By and large, gamers put in more hours on the computer than any other tech-related activity, including the work world. Even programmers don’t match the hours some of the extreme gamers can hammer away on average.
However, all of that tapping, twitching and moving still produces a lot of the same ergonomic issues as the accountant in the office, which begs the question whether aids like wrist rests make sense for gamers or not.
Should I Get a Gaming Keyboard With a Wrist Rest?
There are a lot of marketing slogans and packages out there for tech equipment, including keyboards, that promise all sorts of benefits.
Ergonomic labeling is one of the biggest areas for packaging because it gives an impression that buying a particular keyboard or mouse will improve one’s physical wrist health when working on the computer for hours.
Unfortunately, most of all that marketing is smoke and mirrors.
The key factor that affects a keyboard and damage to one’s wrists via nerve-pinching is primarily the position of the forearms and the angle of the wrist when working on the keyboard.
A wrist rest in itself on a keyboard may actually cause more problems pushing the wrist to work at an angle that is not natural.
What really matters is where the forearms are resting in relation to the keyboard.
If level, the wrist rest could actually create a bump that the wrist and hand have to work over, which will cause problems.
Do I Need a Keyboard Wrist Rest?
There is no default answer for everyone playing PC games.
A lot depends on where the computer is setup, the desk height at sitting level, the arm rests on the chair, and the angle or level of the arm and hand to the keyboard.
Ideally, you want your arm to be as level as possible to the keyboard, eliminating any hard angles for your wrists.
If a wrist rest helps fix a bad angle, then it makes sense to use one.
Some people like them because they feel the edge of the keyboard and desk get painful on their skin. Comfort is always a good reason to consider, especially when gaming for hours.
Do Wrist Rests Matter?
Yes and no. A player’s personal situation and set up can make a big difference in the efficacy of a wrist rest. With a split keyboard, it doesn’t make much sense, for example.
The wrist rest would actually get in the way as the split keyboard works at a lateral angle versus a straight on vertical one.
When Should You Use a Wrist Rest?
The goal is to avoid forearm pronation. This occurs when the wrists are flat on the keyboard or desk. It’s an unnatural position for the forearms, which tend to be positioned a bit more at a side angle.
With the wrists flat, the forearm muscles tend to be compressed more and work harder, and that causes exhaustion over time.
For regular typing and desk work, people don’t notice it much, but when you’re gaming and responsiveness matters, that fatigue can cost you points, literally.
A wrist rest could be useful if it helps reduce stress on the forearms and puts the wrist in a natural position for gaming without pinching nerves going into the hand.
That combination is the ideal situation for gaming and long-term computer keyboard work for hours.
Pay attention to the desk being used as well.
Folks frequently just settle with the table or desk they have, which can also be a reason why wrist rests and other ergonomic aids end up being needed.
Just changing the desk to a better one with the right level can avoid a lot of other issues later on when gaming.
Keep in mind, a wrist rest aid alone won’t solve long-term repetitive use injuries. Instead, building up the arm and hand muscles with exercise away from the computer makes a big difference in performance when online.
Take regular breaks, stretch and do activities completely different with the hands than computer work.
Exercise using weights, stretching and using both pulling and pushing activities. All the muscles in the arm and hands need to be changed up and worked differently to avoid repetitive strain.
A combination of exercise, breaks, and wrist rest if needed and proper equipment all contribute to better wrist health and better gaming overall.