Should You Use Your Mouse Left Handed?


Wrist pain from mouse use

Computer mouse usage is a major contributor to many of the sore wrists out in the world. With repetitive motions and click after click these necessary input devices do a number on our bodies.

If you are a right handed user suffering from wrist pain one strategy to try is to switch to mousing with the left hand. This may seem like a radical strategy and no doubt the first time you try you will struggle, but with a little practice you will be going lefty just fine.

Why you should mouse with your left hand

Chances are that you have been mousing with the same hand for years, perhaps decades depending on your age. In all those years one wrist has been taking the abuse from your mouse. When switching hands it allows that hand with the pain and possibly injury or swelling to rest and recover. Also, the normal setup of a desk with a keyboard with number pad will tend to cause the user to reach too far out to the right because of the asymmetrical design. This causes extra stress and strain for a right handed user as well.

Ergonomic Benefits

The ergonomic benefits of changing your mouse hand from right to left are clearly giving a rest to your sore wrist so it can rejuvenate. For some users this may allow a previous pain to recover and in others it may only improve a little. Depending on each person’s circumstances they will react differently, but many people who have made the change report nothing but success.

This makes a lot of sense since overuse is a cause and that cause will be removed or reduced. Even if you don’t think you want to go exclusively with a switch even alternating the handedness over the day should provide some R&R for the beleaguered wrist.

In one small study users saw an improvement in wrist extension and shoulder abduction with one month of left handed mouse usage. As expected there was a learning curve that improved over time, but users still weren’t able to mouse as fast after one month as with their dominant hand.

Can you change your mouse hand from right to left?

You may be thinking that you have been mousing with your current hand for so long it is impossible to change. But that is just the fear talking. It is possible to make the change. There are numerous examples in forums and around the web of people making the change when it will help them.

How long will it take me to change my mouse hand?

Estimates range from a few hours to a few days to even a few weeks on the high side. Most people should be able to make significant progress in a couple of days. Keys to making the switch successfully are to be patient and be willing to give it some time. On some level you will be like a child learning how to write but you already know how to use a mouse so you actually have one up on that level of knowledge. Where possible try to give yourself a little more time for your tasks so you won’t be tempted to switch back when time gets tight. The general consensus seems to be not to change the settings on your mouse but instead to learn how to use it as programmed and change your clicking habits, but there is some debate on this point.

Practice with your left hand

You may not be able to anything with your left hand and wonder how in the world to make it work when you first give this a try. If that is the case stick it out and practice. Do simple exercises with your mouse like pointing and clicking, double-clicking to open a file, and going to the file menu over and over a few times. In this example it is about writing, not mousing, but you can see the principle of small things done repeatedly at first to retrain your brain.

Possible brainpower increase

As a fun close out note there are some reports that changing handedness can lead to a brain change for the better. Visualize that not only are you improving your wrist pain, but that you are expanding your mind as well and see if that helps through the tough parts.

Final Thoughts

Most of the tech marketplace is a right handed person’s environment though that is changing a little more each year. Learning to use your left hand for mousing is a valuable skill that may impact your wrist pain in a significant way. Some standard mice can be used with either hand, but to really gain the benefits a more ergonomic mouse would be preferred. There aren’t as many choices as other models, but there are numerous left handed choices available as well.

Happy mousing and if you make the change and it helps please share your comments and learning tips below so others can benefit from your experience.