How to Hold a Computer Mouse

If you spend hours in front of your computer each day, knowing how to properly hold a mouse truly matters, primarily for your health.

Keeping any part of your body in the same position and doing repetitive movements, however minor, puts that body part at risk of injury. The same goes for holding and operating a computer mouse.

The most common computer mouse-related injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Common symptoms are hand weakness, numbness, tingling, or a reduced degree of movement.

Although holding a computer mouse seems intuitive, you’re probably doing it wrong. So, to help you avoid this injury, we have some tips on using a computer mouse correctly.

Mouse Choice

Holding a mouse properly begins with the type of mouse you have. For example, a mouse too small for your hand leads to tension in your fingers as you try to grip the mouse with your palm. On the flip side, a too-big mouse can lead to overextension of your fingers because you can’t correctly reach all buttons. 

Luckily, computer mouse devices come in various sizes, and you can measure your palm and compare its size to the mouse you want to use. The ideal computer mouse size is when your thumb can reach all the buttons on the side, and your pointer and middle finger should be comfortably seated on the left and right-click buttons. The palm should also be fully supported.

Either way, frequent use will have drawbacks, even if you find the seemingly perfect mouse. That’s why your best option would be a mouse with ergonomic features. Ergonomic mouse devices are designed to support your hand in an ideal position that won’t cause pain or repetitive stress injury — the handshake position. 

Mouse Position

When was the last time you checked the position of your mouse relative to your keyboard and your chair? If the mouse is too far, you may be extending your arm unnecessarily and thus straining your tendons and muscles. If the mouse is too close, your shoulder might be unnecessarily stiff. 

The optimal position for your mouse is where you can bend your elbow by 90 degrees and comfortably rest your arm on the tabletop. Try lifting your wrist off the table and navigating the mouse with the whole arm as often as possible to avoid straining your wrist nerves.

Additionally, the mouse shouldn’t be too far from the keyboard to avoid an awkward position between the forearm and upper arm.

Mouse Grip

As mentioned above, although holding a mouse seems quite intuitive, you’re probably doing it wrong. There are three main “mouse grips,” or more simply, ways to control your mouse:

  • Fingertip mouse grip: this type of grip is common among large-handed people. The fingertips usually rest on the mouse, but the palm does not. This results in added pressure on the finger joints.
  • Claw mouse grip: if your hand is forming an arch due to your knuckles being positioned higher than the palm, you have a claw grip. This results in a stiff wrist and might lead to pain and repetitive strain, which puts you at risk of developing long-term dysfunction.
  • Palm mouse grip: this is the most frequent type of grip and refers to holding your fingers and hand flat over the mouse. This grip is generally fine if you stick to our other suggestions regarding posture and distance.

Ultimately, none of these three grips is better than the other. Whichever type of grip you prefer, make sure that you follow these key points:

  • The mouse should be positioned at a comfortable distance from your body and from the keyboard, allowing you to maintain a 90 degrees angle on your elbow.
  • The grip shouldn’t be too tight, and you shouldn’t create added pressure on your finger knuckles. The hand should feel in a “neutral” position while holding the mouse.
  • When navigating the mouse, move your arm instead of the wrist.
  • Avoid unnecessary movements by adjusting the mouse settings (cursor speed, double-click speed) to your comfort.
  • Take regular breaks, get up from the chair, and stretch.

Mouse Movement

Our wrists have a lot of blood vessels, nerves, and tendons, and improper holding and operating a mouse can lead to inflammation, pain, and injury. One of the most damaging motions for the wrists is the so-called “windshield movement,” a.k.a pushing your mouse diagonally from the wrist. Deviation to the right is called “ulnar,” and the deviation to the left is called “radial.”

To avoid them, try to use the mouse more from the forearm instead of the wrist.

Or, increase the sensitivity of your mouse so that smaller movements of the mouse make the mouse cursor travel the same distance that the previously required larger movement.

Furthermore, learning how to move the mouse from the elbow or with the whole arm and taking frequent breaks to exercise the hands and wrists can reduce the negative consequences of the occasional windshield movements.

Finally, switching to a trackball mouse that doesn’t involve the wrist can free you from windshield movements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am Using a Computer Mouse Correctly?

The correct use of a computer mouse allows you to reduce the pressure from your fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders. The best way to hold a computer mouse is in the handshake position, which most ergonomic computer mice support.

Keep the arm bent at 90 degrees at the elbow and let the forearm rest comfortably on the desk.

Avoid the windshield movement from the wrist, and try to use the elbow more.

To properly use the mouse, it should fit the size of your hand and let your palm and fingers rest in their natural positions. 

How Should You Hold Your Mouse When Gaming?

Most gamers use the palm type of grip where the palm and fingertips lie flat over the mouse.

However, for gaming, the mouse should have the right size and weight, so you should try out different models until you find the one that makes your hand feel most comfortable. 

Also, adjust the controls of the mouse (double click speed and movement sensitivity) to avoid unnecessary movements and tension. The fingers should be able to rest on the buttons, and the thumb should be able to reach any side buttons or sliders on the mouse.

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