The Proper Computer Keyboard Height
By Noel Shankel
Those who type for a living, or those who spend numerous hours in front of their computer, should always keep their posture and wrist placement in mind. Working long hours on a computer will cause muscles to tighten, eyes to strain and backs to stiffen. While a properly placed keyboard cannot fix all of these issues, it may be able to ease the burden of some.
Computer keyboards must be positioned in a manner that encourages a neutral body position. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a neutral body position will prevent workers from developing a musculoskeletal disorder, also known as MSD. To achieve a neutral body position while using a keyboard, make sure your wrists, hands, and forearms are parallel to the floor and straight. Your head should be in line with your torso and slightly bent forward. Shoulders should be relaxed. Upper arms should be able to hang naturally against the side of your body. The knees should be at the same height as your hips, and your feet should be positioned slightly forward. Elbows should remain tight to the body, and should bend between 90 and 120 degrees. Adjust the height of your computer keyboard to best achieve this neutral body position.
Too High Vs. Too Low
Always make sure the computer keyboard is not positioned too high or too low. Keyboards that are positioned too high will cause you to reach, placing strain on your shoulders and arms. Keyboards that are positioned too low cause the worker to bend her wrists upright. Working in these positions will result in wrist, hand and shoulder discomfort, which can worsen over time.
Workers who cannot achieve a relaxed typing position using a traditional keyboard should consider an alternative keyboard. Tented keyboards split in the middle. The two halves of the keyboard can then be tilted upward, creating a tent-like appearance. This will raise the height of the keyboard itself and reduce the rotation rate of the forearms. If the tented keyboard is too high, the halves can be placed back together to create a traditional keyboard.
If the keyboard itself cannot be lowered or raised, adjust the height of your chair to achieve a neutral body position. If the work desk is too high for the keyboard, invest in a keyboard tray that can slide under the work desk. If possible, position your keyboard on a negative slope so that the keys closest to you are lower, and the keys farthest are raised. This will create a more natural typing position for your wrists and hands.
Based in California, Noel Shankel has been writing and directing since 2002. His work has been published in "Law of Inertia Magazine." Shankel has a Bachelor of Arts in film and writing from San Francisco State University.