Author Topic: Starting feeling little pain in hands.. Which ergonomics should I choose?  (Read 4458 times)

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Offline akaibukai

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
Hi everyone,

I'm starting to fell some little? pain in my hands when typing..
And without typing for so long..
As shown in the following picture I feel mainly some pain in the pinkies and the rings and the ulna (the outer side of the beginning of my forearm)


The thicker circles, the painfuller

I think that in my case it's more about reaching distance keys with my pinkies (left side: modifiers keys, right side: punctuation symbols, modifiers and arrows).
And I feel equal pain on both hands regardless of some statistics about one side used more than the other..

So I'll officially start a build process..
From now on it's a health issue, I will have the required budget :thumb:
But I don't know yet in which form should I go..

I'm pretty sure to go with some kind of ortholinear..

And I'm also leaning towards usage of modifier keys instead of keys increase (unless increasing keys inwards reached by indexes)
The SpaceFn and GuiFn topics are great..
So I think that only Four rows (instead of the 6) could be enough..

Regarding my arms position, I'm not sure how to decide about the overall layout (tilted? split?, standard?).
I thought that split and tilted keyboards was THE way to go, but I'm wondering why there are so many (great) builds that have still a scattered standard flat layout??
Any though about that?
I mean, I understand that there are many great keyboard over there that kept the standard layout (for commercial purpose)..
But since building a custom one, why one don't want to go ergonomic?

Any keyboard examples, guides, help, thoughts, whatever are welcome!
Thank you very much..

Offline Findecanor

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What keyboard are you using now?  Myself I have got pain in my finger joints only from full-travel rubber domes: some Dell keyboard and from Topre.

If you touch-type, going columnar makes more difference than if you tend to move your hands around a lot.

For the wrists: tenting and not having your desk too high. Your forearms should be horizontal and your wrists straight.

Separation between halves is more for the shoulders than for the wrists.
Smoking is assault. I defend myself.
Daily driver: Phantom (Lubed Cherry MX Clear, Lasered Cherry PBT keycaps with Row A. Plastic "Frankencase". Custom firmware, Swedish layout)

Offline grimmold

  • Posts: 8
A few points:

1. You don't need a $300 keyboard for more comfort. I'm using a $35 or so Periboard-512 (https://www.amazon.com/Perixx-PERIBOARD-512-Ergonomic-Split-Keyboard/dp/B075GZVD4T) at the moment while I wait for the opportunity to hopefully make the "perfect" board; but in the meantime, this is just fine and I'm decently comfortable. When I go back to standard, non-split keyboards, it's very noticeable in my wrists.

2. Don't underestimate layouts. I use the Norman layout and one of the design criteria of the layout was limited pinky load. Norman is criticized for having worse efficiency metrics than other layouts, but having gotten up to at least 50 wpm with both Colemak Mod-DH and Dvorak, in my experience, the price of alleged efficiency is discomfort. I liked Dvorak much more than Colemak Mod-DH, but when I got up to a decent speed, I began noticing nerve pain in my right pinky ("L" in Dvorak is where "P" is in Qwerty. Note that I broke my right pinky when I was a kid and it apparently never fully recovered), so I switched back to Norman immediately and was amazed by how comfortable it is in comparison to both of them. Some people may claim that layouts aren't very important, but based on my experience, you should ignore them.

Please note that this isn't a complete recommendation of Norman. You'll want to assess a layout's design philosophy/criteria and see how you feel about it. Also, I recommend getting up to at least 50 wpm when learning a new layout, since that's the beginning of "fluency", in my opinion and experience, and you won't really know how a layout actually feels before then. Don't be afraid to try out several of them. Download Amphetype or Klavaro (or whatever. I've used them and can recommend them. Amphetype is the best, in my opinion) and have fun!

