Laptops are the saving grace for anyone who wants to work on the go. They’re easily stashed in a bag, used on a commute, or to turn any area of your home into a makeshift office.
But there’s a catch. Whether you’re a writer, programmer, or anyone else who types a lot for work, typing on a laptop can be detrimental to your health. The narrow, flat surface of a laptop isn’t designed for prolonged typing. Over time, poor typing posture can aggravate the joints and tissues in the hands and wrists.
The good news? There are solutions that can turn your laptop into a comfortable workstation. Keep reading this guide to find out why your wrists hurt when typing on a laptop, and actionable tips to help you prevent injury.
Let’s get into it.
Why does a laptop hurt your wrists?
A combination of poor posture, and sitting with your arms in an unhelpful position, causes wrist pain over time. If you use a laptop regularly, you’re more prone to repetitive strain injuries, which could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome if you compress the nerves in your hands and wrists.
Laptops are narrow and flat. Great for portability, but when typing for an extended period of time, it can hold your shoulders, arms, and wrists at cramped, restrictive angles.
Additionally, you might find you press your wrists into the laptop surface to balance it on your lap or slouch forward when sitting at a desk to view the screen properly.
How to prevent pain when typing on a laptop
Don’t forego your laptop entirely! You can adjust how you use your laptop so that typing is more comfortable and less likely to cause injury in the future.
Avoid planting your wrists
Pushing your wrists into the surface of the laptop to keep it steady on your lap puts pressure on your wrist joints and nerves. Over time, this can lead to damage. To avoid it, it’s quite simple; resist the urge to plant your wrists down when typing!
Instead, move your whole arm when typing, instead of flexing your hands or fingers to reach keys. The idea is to keep your hands and wrists as relaxed as possible and avoid excessive wrist flexion and extension (the movement of your wrists up and down) and radial and ulnar deviation (the movement of your wrist from side to side).
Maintaining a good posture can help. This means sitting with your back straight, shoulders back, and arms parallel to the laptop’s keyboard. This relaxes your wrists and hands, helping you type more comfortably.
Perhaps you’ve purchased wrist rests, only to find your wrists still hurt. This is commonly down to user error, as the gel or foam padded wrist rests work best when you use them in between typing, and not while you’re moving your hand across the keys.
If you were to keep your wrists pressed down on the rests during typing sessions, you’d create a similar pressure in your joints and an unnatural angle that comes with a bad posture.
Instead, elevate your hands and keep them mobile over the keyboard when typing, and use the cushion to rest your wrists on when you’re not typing.
Avoid using your laptop on your lap
Laptops might have ‘lap’ in their name, but they’re not really designed for resting against your thighs while typing. Doing so creates a rounded back and cramped arm position, leading to wrist pain.
When possible, sit at a desk so you can hold your arms at a more comfortable angle and minimize slouching.
If you find your chair is too high, use a footrest to keep your posture straight. If your office chair features armrests, adjust them if possible so that you avoid resting your elbows on them when typing.
Use an external keyboard and mouse
The problem with laptops, although they’re convenient, is that when the monitor is positioned at the correct height (eye level with the top of the monitor) the keyboard is far too high to type on comfortably. You end up angling your hands at an unnatural angle which makes for sore wrists.
To reduce wrist pain while keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed, invest in an ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse that you can plug into your laptop. Doing so means that your hands will remain at a natural angle and you won’t feel as restricted as with a linear, narrow laptop keyboard.
Take regular breaks from typing
If you find your wrists hurt when typing on a laptop for hours on end, day after day, chances are the repetitive motion is causing injury to the joints.
It’s vital, just like with moving your body after sitting for long periods of time, that you step away and take breaks from typing. Our bodies aren’t designed to perform the same tasks repeatedly without rest. Aim for five minutes every half hour, even if you don’t feel any discomfort. It’s difficult to remember to take breaks when you’re in a state of flow; you can download an app or browser extension to help remind you.
How can a Goldtouch keyboard prevent wrist pain?
At Goldtouch, we believe that an ergonomic keyboard should fit the person using it, not force the user to conform to the keyboard.
Our adjustable keyboards are designed to combat wrist pain for a more comfortable typing experience. The typical flat profile of a laptop keyboard can lead to injuries and soreness because our hands and wrists don’t naturally sit at that angle. Our keyboards are fully adjustable vertically and horizontally, matching your personal comfort level.
You can ‘splay’ the keyboard horizontally to suit your shoulder width and hand position, and tent the keyboard vertically from 0-30 degrees to release the tension in your wrist.