Switching to a trackball helped my wrist fatigue, you should try one too

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Apr 24, 2016
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For the first time in my life, I ditched a regular mouse for a trackball and I won't be going back.

I'm not as young as I used to be. I've been grappling with finding the best mouse for everyday use for a while now, in part, because my body has been telling me I need to change. The aches in the wrists and the fingers are more frequent and lasting longer, and even my beloved Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro can't change that.

Before I worked at Windows Central I spent years working on massive laptops with dodgy trackpads and desktop PCs in communal office spaces with terrible mice. So it's been well over a decade in the making, but finally, I've decided to do something about it.

Out of the blue, I decided to try a trackball. The results have been immediately noticeable to the point that I'm absolutely convinced and won't be going back to using a regular mouse as my daily driver. It's better than I ever imagined it could be.

The main difference to using a trackball over a normal mouse is the movement. The only part that moves is the ball, so the rest of the mouse stays static. You still get buttons and a scroll wheel, though exact designs will vary, but the crucial factor is that you're not required to move your wrist across the desk.

Instead, your wrist remains static and you use your fingers to push and pull the ball, moving the cursor across the screen as you go. This is the biggest change and for me, the most comfortable.

Spending five days a week in front of the PC working, then some evenings gaming, all that wrist motion from moving the mouse across the desk has been creating some pretty bad fatigue, and while it hasn't completely gone (yet), after a few weeks with a trackball I've noticed a massive change.

What a trackball can't do

The big elephant in the room is gaming. I have tried using the trackball for it, thinking I might be able to pull some insanely quick moves off with a simple flick of the ball, but it's not really worked out. At least not for the games I play the most.

In something like Age of Empires or Oxygen Not Included, it's fine. But for shooters, it is not. It's just not accurate enough, and though I could probably practice, it's easier to sub in a proper gaming mouse.

You also don't get the sort of customizable buttons you might find on a gaming mouse, either. So if you're using those as shortcuts for non-gaming features, as I used to, then you'll be missing out on those as well.

A new approach

It's taken time and a lot of effort to prize my favorite gaming keyboard and mouse away from my desk for regular use, but I'm certainly feeling better for it. After the initial learning curve, there's nothing worse about using a trackball over a mouse, and I actually think I'm now more accurate with it.

If, like me, you're plagued with wrist fatigue then give it a try. You can pick up a good trackball for not a lot of money if you're not sure, as I wasn't, and it could be the change you've been looking for.
 

rain2reign

Level 5
Jun 21, 2020
241
He could have also used a custom DPI and/or needed to pay attention to the weight of the mouse. Too low, a lot of lifting of the mouse. Too high, a lot of micro movements with the wrist and hand. The new "next to nothing lightweight" mice aren't exactly good for most people their wrists. Lots of movement and friction, some weight to the mouse is a good thing! For me, 95 to 100 grams is the most optimal weight, with 800 to 850 dpi, which has been a blessing.

Others may have a different optimal configuration, though!

It's all about finding the right balance for your own physiology. Often people need a bit more weight and lower dpi, but instead go for these new 50 gram mice with like 1600 dpi and other nonsense... Hell sometimes it's not even the mouse itself, but the feet under it that have been either faulty or worn out and needs replacing.

Edit: finding the right size for your hands also does wonders. 🤡
 

Telos

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Jan 29, 2017
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Edit: finding the right size for your hands also does wonders.
Wrist exercises help too. Google carpal tunnel syndrome.

A few years ago, I switched to a thumb-controlled trackball. Initially it seemed to provide the relief I needed. Six months later, I had severe pain at the base of the thumb. That device has been gathering dust for quite some time now. Lesson... mix it up. Any highly repetitive task will cause joint/nerve issues.
 

rain2reign

Level 5
Jun 21, 2020
241
This one can help too:
I tried one of similar design (different brand) for a while, but I got like @Telos mentioned in his post earlier aches at the base of my thumb after a while. Didn't work for me personally, but was still a nice and comfortable mouse while it lasted, though.
 
F

ForgottenSeer 85179

I tried one of similar design (different brand) for a while, but I got like @Telos mentioned in his post earlier aches at the base of my thumb after a while. Didn't work for me personally, but was still a nice and comfortable mouse while it lasted, though.
I never use such an ergonomic mouse, but i use this Mouse Wrist Pad from Glorious:

Works great for my girlfriend and me. No more problems anymore.
For keyboard bigger "pads" also exists.
 

Telos

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Jan 29, 2017
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Alexhousek

Level 2
Aug 19, 2017
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This one can help too:

I have been using one similar to yours for a couple years and it's been very helpful for me in terms of wrist pain. It took a little bit to get used to, but I really like it.

 

Lenny_Fox

Level 22
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Oct 1, 2019
1,125
I use a three month schedule with rotating devices, a left hand up mouse, with normal mouse on the right and a track ball for noth sides. So trackball left, normal mouse right, left hand vertical mouse and trackball om the right, trackball left, normal mouse on the right.

This prevents computer related stress. I realize that it is easier because I am nearly two handed. Like I prefer to write with the right, i could not get used to a normal mouse on the left. Funny thing is that my track ball coordination is easier with my left hand.

Most People think i am left handed, but writing and cutting (as a cook) I do prefer with my right hand, but painting (house painter) I seem to do more left handed (my collegues told me).
 

show-Zi

Level 31
Verified
Jan 28, 2018
2,004
I've had the opportunity to use a trackball several times in the past, but I couldn't use it well. When pushing the ball with a click operation, the pointer shifts probably because of too much force🏋️‍♀️. I had to sharpen my consciousness when clicking.
 
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