Skip to Content

What is the best position to rest your wrist?

Resting your wrist in the optimal position is crucial for avoiding pain and discomfort while working on a computer. The ideal wrist position helps maintain proper alignment in the wrist joint, prevents excess strain, and reduces the risk of repetitive stress injuries.

What causes wrist pain from computer use?

Using a keyboard and mouse for prolonged periods can lead to various wrist problems, including:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – Pressure on the median nerve in the wrist causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand.
  • Tendonitis – Inflammation of the tendons due to overuse.
  • Ganglion cysts – Fluid-filled lumps that develop near joints and tendons.
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis – Inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist.

These issues arise from repetitive wrist movements and improper posture placing strain on the wrist over time. Bending the wrists too far up or down for long periods can compress nerves and tendons, leading to injury.

Ideal neutral wrist positioning

Doctors and ergonomic experts recommend keeping the wrist in a neutral or straight position as much as possible. This means avoiding extreme bending up (extension), down (flexion), left or right (ulnar/radial deviation).

Specifically, the ideal wrist position involves:

  • Keeping the wrist straight and level with the forearm, not bending up or down.
  • Aligning hands directly in front of your body while typing.
  • Avoiding side-to-side twisting at the wrist.
  • Allowing hands and wrists to float freely rather than resting heavily on a surface.

This neutral alignment minimizes stress and tension on the delicate nerves and tendons running through the narrow carpal tunnel in the wrist. It allows hands, wrists, and arms to relax into a natural position of repose.

Tips for maintaining neutral wrist position

Practicing good posture and ergonomics can help keep your wrists in a neutral position while working:

  • Use an external keyboard and mouse placed at or below elbow height.
  • Avoid using laptop keyboards for extended periods which causes wrist extension.
  • Keep elbows close to your body, supported near the height of the keyboard.
  • Use a soft wrist rest to support hands between typing but avoid resting wrists while typing.
  • Get a split ergonomic keyboard which better aligns with natural hand positions.
  • Make minor posture adjustments often, avoid fixed positions for long periods.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts and macros to reduce repetitive motions.
  • Do gentle wrist and hand stretches throughout the day.

Ideal mouse, keyboard & seat positions

Arranging your workstation properly allows you to maintain neutral wrist positions during computer use:

Mouse position

  • Place mouse at the same height as the keyboard, right next to it.
  • Avoid excessive reaching which causes wrist extension.
  • Use a trackball mouse or vertical ergonomic mouse to keep wrists straight.
  • Scroll wheel mice are ideal to avoid flexion from click-dragging.

Keyboard position

  • Adjust keyboard height so wrists are straight when shoulders are relaxed.
  • Use keyboard tray adjusted to proper height if desk is too high.
  • Angle keyboard down slightly away from you to avoid extension.
  • Consider a split, tented ergonomic keyboard to better fit natural wrist angles.

Seat height and arm position

  • Adjust seat height so forearms are parallel to the floor when typing.
  • Maintain elbow angle of 90-100° for ideal blood flow.
  • Don’t rest wrists on any hard surfaces, keep floating freely.

Taking breaks to rest wrists

Be sure to give your wrists frequent short breaks from typing to rest and recover throughout the day. Some tips:

  • Take a 1-2 minute stretch or walk break every 30-60 minutes.
  • Shake out hands for a few seconds to increase blood flow.
  • Rotate wrists gently in clockwise and counter-clockwise motions.
  • Stretch wrists gently back and hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Use voice dictation software to give wrists a break from typing.
  • Alternate mousing hands to give each wrist a break.

Exercises to strengthen wrists

Performing simple wrist and forearm strengthening exercises helps prevent injury and aids in recovery. Try these exercises regularly:

Wrist flexor stretch

  • Extend right arm straight out with palm facing down.
  • Use left hand to gently pull fingers back until stretch is felt in the wrist.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds, relax. Repeat on other hand.

Wrist extensor stretch

  • Extend right arm straight out with palm facing up.
  • Use left hand to gently pull back of hand towards you until stretch is felt.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds, relax. Repeat on other hand.

Forearm pronation/supination

  • Hold right arm straight out with palm facing down.
  • Slowly rotate hand so palm faces up, then down again.
  • Do 10-15 rotations each direction. Repeat on other hand.

Wrist flexions

  • Sit with forearms supported on table, hands over edge.
  • Slowly bend wrists up and down in small range of motion.
  • Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps for each wrist.

Finger extensions

  • Start with fingers in a loose fist.
  • Slowly open fingers wide, then close back to a fist.
  • Do 2 sets of 10 reps with each hand.

Thumbs up rotations

  • Extend arm straight out with thumb pointing up.
  • Slowly rotate hand so thumb points down, then back up.
  • Do 10 rotations in each direction.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor promptly if you experience signs of a repetitive stress injury like:

  • Persistent aching, tenderness or pain in the wrists or hands
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in the fingers
  • Swelling, redness or warmth around the wrists or forearms
  • Stiffness or loss of flexibility in the hands and wrists
  • Decreased grip strength

Early diagnosis and treatment is key to healing repetitive stress injuries before permanent damage occurs. This may involve medications, wrist splinting, occupational therapy, exercises, activity modifications, injections, or sometimes surgery.

Wrist injury prevention

You can help avoid computer-related wrist injuries by:

  • Using proper posture and workstation setup.
  • Taking frequent short breaks to vary positions.
  • Reducing repetitive forceful motions.
  • Strengthening wrists and hands with exercises.
  • Using ergonomic mice, wrist rests and keyboards.
  • Getting up and moving around regularly.

Finding a comfortable resting position for your wrists while working on the computer is vital for avoiding long-term injuries. Pay attention to any discomfort and make adjustments to keep wrists straight, supported and relaxed as much as possible throughout the workday.


The ideal wrist position while using a computer is neutral with the hands directly in front of you, avoiding bending up, down or sideways. Adjust your workstation setup to allow shoulders and arms to relax while keeping elbows near your body. Take frequent breaks to stretch and strengthen your wrists. See a doctor promptly if you experience any persistent wrist pain or discomfort to prevent long-term damage.