Kinesis Freestyle keyboard – no more RSI

This entry was posted by on Monday, 7 February, 2011 at

In a period when I had to do a lot of keyboard work (which is basically always, come to think of it…) I was showing the first signs of Repetitive Strain Injury, or RSI in short. Getting a new keyboard solved the problems for me.

The pain primarily manifested in the left wrist when arching the hand to the left in order to perform typing. This is a very unnatural position, mind you. Even though I could still lift weight and do any normal activities, typing became a painful problem. So I did some research, asked around a bit and was advised to do a series of exercises, take regular rests and have a look at the way I work. That’s right, the way you hold your hands when typing!

I used to have a “broken” keyboard years ago (when keyboards still had those huge DIN plugs) and was quite fond of it. Unfortunately it died on me, and at work they gave me one of those ‘sleek design’ keyboards which was not really very ergonomic.

So I set out to find a “broken” keyboard. The first thing you come across is the microsoft natural keyboard, which I think is not a serious ergonomic improvement. I tried it and didn’t like it. Then there’s a Logitech (“Wave” it’s called I think) which is not a broken keyboard, but a bent one. Does not work for me, but your mileage may differ.

After reading some reviews I decided to order a Kinesis Freestyle Incline keyboard. It is slightly inclined. Not towards you like many traditional keyboards, but away, keeping the wrist in a straight line in the vertical pane. And the angle between the two “half keyboards” can be adjusted anywhere from 0 to 60 degrees, to fit your build. This is important, as the angle of your arms when the hands meet at the keyboard is largely determined by the width of your shoulders – wider means your wrists have to compensate more. An there’s your problem!

Kinesis Freestyle Incline keyboard

There is no numpad on the Freestyle, which I kind of miss, but the mouse is closer now which also seems to be an ergonomic improvement. There’s a couple of fast action keys to cut, copy, paste etc. which are handy shortcuts for CTRL-[key] combinations which usually put a lot of strain on the muscles. These are on the left, because usually, right-handed people tend to use their right hand more (duh) and this gives the left hand something to do. A load-balancing of sorts.

But what really matters is that I can type again, faster and longer than before! After the first day of increased productivity, the high price of this keyboard was already forgotten.

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