3. To help alleviate pinky pain while you wait to locate/build your perfect keyboard, you might consider trying something like this, especially if you use an ISO keyboard:

https://colemakmods.github.io/mod-dh/gfx/mod_dh_keyb_iso_wide.png

https://colemakmods.github.io/mod-dh/gfx/mod_dh_keyb_ansi.png

It'll get you one key closer to enter and backspace with your right pinky which could potentially help a lot. Also, you might want to remap backspace to caps lock, which is really easy in Linux (saw that you use Linux in your other thread. To spare you having to maybe look it up, just use "-option caps:backspace" with setxkbmap). When typing heavily and using the standard backspace position when I was learning Norman and making all sorts of mistakes, it hurt my pinky, so it can potentially do damage. Besides that, you already pointed out some things to make hotkeys easier which would obviously be very smart if you have left pinky pain.

Good luck, and I hope you'll achieve a very comfortable computing environment. :- ]

P.S. First post. Hi, GH. :- ]

Offline tp4tissue

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A high tenting angle will fix all of that..

don't bother with a flat fixed keyboard, they won't do anything for the wrist.

Offline akaibukai

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9
What keyboard are you using now?  Myself I have got pain in my finger joints only from full-travel rubber domes: some Dell keyboard and from Topre.

If you touch-type, going columnar makes more difference than if you tend to move your hands around a lot.

For the wrists: tenting and not having your desk too high. Your forearms should be horizontal and your wrists straight.

Separation between halves is more for the shoulders than for the wrists.

I'm using two mechanical keyboards, alternating depending on the household cleaning :))
  • Cooler Master Quick Fire TK with Brown Switches
  • Cooler Master Novatouch TKL with Topre
But I'm using the Brown Switches from some weeks now.. I don't remember how it was with the Topre...
I will try with it, now I'm feeling some inconvenience..

And yes I'm pretty sure that tenting will make the difference.. But I guess that having tilted keyboard is easier when it is split..
And having split keyboard will allow my arms to be parallel which seems also more comfortable..

A few points:

1. You don't need a $300 keyboard for more comfort. I'm using a $35 or so Periboard-512 (https://www.amazon.com/Perixx-PERIBOARD-512-Ergonomic-Split-Keyboard/dp/B075GZVD4T) at the moment while I wait for the opportunity to hopefully make the "perfect" board; but in the meantime, this is just fine and I'm decently comfortable. When I go back to standard, non-split keyboards, it's very noticeable in my wrists.

2. Don't underestimate layouts. I use the Norman layout and one of the design criteria of the layout was limited pinky load. Norman is criticized for having worse efficiency metrics than other layouts, but having gotten up to at least 50 wpm with both Colemak Mod-DH and Dvorak, in my experience, the price of alleged efficiency is discomfort. I liked Dvorak much more than Colemak Mod-DH, but when I got up to a decent speed, I began noticing nerve pain in my right pinky ("L" in Dvorak is where "P" is in Qwerty. Note that I broke my right pinky when I was a kid and it apparently never fully recovered), so I switched back to Norman immediately and was amazed by how comfortable it is in comparison to both of them. Some people may claim that layouts aren't very important, but based on my experience, you should ignore them.

Please note that this isn't a complete recommendation of Norman. You'll want to assess a layout's design philosophy/criteria and see how you feel about it. Also, I recommend getting up to at least 50 wpm when learning a new layout, since that's the beginning of "fluency", in my opinion and experience, and you won't really know how a layout actually feels before then. Don't be afraid to try out several of them. Download Amphetype or Klavaro (or whatever. I've used them and can recommend them. Amphetype is the best, in my opinion) and have fun!

3. To help alleviate pinky pain while you wait to locate/build your perfect keyboard, you might consider trying something like this, especially if you use an ISO keyboard:

https://colemakmods.github.io/mod-dh/gfx/mod_dh_keyb_iso_wide.png

https://colemakmods.github.io/mod-dh/gfx/mod_dh_keyb_ansi.png

It'll get you one key closer to enter and backspace with your right pinky which could potentially help a lot. Also, you might want to remap backspace to caps lock, which is really easy in Linux (saw that you use Linux in your other thread. To spare you having to maybe look it up, just use "-option caps:backspace" with setxkbmap). When typing heavily and using the standard backspace position when I was learning Norman and making all sorts of mistakes, it hurt my pinky, so it can potentially do damage. Besides that, you already pointed out some things to make hotkeys easier which would obviously be very smart if you have left pinky pain.

