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After a much-needed hypermobility diagnosis, my chronic hand and wrist pain helped me realize I had to revamp my computer workspace if I wanted to keep writing. I loved my laptop for its portability, but the long hours typing on its flat keyboard left me struggling to finish writing projects without intense pain. My keyboard needed to change if I didn’t want my career to change.
My laptop’s keyboard had me curve my wrists at about a 45-degree angle to reach all the keys, and studies have shown that typing at angles may lead to long-term damage. For me, typing at any angle meant I unnecessarily pressured my joints. My diagnosis showed me that I was inadvertently forcing my tendons and muscles to work harder while typing, resulting in aches and pains in as little as a half an hour. I’m also not a fan of any mechanical keyboards — they’re too loud and bulky for my taste — and so I looked for a membrane switch keyboard, which I personally feel doesn’t require as much force to activate the switches.
My sister suggested the Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard, a split-keyboard design with a built-in wrist rest that she uses for her home working station. The ergonomic design convinced me to purchase it, as well as its membrane switches, which promised hours of quiet typing and required less pressure from my joints to activate the key switches.
Since I picked it up in April 2021, my Microsoft Sculpt keyboard helps ensure my finger tendons and joints remain in good health, as studies have also shown that long-term typing can cause damage in your finger joints in the long term and pain in the short term, too. With hypermobility, it’s not just the joints that require extra care — the tendons also are more prone to repetitive stress injuries. The Sculpt’s split design allows for ergonomic typing, so I’m not reaching for keys unnecessarily and causing further damage to my tendons and joints.
The membrane keys feel smooth and aren’t too noisy, and the accompanying tenkeypad and (optional) mouse set is separate so I can shift it anywhere in my home setup. And in the entire time I’ve used it since April 2021, I have yet to swap out the batteries.
Full disclosure: my wrist pain disappeared after I made this swap, though it wasn’t overnight. The Sculpt’s wrist rest slopes my wrists to a wholly natural angle so I can work without worry of both short-term and long-term damage to my wrists. My tendons aren’t putting in extra effort reaching for keys during my eight plus hours of daily computer use, most of that typing. The whole setup in general is a little bulky, accounting for the tenkey pad and the wrist rest, but its ergonomics allow me to sit in a more natural position during my work day and preserve my joints.
There are some limitations to this keyboard: Should I lose the dongle connecting my device to the laptop, for example, it’s impossible to replace — but the perks to using such a comfortable keyboard outweigh that minor risk for me, especially since it never leaves my desk.
It’s also not a catch-all for hypermobile folks like myself, but a tool to make typing easier for the long term. That being said and despite its design for an office setting, it’s so comfortable to use that I opt to use it for my gaming sessions — mechanical keyboards are geared toward gamers, unlike the Sculpt’s membrane switches.
Other ergonomic keyboards to consider
With the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reporting that 33 percent of its cases are related to muscular-skeletal disorders, you may find it important to put your ergonomics health first in your typing workspace. If the Microsoft Sculpt doesn’t seem like the best option for you, the good news is that there are plenty of keyboards out there to choose from.
If a set angle isn’t what you had in mind, this Kinesis option offers a wired split so you can angle your keys to your personal preference. It offers a few different tenting options to angle your wrists should you prefer one for your typing experience. Unlike the Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard, it also offers mechanical switches. Best of all, Mac users can use this keyboard since it is compatible with Apple computers.
If you’re a gamer who uses your keyboard for work purposes, you can also opt for the gaming model that provides the RGB backlight and comes in blue and red switch options.
For those who need a more comfortable wrist rest, you may want to consider the Logitech Ergo Wireless Keyboard. The wrist rest provides an extra thick layer of support for those with wrist pain. Keep in mind that the wrist rest cannot be detached from this keyboard, but it’s a high-quality rest. It’s also a membrane switch keyboard that’s similar to Microsoft Sculpt’s membrane switches.
Since it’s wireless with a 2.4GHz Bluetooth connectivity, you can expect the battery life to work for up to two years with a pair of AAA batteries.