Repetitive motion syndrome (RMS) is not new—it’s been around for centuries and why Ergonomic Peripherals exists. Before there was League of Candy Crush, Legends, and Bejeweled, there were factories, and before that assembly lines where workers engaged in cyclic jobs, six days per week, sometimes for more than 16 hours a day. And before those factories of the Age of Industrialization, farmers and city laborers engaged in repetitive tasks for as long as the light would hold out: digging trenches, scribing ledgers, shucking corn.
And you think you have it rough?
It’s axiomatic that should you repeat any physical job ceaselessly that body region gets overused and injured. Among the quickest-spread occupational injuries, CTS saw its genesis in the typing pools that surfaced in the first decade of the 20th century. Similar harms and CTS expanded by leaps when computers became common for both work and play.
Frequent computer keyboard use was poor enough, but the problem has aggravated in its pair of ways. Where keyboards caused repetitive strain from a somewhat rigid position, mice can trigger this in other, less apparent ways. Stress on the arm is one aspect. Afterward there’s a host of tendon- and nerve-afflicting issues caused by physical attributes about the more “complex” kinds of mousing devices we so enjoy for work and play. Orthopedic surgeons never had it so good.
The silver lining in this gloom is that the absolute cost of the harms—in relation to pain, time off, operation, and healing prices — has awakened a general public knowledge of computing and ergonomic peripherals. Standing desks are an option in the offices of some educated employers; provisioning people with cozy peripherals falls under the HR department at some firms, not the IT section. And while this relative awakening hasn’t resulted in the average man comprehending the differences between their proximal phalanges and their gluteus maximus, it’s raised the level of concern high enough to engage the focus of peripherals manufacturers. The result has been many interesting tips to enhance mice ergonomically, from subtle changes of shape, from physical design to software features to complete makeovers.
Make no mistake: mouse overuse can still cause damage in the long run. But carefully considering the ergonomic advantages offered by a mouse may lead to an informed purchase—and in turn, to fewer difficulties collecting over time.
Some mice are radical departures from the norm in the interest of ergonomic advantage; others work in smart layout elements but appear mostly traditional. Here’s how to evaluate them all, but especially the latter.