with both feet on the ground and arms at a comfortable angle is essential. The keyboard should be at elbow height, and the wrists should be straight and relaxed.
Another critical factor is hand position. The fingers should be curved over the keys, with the index fingers on the F and J keys to help maintain proper hand alignment. The hands should be hovering slightly above the keys to reduce strain on the fingers and wrists.
Breaks and Stretch
Taking breaks and stretching regularly when typing for extended periods is also essential. This can help reduce muscle fatigue and prevent hand injuries. Stretching exercises such as wrist curls and finger flexes can also help improve hand strength and flexibility.
In addition to proper posture and hand position, it’s essential to type with a light touch and avoid unnecessary force. Typing too hard can increase strain on the fingers and hands, increasing the risk of hand injuries.
While mechanical keyboards can provide an improved typing experience and reduce strain on the fingers and hands, proper typing technique is still crucial for maintaining hand health. By practicing good posture, hand position, typing technique, taking breaks, and stretching regularly, users can reduce the risk of hand injuries and enjoy the benefits of mechanical keyboards.
Mechanical keyboards offer many benefits, including ergonomic design, improved typing speed and accuracy, and reduced strain on the fingers. While they can be more expensive and louder than other keyboards, the benefits may outweigh the cost for users who spend a lot of time typing. When choosing a mechanical keyboard, it’s essential to consider factors such as switch type, size, and backlighting to find the most comfortable one.