Embrace the Vertical Mouse

Back in April, I put out the post Standing Desk – Ghetto Edition. That post was about figuring out ways of reducing my right shoulder pain. My solution of stacking my computer and monitor on boxes turned out to be unsustainable. The weight of the equipment on the boxes caused them to warp. I meant to get some better boxes, but I never did. What I did instead was take the advice Kamal suggested in his comment.

Michael- have you ever looked into “vertical” mice?

A neutral hand position often translates to better shoulder positioning. Since I’ve had a few shoulder surgeries, I tried to look into a zillion different ways to ease shoulder tension at the computer, and this might be one good thing to look into.

I bought the mouse that day. It took me a few days to get used to the mouse, but now I am a believer. I have less tension in my right shoulder and far less tension on the back on my right forearm. When I first started using the vertical mouse, I started getting some pain in my right wrist. I solved that problem by switching back to my regular mouse every 3rd day for about 2 weeks. Since that adaptation period, I’ve been using the vertical mouse 100%.

Evoluent VM4 Vertical Mouse Right Handed - The Patented Shape Supports Your Hand
Evoluent VM4 Vertical Mouse Right Handed – The Patented Shape Supports Your Hand

My shoulder tension isn’t 100% gone, but the sharp pains are. Also, all the pain I was experiencing in my lower arm from extending mouse use is gone since using the vertical mouse. Note it did take a few weeks for this benefit to occur.


Add yours

  1. I am very skeptical that a vertical mouse will make that much difference in shoulder pain. I used to have chronic shoulder area pain (symptoms similar to Thoracic outlet syndrome), that I attributed to mouse use (I am a middle aged computer programmer).

    My solution was to move to dual mice. I have two mouse pads, two mice, one on the left of my Keyboard and one on the right, both connected and working all the time.

    This was an evolutionary solution, I probably couldn’t have moved straight to dual mousing because I was far from ambidextrous, and very right handed. When my pain was at it’s worse, I switched to left hand mousing exclusively(awkward at first), but eventually I was getting occasional RSI issues on the left side.

    So next I moved to dual mice, one for each hand. Now I switch hands many times during the day without even thinking about it and my mouse related RSI issues are all but gone.

  2. @Peter S – I think your solution is probably better than mine, but I don’t think I could get used to doing 2 mice.

    I will say that I waited almost 4 months before posting this. I wanted to see if extended use of a vertical mouse caused its own problems. It didn’t. The vertical mouse is better for my shoulder. Probably for some of the same reasons why pressing movements in the gym are easier on the shoulders when the palms face each other.

  3. As I said, it was an evolutionary move. There is no way I could have moved from right hand mousing to dual mousing, without the time spent (months) left hand mousing, forcing me to be more ambidextrous first.

    We are all individuals with our own physiological oddities. I hold a regular mouse in a semi neutral tilted hand position, I feel zero tension from this, unlike holding a barbel where you are locked strictly in a plane and moving through a range of motion. There the tension is evident to me. I feel no benefit moving my mouse hand from tilted to straight up (likely no detriment either, except needing expensive vertical mouse).

    RSIs are tricky beasts.

    I can’t do regular chin-ups (palms facing me). I get chronic pain similar to tennis elbow. But I can do pull-ups (Palms facing away) without issue. This is strange because I clearly feel much more alignment tension with palms facing away, than palms facing toward me.

    Stress while working is also a significant factor causing you to tense shoulder muscles, which can make gauging small changes difficult.

    In the end use whatever works for you.

  4. @Peter S – Thanks for the info.

    The downside to the vertical mouse is because of its design it is only right-handed, so one couldn’t train to be ambidextrous with it. One would need to buy the left-handed model as well. 🙁

  5. Oddly enough, I recently noticed that while I am sitting and surfing the internet if I turn my head towards my right shoulder with my right hand still on the mouse, I get a very sharp pain in my upper-right back/shoulder. Also the butt of my right palm always hurts from resting on the mouse.

    Are these the same problems you were experiencing?

  6. @thomas – I didn’t get the palm pain, but everything else you described is exactly what I experienced. The vertical mouse has your hand in a position as if you giving a hand shake. The sharp pains went away. For a brief period, I did some pain at the bottom edge of my right wrist, but with use that quickly went away too.

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