Ergonomic mice have a bad reputation, mainly because trackballs and other ergonomic options look ridiculous and have a steep learning curve. But vertical mice promise to deliver ergonomics and prevent wrist injuries without taking you out of your comfort zone. And yes, this claim is largely true.
It’s not for nothing that I say “mostly true” – replacing your mouse is no easy feat. But a vertical mouse can contribute to your prevention or treatment strategy, and unlike trackballs, vertical mice don’t have a crazy learning curve. They’re just sideways mice.
Repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel are common among everyday computer users. And while doctors know a lot about treating and preventing these injuries, some questions remain unanswered or unclear.
That said, experts generally agree that vertical mice are more ergonomic than traditional mice. They are not a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for wrist injuries, but they can contribute to a prevention or treatment strategy.
That’s because vertical mice place your hand at an angle in a “handshake position.” Most office wrist injuries are the result of two things: pressing your wrists against a desk and twisting them at awkward angles. Ideally, your wrists shouldn’t be pressing against anything and your entire arm (not just your wrist) should move with your mouse.
When holding a vertical mouse in a “handshake” position, keep your wrist off the desk and in the air. It also prevents you from twisting your wrist back and forth, as you have to move your entire arm (from the shoulder down) to push a vertical mouse around your desk.
Unfortunately, there are several factors that can contribute to wrist injuries. Your mouse isn’t the only suspect in this setup — it’s accompanied by your keyboard, your chair, the height of your monitor and desk, and your overall posture. If you’re serious about preventing or treating a wrist injury, a nice mouse may not be enough.
Place one hand on your mouse and another on your keyboard. If your wrists “float” and your elbows are parallel to the desk, you already have a fairly ergonomic setup. Adding something like a vertical mouse to the mix can help take it a step further and contribute to your prevention or treatment strategy.
But most people will find themselves leaning forward and stabilizing themselves with their wrists. If you fit into this category, a new mouse will only do so much. You may still find yourself pressing weight on your wrists as you type, and your bent position can contribute to neck or back pain.
So, unless a doctor tells you otherwise, you should research the height of your desk, chair, and monitor before buying expensive gadgets. In an ideal setup, your feet should be planted on the floor with your knees at a comfortable angle (usually about 120 degrees). Your forearm and elbows should be parallel to your desk, and when you sit up, the tippy top of your monitor should be directly opposite your eyes.
Once you meet these criteria, you’ll have a much better idea of how to upgrade your mouse, keyboard, and so on. It may also be that these gadgets don’t need upgrade, although more ergonomic devices certainly won’t hurt your setup.
If you are currently experiencing wrist pain or are seriously concerned about repetitive strain injuries, you should see a doctor or physical therapist. They will know a lot more about prevention and treatment than a stranger on the internet.
Some ergonomic mouse alternatives, such as trackballs, are a bit clunky and require some practice. But vertical mice aren’t all that different from regular mice. You just hold them at a different angle. If you are used to a vertical mouse, you should only need a few days.
The two things you should really be concerned about are size and functionality. If a vertical mouse is too big or too small for your hands, you probably won’t like using it. And if it’s missing features that matter to you, like a fast scroll wheel or extra buttons, you’ll feel like you’re being punished.
In my opinion, Logitech is the best brand to address these concerns. Both MX Vertical and Logitech Elevator mice offer advanced features and the Lift is subtly marketed as an option for smaller hands.
Now I cannot guarantee that you will like a vertical mouse. Many people who try an ergonomic mouse relapse after a few months. That’s why it’s important to shop with a little knowledge in your pocket – if the information in this article doesn’t get you excited about vertical mice, for example, you might want to check out trackballs or other mouse alternatives.
Again, choosing a vertical mouse requires some research. I recommend looking up reviews and focusing on things like size and features. Cost is also a factor, but since there aren’t many vertical mice to choose from, you may want to do a bit of window shopping before setting your budget.
And that brings us to another problem; there are only six or seven vertical mice that are really worth it. Brands are slowly entering this space as they realize the importance (and profitability) of ergonomics, but as it stands, MX Vertical and Logitech Elevator are actually the cream of the crop. If you don’t like them, you probably won’t like other vertical mice.
If so, I recommend looking at ergonomic mice alternatives† A trackball may sound cumbersome, but options like the Kensington Expert are very ergonomic and programmable. apples Magic trackpad can be a good option if you’re using a Mac, and while it’s just a traditional style mouse, the Logitech MX Master is surprisingly ergonomic.
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