Arranging your work area – Arm support and palm rest

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Arm supports and palm rest

Vary your posture
You may find that supports for your forearms or hands allow you to be more relaxed and comfortable.

Supporting your forearms
Some chairs provide padded areas for resting your arms. You may find it comfortable to support your forearms on these padded areas while typing, pointing, or pausing. If your work surface is deep enough, you also may find it comfortable to use your work surface as a support area (with your keyboard and monitor moved back to create a comfortable space for your forearms).

Chair or work surface forearm support is properly adjusted for typing when your shoulders are relaxed; each forearm is evenly supported and is still free to move while typing; and your wrists are in a comfortable, neutral position. The support is not adjusted properly if your shoulders are elevated or drooped; you feel pressure on one or both elbows; your elbows are extended out to your sides; your wrists, forearms, or elbows are anchored and fixed while typing; or your wrists are markedly bent.

Right
Forearm supports are properly adjusted when your shoulders are relaxed, your forearms are supported (yet free to move while typing), and your wrists are in a comfortable, neutral position.

Another option is to use forearm supports only when pausing, allowing your forearms and hands to float freely while typing and pointing. In this case, the support is properly adjusted when it is slightly below your forearm typing position but close and available for pauses (such as when you are reading from the screen). Experiment with the height of your arm supports to find which approach is most comfortable for you. Let the comfort of your neck, shoulders, elbows, arms and wrists be your guide.

Using a palm rest
A palm rest (sometimes called a wrist rest) is designed to provide support during pauses, not during typing or pointing. While typing or while using a pointing device, keep your wrists free to move and not anchored or resting on a palm rest, the work surface, or your thighs. Resting your palms while typing may be harmful because it can cause you to bend and hold your wrists and fingers back. It can also apply pressure to the underside of your wrists. Refer to the Forearms, Wrists, and Hands section.

Tips

For pauses only
Palm rests should only be used during pauses, when you are not typing or not using your pointing device.

Avoid!

Armrests should not cause you to:

  • Elevate or droop your shoulders.
  • Lean excessively onto one or both elbows.
  • Extend your elbows out to the sides.
  • Anchor your wrists, forearms, or elbows while typing.
  • Markedly bend your wrists.
  • Sit too far away from your keyboard or pointing device.