Good luck, and I hope you'll achieve a very comfortable computing environment. :- ]

P.S. First post. Hi, GH. :- ]

1. Yes I guess that one can easily have good habits and decent comfort with entry level keyboard..
Before the mechanical one, I'm used to have the Perixx PERIBOARD-506..
But I really think that the keyboard is THE most important tool someone that use a computer on a daily basis should have!
So I won't do the math for that..
But since I was graduated in EE with a minor in Mechanics, it will be a nonsense if I don't made my own!
Plus, I have some really great improvements idea related to electronics.. ;)

2. I'm using azerty (maybe the worst layout around there for programming :confused:) but I started a process to remap all the symbols in one key stroke and het rid off all unnecessary glyphs (or at least made them available with modifier).
But I agree that the layout is really important.. For example, I started to test a mapping where I mapped all control keys (backspace, delete, enter, arrows) around the home row when using a modifier key.. And indeed it seems better..
I need some adjustment with xkb since I'm tweaking since less a day ;D

I thought many times about definitely switching to an alternative layout like dvorak (or bepo for french) or colemak but I never decided.. So I sticked with azerty..
I never tried some sessions in those different layout because I don't think that testing a layout a moment cannot bring me enough visibility to check for the efficiency (I mean more the comfort efficiency than the speed).

But in order to get rid off my pain I think that a good position among touch typing will be enough..
I'm not really concerned about speed efficiency. I'm not a writer after all..

3. Yep I'm using an ISO keyboard and already mapped the caps to escape..
But as I said I'm trying some stuffs by setting the space as a modifier.. I think that going this way feels good..

P.S. Yeah! GH is a great community (myself I am more a ghost user though)


A high tenting angle will fix all of that..

don't bother with a flat fixed keyboard, they won't do anything for the wrist.


Yep, when I want to rest I rotate my hands as if I'm using a tilted keyboard and it feels good.
But now I'm more concerned about my pinkies that start to show some inconveniences and I'm afraid that this would become worse.

Offline grimmold

  • Posts: 8
But I really think that the keyboard is THE most important tool someone that use a computer on a daily basis should have!
So I won't do the math for that..
But since I was graduated in EE with a minor in Mechanics, it will be a nonsense if I don't made my own!
Plus, I have some really great improvements idea related to electronics.. ;)

I agree wholeheartedly, but someone potentially inflicting injury to themselves while saving money for the "perfect" keyboard wouldn't be wise (sorry for pointing out the obvious).

As for builds, an interesting question is which thumb muscle "paradigm" to use. There are two: the standard "hammer on the spacebar" paradigm, and the "trigger" paradigm. Here are some examples of each:

Hammer: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62848.msg1522722#msg1522722
Trigger: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=49721.msg1117343#msg1117343
Both: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=46015.0

Contracting the thumb for triggering space all the time is out of the question ergonomically, in my opinion, though for modifiers the added control of trigger buttons could be nice. Then again, I think unnecessary contracting of muscles should probably be avoided entirely. As for column stagger and general layout, I'd copy some layouts you see around with some loose keycaps on your desk to see how they feel and go from there.

Quote
2. I'm using azerty (maybe the worst layout around there for programming :confused:) but I started a process to remap all the symbols in one key stroke and het rid off all unnecessary glyphs (or at least made them available with modifier).
But I agree that the layout is really important.. For example, I started to test a mapping where I mapped all control keys (backspace, delete, enter, arrows) around the home row when using a modifier key.. And indeed it seems better..
I need some adjustment with xkb since I'm tweaking since less a day ;D

Using SpaceFN? Sounds promising.

