geekhack Community > Ergonomics

Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?

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pmdbt:
Hey guys, I wanted to ask to see if someone who has been typing on an Alice layout for a long time actually finds the layout more ergonomical? My wrists used to hurt a lot typing all day on normal layout boards until I switched to split layouts. I've been typing on an Alice layout for a few weeks now, but my wrists seem to be acting up again, so I'm curious what experiences other people have had with that layout.

nevin:
hand separation is key.
staggered or ortho is up to you.

alice.... minimal separation but angled to compensate....

Findecanor:
[Disclaimer: I've not used it much] The thing is that a keyboard that fits some people may not necessarily fit others.
We are shaped differently and have different typing styles, typing postures, and different problems.
Thus, while the Alice layout may be great for some users, it may not necessarily be great for you and only you can figure that out.

There are two major ways that wrists can be angled unnaturally on a traditional keyboard.
Ulnar deviation: Rotating the wrist outward. (especially the left wrist)
Forearm pronation: Holding the wrists rotated too flatly against the desk.

The Alice layout can help some with avoiding the first point, but it helps nobody with the other. If forearm pronation is what affects you more then you'd be better helped with a keyboard that is "tented", i.e. having the left and side halves leaning sideways to form a "tent" shape.
You'd might want to check out the Type-K, which will have the Alice layout and 7 tenting. (I think the Microsoft Natural series had 8, but maybe varied)
Edit: There are DIY options Slice. and BuzzSaw.

Unfortunately the keyboard enthusiast community can be a bit opinionated at times.. Some "purists" might yell that the Alice (or even the Type-K) would not be ergo at all because it is not split into two pieces - and therefore not adjustable to fit everyone. Others might yell at you to get a columnar or ortholinear ("ortho") keyboard (because that is what they use) but I think those would require more tenting to avoid forearm pronation than with staggered keyboards.

nevin:
thanks for the great explanation @Findecanor.

yes, finding what works for you is definitely a personal & individual decision.

true splits have a little more flexibility/options in positioning them than a one piece board. though i do miss the portability of a single piece board.

jacobolus:

--- Quote from: Findecanor on Mon, 04 January 2021, 13:39:37 ---There are two major ways that wrists can be angled unnaturally on a traditional keyboard.
Ulnar deviation: Rotating the wrist outward. (especially the left wrist)
Forearm pronation: Holding the wrists rotated too flatly against the desk.

--- End quote ---
Nitpick: these are uncomfortable wrist motions #3 and #4

The worst two types of wrist motion are flexion and extension, i.e. bending the wrist down or up, respectively. Fortunately these can be avoided on any keyboard; unfortunately they often are not in practice.


--- Quote ---The Alice layout can help some with avoiding [ulnar deviation], but it helps nobody with [forearm pronation].
--- End quote ---
This is not quite the whole story.

There are a lot of degrees of freedom between moving/orienting keyboard and torso; and rotating shoulders, elbows, wrists, and finger joints. Static (i.e. sustained) muscle strain of one type gets traded off against static stress of another type, as people adjust to find the most comfortable position they can. Splitting the hands slightly, turning them a bit, and bringing them closer to the body definitely has the potential to reduce pronation slightly. But it is going to depend on how the typist changes their posture.

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