What is a Keyboard Wrist Rest?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A keyboard wrist rest is a device which is designed to provide support for the wrists and arms during typing breaks. Theoretically, using a keyboard wrist rest reduces the risk of developing repetitive stress injuries and related conditions, although it is important to use the wrist rest properly. Some keyboard trays come with built-in wrist rests, and it is also possible to buy this accessory as a standalone item. In addition to wrist rests for keyboards, ergonomics accessory companies also manufacture mouse wrist rests.

The base of a laptop's keyboard usually has a space where users can rest their wrists.
The base of a laptop's keyboard usually has a space where users can rest their wrists.

Typically, a keyboard wrist rest is filled with a firm, but giving, material like gel. Ideally, it has rounded edges so that no sharp sides put pressure on the wrists and palms of the user, and the wrist rest is about the same height as the keyboard, with a shallow depth to ensure that the user does not extend his or her arms out from the body to reach over the wrist rest to the keyboard. At a shared desk, the wrist rest may be covered in a material which is easy to sanitize for health reasons.

Wrist rests are meant to be used when someone is not actually typing, and they are meant to be used for the palm and heel of the hand, not the wrist itself. While typing, people should have their hands above the keyboard, with the fingers striking down. Having the hands above also makes it easier to reach remote function keys on the keyboard. Despite the promotional catalog images of people typing with their wrists firmly planted on the keyboard wrist rest, this usage is not recommended.

Using a keyboard wrist rest can help someone keep his or her hands above the keyboard, because the rest provides a cue to keep the wrists up. During a typing break, the hands can be allowed to slide back so that the heel of the palm sits on the keyboard wrist rest, maintaining an ergonomically sound hand position while taking a break. When the typist is ready to resume, the hands can be lifted from the wrist rest and placed in the proper position for typing.

This keyboard accessory should be combined with other ergonomically-friendly measures. It is important to make sure that the keyboard is at the right height, and that the distance between the user and the monitor is appropriate. Making small adjustments to lighting, seating configuration, and so forth can also make a big comfort difference. Following ergonomic guidelines at a workstation can greatly reduce repetitive stress injuries and make people feel more comfortable at work.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Good for you guys, telling people the correct way to actually use a wrist pad. I hate it when I see all these people who have been brainwashed into thinking that they have to have their wrists on the pad when in reality that is just uncomfortable at best, and problematic for your joints at worst.

I try to tell the people in my office how even the best gel keyboard wrist rest is useless if you actually plant your wrists on it, but everyone just thinks I'm crazy...well, they won't after I show them this article!

Thanks wisegeek!


Is it really that important to get a computer keyboard wrist rest? I ask truly out of ignorance; I don't know anything about this ergonomic stuff, but it seems that everybody and his brother have got ergonomic keyboard wrist rests and mouse pads with gel rest and what not these days, so I wanted to know if it was really beneficial.

If you've already got good typing posture, will a keyboard wrist rest do you that much good, or are you fine as is? Or is it a personal thing, does it vary between people?

If anybody has got some reputable, source-backed information about this, I'm all ears.

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