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Anyone got experience using a touchpad for a desktop?

Does it relieve stress on the arm?

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TLDR: Yes a touchpad will have an effect on your stress if only because you use your muscles differently


Define stress? You mean as in Repetitive strain injury (RSI)?

Well RSI is an overuse injury, but in this cause overuse doesn't mean you shouldn't use your arm. You overuse it in the wrong way for (too) long stretches of time, which is straining for the muscles that control your wrist and hand.

The advantage of a touchpad would be that you have to move your hand more than with a regular mouse to get the job done, which means you don't overuse it the wrong way.

Furthermore, what's bad about most typical mouse usage is that you have to keep your wrist in a slightly dorsiflexed (in this case upwards) position all the time, due to the shape and volume of the mouse.

With a touchpad you could leave your hand lying flat or hold it in whatever position you like, which aids to the less intense use of your overused muscles.

Still, like with most injuries there are other factors that might have an influence such as stress (peer pressure and the like) or lack of coffee breaks (or whatever breaks you like to take), which won't be alleviated by the touchpad. And if you use the keyboard just as frequently as your mouse, using a bad keyboard could still give you some strain.

Disclaimer: using the touchpad the wrong way, i.e. with very tensed finger positions, might actually give you more problems in the long run, so learn to listen to your body!

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    Woehoe finally my Human Movement Science study comes in handy :D – Ivo Flipse Oct 15 '09 at 11:27
  • A touchpad causes other kinds of stress: psychological ;) – Nick Josevski Oct 15 '09 at 12:20
  • Maybe try a trackball. – Bratch Sep 12 '10 at 4:42
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I find there are two kinds of "stress." 1) Doing the same thing over and over. 2) Doing something your bio-mechanics aren't meant to do. A touchpad can help with both, but can also hurt with both. Regarding 1, just switching back and forth between devices means less repetition. You may find touchpads are more ambidextrous. And you can certainly switch fingers at any time. Regarding 2, start with a relaxed and comfortable hand and arm (and shoulder and body) position, then see what movements are easy to do, and try to operate the device that way and see what works for you. (Caveat: This is written as a fellow user, not as any kind of doctor.)

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