We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

Ergonomic, shmergonomic

Anti-RSI PC kit is a load of old pony says expert

Most 'ergonomic' computer products which claim to reduce the risks of RSI do nothing of the sort, according to Dr Kevin Taylor, an expert in computer-related illnesses.

"What is ergonomic about the Microsoft Ergonomic Mouse? It's just another mouse," said Taylor. "If it does have an effect, it addresses less than one percent of the problem." Taylor gained his PhD in electronic engineering.

The mistake most so-called ergonomic products make is to concentrate on the wrist, says Taylor, whereas 99 percent of problems should be addressed through regular 'micro-pauses', better posture and avoiding eyestrain.

The only products which have much effect are height-adjustable furniture which can be used to regulate posture, says Taylor. Yet mice and keyboards labelled 'ergonomic' typically sell for several times the price of their conventional equivalents. For instance, standard mice can be bought for less than £5, whereas 'ergonomic' versions such as Microsoft’s IntelliMouse cost around £25. Similarly, basic Qwerty keyboards can be had for around £10 while Microsoft’s Natural Keyboard Pro will set you back at least £31.

Even the term RSI (repetitive strain injury) is a misnomer, Taylor told a recent conference of the RSI Association. "Repetition isn't the problem, rather it's the tension caused by lack of breaks and [the need for] fine muscle control."

Repetition of large movements rarely causes RSI, but working at a computer constrains movement to a very small field and this causes tension and bad posture, says Taylor. This can only be relieved by taking regular breaks and by relaxing the muscles concerned.

Taylor suffered from computer-related injuries while studying in New Zealand and has researched the subject extensively. His company, Niche Software, produces a program called Workpace, intended to analyse people's working practices and implement a scheme to reduce the risks of computer-related stresses.

IDG UK Sites

Apple WWDC 2015 rumours: iOS 9, OS X 10.11, Apple TV & more

IDG UK Sites

Why I think the Apple Watch sucks and you'd be mad to buy it

IDG UK Sites

Kung Fury VFX behind-the-scenes: how Fido blew up everything for this year's most over-the-top film

IDG UK Sites

What will Apple launch at WWDC 2015, with one week to go? Apple TV, Macs, Beats Music, iOS 9, OS X 1......