Pain Free Working

Your Complete Guide to Keyboard and Mouse Ergonomics

Many people spend time working at a computer for extended periods, leading to discomfort or even long-term health. Ergonomics, the science of designing a workspace to fit the user, helps minimize strain and optimize comfort and efficiency. This guide will cover the essentials of ergonomic keyboard and mouse use to help you create a healthier and more productive workspace.

What Is the Most Ergonomic Way to Use a Mouse and Keyboard?

The key to the ergonomic use of a mouse and keyboard lies in maintaining a neutral posture and minimizing unnecessary movements. Here are some tips to achieve this:

Use Compact Keyboards

Compact keyboards are ones that don’t have a number pad on them. This means they’re smaller in size than regular keyboards. Using a compact keyboard means you won’t have to extend your hands or fingers between the keyboard and the mouse.

Additionally, for those using laptops, having an external keypad is much better because the laptop’s keyboard isn’t designed for prolonged use. An external compact keypad will allow you to place your arms in a better stance and reduce the tension on your shoulders too.

Neutral Wrist Position

Keep your wrists straight and avoid bending them upwards, downwards, or to the sides. Your hands should be at or slightly below elbow level. This can help reduce tennis elbow and other RSIs.

Shoulder Relaxation

Ensure your shoulders are relaxed and not hunched. This reduces tension in your neck and upper back.

Elbow Height and Angle

Keep your elbows close to your body, bent at an angle between 90 and 120 degrees whenever you use your keyboard and mouse. Additionally, you should position This position helps prevent strain on your arms and shoulders.

Mouse Movements

Place your mouse within easy reach to avoid overextending your arm. This means your mouse should be roughly in line with your keyboard. Consider using keyboard shortcuts and adjusting your mouse sensitivity to reduce the amount of hand movement needed.

What Is the Correct Ergonomic Position of the Keyboard to Avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The correct positioning of your keyboard can prevent discomfort and potential injury. Follow these tips for optimal placement:

Center Alignment

Position the keyboard on the table so that the “B” key is aligned with the center of your body. This alignment ensures you remain balanced.


The keyboard should be at elbow height, meaning your elbows should stay close to your torso and bent at a comfortable angle (90 to 120 degrees). Your forearms should be parallel to the floor.


Aim for a slight negative tilt (tilted away from you). This keeps your wrists in a neutral position, reducing strain. Avoid positive tilt, where the keyboard (and mouse) are angled towards you, as it forces your wrists into an unnatural position.


Keep the keyboard close enough to avoid stretching your arms. Your elbows should remain close to your body while typing.

Using a keyboard tray while you type on your computer can help achieve the correct height and angle, making it easier to maintain optimal positioning.

Where Should the Keyboard and Mouse Be on the Desk?

Proper placement of your mouse and keyboard on your desk is crucial to ensure you remain in good health as you work. Here are some tips:


Both the keyboard and mouse should be within easy reach to prevent overreaching. Ideally, the mouse should be placed right next to the keyboard and your arm should not be stretched extensively to use it.

Desk Space

Ensure there is enough space on your desk to support your forearms while typing or using the mouse. This support helps maintain a relaxed posture. This also avoids different levels between your mouse and keyboard.


Keep the keyboard flat or with a slight negative tilt. Position it about 1 to 2 inches above your thighs. Your mouse should be on the same level as the keyboard and not on different levels, allowing for easy, comfortable movements.

Consider using a wrist rest to provide additional support and maintain a neutral arm and wrist position. However, avoid using wrist rests while typing or using the mouse; they are meant to be used when taking breaks.

Additional Tips

Ergonomic Keyboard and Ergonomic Mouse

One way to reduce the likelihood of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tennis elbow, and other RSIs is to use ergonomic devices. An ergonomic keyboard usually has a split design for people using both hands for typewriting. It also has a tweaked keyboard layout, purposely designed that way to reduce pressure on the upper arms, elbows, and back. This kind of keyboard can take a while to get used to but it can save you in the long run.

If you can’t get an ergonomically designed keyboard, a compact keyboard is a good idea too. Compact keyboards are smaller and usually come without the number pad. Using compact keyboards also means you won’t have to reach so far between the mouse and keyboard to do your work.

When it comes to using a mouse, a vertical mouse is usually recommended. This is because vertical mice encourage your hand and arms into a neutral position, reducing the occurrence of strain and injury.

Some tips mention not using a keyboard tray because it can be difficult to position it correctly. However, if you find using a tray works well for you, then that’s more than fine. Many gamers prefer using a tray too but it’s entirely different from an ergonomically designed one. If you’re using a tray, just be sure that you are not stretching your arms or shoulders too far when you use it. Your tray should also accommodate both your mouse and keyboard. 

For those using laptops, an external mouse is preferable instead of using the trackpad on the laptop. This is because a trackpad is not designed for prolonged use. An external mouse ensures that you can position your hands and fingers in the most comfortable way possible instead of trying to squeeze your posture into your laptop.

Monitor Height

Position your monitor so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level. This prevents neck strain.

Use Computer Accessories

To make yourself more comfortable while you work, you can add computer accessories to your desk. These can be anything like a cushioned mouse pad, a cushioned rest, or a keyboard tray. If you’re using a laptop, use a laptop stand to elevate the height of your machine so that the screen will be at eye level. This can also help with keeping your arms and shoulders in a natural position.

Chair Adjustments

Use an adjustable chair that supports your lower back. Your feet should be flat on the floor, with your thighs parallel to the ground.

Regular Breaks

Take breaks every 30 to 60 minutes. Stand up, stretch, and move around to relieve tension and improve circulation.


Paying attention to the correct positioning of your mouse and keyboard can have a profound impact on your comfort and health. Placing your keyboard and mouse, as well as other peripherals, in one line will reduce pressure on your arms, shoulders, and back.

Considering the natural position, as well as using an ergonomic mouse and ergonomic keyboard, will allow you to have an ergonomic workstation that supports your well-being and productivity. 

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.