Find Out What the Posture the Wrist and Hand Should Be in When at Rest

Woman holding her wrist pain from using computer. Office syndrome
Holding your wrist in the "natural" position supposedly curbs pain and discomfort. Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

Ergonomics is the process and study of people's efficiency in their workplaces and environments. The term ergonomics comes from the Greek word ergon, which translates to work, while the second part, nomoi, means natural laws. The process of ergonomics involves designing products and systems that best fit those using them.

People are at the heart of this "human factors" based work, which is a science that has a mission to understand the human ability and its limitations.

The main goal in ergonomics is to minimise the risk of injury or harm to people.

Human Factors and Ergonomics

Human factors and ergonomics are often combined into one principle or category, known as HF&E. This practice has been researched in many fields such as psychology, engineering, and biomechanics. Examples of ergonomics include the design of safe furniture and easily used machines to prevent injuries and disorders like physical strain, which can lead to disability.

The categories of ergonomics are physical, cognitive, and organizational. Physical ergonomics focuses on human anatomy and physical activity and looks to prevent illnesses such as arthritis, carpal tunnel, and musculoskeletal disorder. Cognitive ergonomics is involved with mental processes like perception, memory, and reasoning. For example, decision making and work stress can relate to interactions with a computer. Organizational ergonomics, on the other hand, focuses on structures and policies within work systems.

Teamwork, management, and communication are all forms of organizational ergonomics.

The Natural Wrist Position in Ergonomics

The natural wrist position in the field of ergonomics is the posture the wrist and hand assume when at rest. The upright position of the hand, like that of the handshake grip, is not a neutral position.

When using a computer mouse, for example, the aforementioned position can be harmful. Rather, the position to adopt should be that of when the hand is at rest. The wrist should also be at a neutral position and should not be bent or tilted.

For best results for both your hand and what's happening on the computer screen, finger joints should be placed mid-position with muscles being only slightly stretched. Doctors and professionals assess designs on how to use products, like a mouse, in comparison to the neutral position, in order to meet a standard requirement that considers the joint motion, physical restrictions, the range of movement, and more.

The natural wrist position when at rest is characterized by the following:

  • A straight, unbroken wrist
  • The hand rotated to a relaxed position (30-60 degrees)
  • The fingers curled and at rest
  • The thumb straight and relaxed

How the Natural Wrist Position Is Defined

Medical professionals have decided on these characteristics as the defining points of the neutral position of the hand from a functional perspective. For example, consider the mechanics behind placing a hand in a cast when injured. Doctors place the hand in this neutral position, as it brings the least tension to the muscles and tendons of the hand.

It is also in this position due to functional efficiency upon cast removal, as according to biomechanics.