Quote
I thought many times about definitely switching to an alternative layout like dvorak (or bepo for french) or colemak but I never decided.. So I sticked with azerty..
I never tried some sessions in those different layout because I don't think that testing a layout a moment cannot bring me enough visibility to check for the efficiency (I mean more the comfort efficiency than the speed).

But in order to get rid off my pain I think that a good position among touch typing will be enough..
I'm not really concerned about speed efficiency. I'm not a writer after all..

With pain involved, I think a switch of layouts is necessary, since an optimized layout should drop the effort required by about 1/2. I think you might be surprised as to how easy it is to learn a new layout, with practice.

Offline vatin

  • Posts: 162
  • Location: Bangkok, Thailand
I personally recommend the Kinesis Advantage 2. It should be much more friendly to your hands and fingers and being more efficient too.
Kinesis Advantage 2 with MX Red

Offline grimmold

  • Posts: 8
As for column stagger and general layout, I'd copy some layouts you see around with some loose keycaps on your desk to see how they feel and go from there.

Or if you, like me, have a rubber dome keyboard with long-stemmed keycaps that don't really allow for this, then maybe drawing/printing a layout on paper would suffice. :- P (Forgot about that...)

Offline hoggy

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Have you seen a doctor?

GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline Koren

  • Posts: 133
  • Location: France
Probably a good advice...

2. I'm using azerty (maybe the worst layout around there for programming :confused:)
It's bad, all right, but it depends on *which* AZERTY. I found the belgian variant(s) better, I've imported some keyboards/laptops because of this.

and get rid off all unnecessary glyphs
There is such things? :)

Well, I grant you §, and £ don't see much use either, like the currency glyph... But that doesn't makes much room, and there's plently that I miss on normal azerty, like œ, «», dead-acute, etc.

or bepo for french
Not fond of Bépo, and if you're coding, it's maybe worse than some AZERTY...


As for column stagger and general layout, I'd copy some layouts you see around with some loose keycaps on your desk to see how they feel and go from there.

Or if you, like me, have a rubber dome keyboard with long-stemmed keycaps that don't really allow for this, then maybe drawing/printing a layout on paper would suffice. :- P (Forgot about that...)
I've used Legos myself... a 2x2 tile is really close to a key, 2.5 studs is really close to normal inter-key distance, and you can position keys with at least 4mm precision in X-Y (more with tricks) and 3mm in Z. I'll post my Ergodox variant current experiment if people are curious...

Offline grimmold

  • Posts: 8
I've used Legos myself... a 2x2 tile is really close to a key, 2.5 studs is really close to normal inter-key distance, and you can position keys with at least 4mm precision in X-Y (more with tricks) and 3mm in Z. I'll post my Ergodox variant current experiment if people are curious...

I don't have any Legos anymore, but that sounds like it could be useful for somebody. Let's see it. :- ]

Offline hoggy

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If you're set on an ortholinear, you might want to go for a split solution that you could tent and splay later.  Also, given that your little fingers are giving you trouble, you could look at thumb modifiers.
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline akaibukai

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 9

I agree wholeheartedly, but someone potentially inflicting injury to themselves while saving money for the "perfect" keyboard wouldn't be wise (sorry for pointing out the obvious).
Indeed! This is why I'm comparing some "commercial" keyboards (either ready to use or in DIY kit)..
However, ironically, ready to use commercial keyboards are hard to find here in EU (at least in France and at a decent price)..
So I'm rather thinking about DIY kites..
I wanted to buy the keyboard.io but regarding the price (which is about 320€) and the shipment (I don't know if it could be shipped soon) I'm not sure. Especially since I'm also afraid about extra customs fee+VAT..
There is also the ergodox from ergodox.ez which is at 305€ including shipping from taiwan (no idea about the delay though) and with all the tilt and wrest accessories..
And at last I also check about the diverge 3 (180€ including shipping with kalih switches and without leds or 220€ with leds and cherry mx switches) -about the leds, I wonder if I could put sdandards leds it will cost me 3$ instead od 20$- -also I don't know if thecherry switches worth the extra 20usd?-

Do ya have any recommandation?
Regarding the price I'm thinking about going with the diverge..
But I'm also thinking about firmware upgrade/update possibilities.. Which one could have better support?

