Let’s Get Mechanical

Like most people who work at a computer all day, I have some repetitive strain injury (RSI) issues. Using a vertical mouse was a great step towards lessening the pain. As was working these muscles in a different way by playing guitar. But my keyboard has still been a pain point.

Up until recently I had been using a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard. It’s the classic keyboard you think of when you think “ergonomic keyboard,” it’s the one with the hump in the middle. I didn’t love it. It was fragile (the slightest bit of liquid fried it), and the keys felt mushy. And the more I used it, the more effort it felt like it took to hit each key stroke.

When I was reading a Lifehacker article about mechanical keyboards and saw it mentioned people were reporting reduction of their RSI symptoms with one. It didn’t make any sense to me. Afterall, a mechanical keyboard doesn’t put your hands into any sort of neutral position. And you’re still doing the same movement. How could it help? But, when my home keyboard died I figured I didn’t have much to lose and decided to give mechanical keyboards a try.

ron-swanson-typewriterI ordered a $50 Monoprice Select Blue Switch keyboard (affiliate link), and loved it. The keys felt responsive. And the clicky sound was kind of fun. I felt like Ron Swanson with his typewriter. A few months later I ordered one for the office. Some of my coworkers already had mechanical keyboards, so I didn’t have to worry about being too loud. Or at least any louder than anyone else.

I’ve been using a mechanical keyboard full-time for about six months, and I’m not looking back. It surprisingly does reduce my RSI symptoms, an attribute I credit to not having to hit the keys as hard. I haven’t noticed any degrading of performance either. I highly recommend you try one out if you’re not happy with your current keyboard.

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