Have you seen a doctor?
Hmm.. Not yey.. I'm more a "it'll pass in a couple of days" guy...

I'd copy some layouts you see around with some loose keycaps on your desk to see how they feel and go from there.


Or if you, like me, have a rubber dome keyboard with long-stemmed keycaps that don't really allow for this, then maybe drawing/printing a layout on paper would suffice. :- P (Forgot about that...)
Great idea.. Any idea about where I can find ergodox (or alternatives) layout in pdf so that I can print them out in real scale, in order to test the fit?

If you're set on an ortholinear, you might want to go for a split solution that you could tent and splay later.  Also, given that your little fingers are giving you trouble, you could look at thumb modifiers.

Yes, this is what I wants...
In the meantime I try to change my keyboard layout in order to use my spacebar as a modifier..
Now I'am able to use it as a AltGr replacement and I mapped almost all the symbols and some controls (enter, delete, backspace, move arrows)around the homerow..
Sounds promising but I'm still stuck to customize some details.. If interested..

Offline SmilingPolitely

  • Posts: 24
I'd probably also consider investing in an ergonomic mouse. Had some issues with my right hand/arm as well that weren't alleviated by just an ergonomic keyboard.

I've been using an Evoluent with good results.

Offline tp4tissue

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I'd probably also consider investing in an ergonomic mouse. Had some issues with my right hand/arm as well that weren't alleviated by just an ergonomic keyboard.

I've been using an Evoluent with good results.

Build Ergopwn 9000 in my sig..

Offline SmilingPolitely

  • Posts: 24
I'd probably also consider investing in an ergonomic mouse. Had some issues with my right hand/arm as well that weren't alleviated by just an ergonomic keyboard.

I've been using an Evoluent with good results.

Build Ergopwn 9000 in my sig..
My fault. Would’ve seen it on my desktop, but Tapatalk hides sigs... >.<

Offline tp4tissue

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I'd probably also consider investing in an ergonomic mouse. Had some issues with my right hand/arm as well that weren't alleviated by just an ergonomic keyboard.

I've been using an Evoluent with good results.

Build Ergopwn 9000 in my sig..
My fault. Would’ve seen it on my desktop, but Tapatalk hides sigs... >.<

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=83697.0

Offline SmilingPolitely

  • Posts: 24
I'd probably also consider investing in an ergonomic mouse. Had some issues with my right hand/arm as well that weren't alleviated by just an ergonomic keyboard.

I've been using an Evoluent with good results.

Build Ergopwn 9000 in my sig..
My fault. Would’ve seen it on my desktop, but Tapatalk hides sigs... >.<

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=83697.0
I just read that thread. I wish there was a retail option for what you’ve put together. I’ve tried numerous “ergonomic” mice that take half-measures before finally settling on the Evoluent.

You’re right that the shape is the best, but the guts leave something to be desired. Wish more companies would explore vertical mice. I absolutely cannot return to a standard mouse. My forearm can’t take it.

Offline tp4tissue

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I just read that thread. I wish there was a retail option for what you’ve put together. I’ve tried numerous “ergonomic” mice that take half-measures before finally settling on the Evoluent.

You’re right that the shape is the best, but the guts leave something to be desired. Wish more companies would explore vertical mice. I absolutely cannot return to a standard mouse. My forearm can’t take it.

Well, you can build one today,  Out of the G-Pro logitech PCB.

It's alot easier to do it now, because you wouldn't need to splice a usb hub in there.

You just need the Gpro pcb now, because it uses a mechanical encoder which works perfectly with the nanokk.


nanokk isn't sold on ebay anymore i think, so you can get it on aliexpress.