Ergodox Keyboard Thumb Keys Pain

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

The ergodox keyboard has a problem: The thumb keys need stretching to reach.

ergodox thumb problem Xah Talk Show 2020-08-13. The Opposite of Love. Emacs, Ergodox, why emacs is better than vim
ergodox kx6v9-s520x693
ergodox thumb keys gap. (2019-12-09 thanks Nabi Yang for image)
ergodox z5x2z-s520x693
ergodox thumb gap, which people use to rest thumb. Causing it to have a Wear Shine due to the ABS plastic. [see Keycap Material: ABS, PBT, PVC, POM] (2019-12-09 thanks Nabi Yang for image)

If you are basketball player with big hands, then no problem.

If you are Asian female, then you may find that none of the thumb keys are easy to reach. If this is the case, ergodox isn't for you, because one of the most used key the Space key is a thumb key.

there is this guy Daerid got thumb pain from using ergodox for a year.

My year with the ErgoDox (or how I learned to stop worrying and love QWERTY)

« on: Fri, 23 May 2014, 12:06:08 »

I've spent the better part of the last 12 months (got my first ErgoDox in June of last year) evangelizing the ErgoDox, espousing its greatness every chance I could get. Not necessarily to the level of tp4tissue, but well enough. I went all in with it, going as far as selling all my beloved Topre boards as well as any remaining Cherry boards I had lying around.

However, recently I sold all three of my ErgoDoxes and purchased a 55g 87U, a FC660C, and a Code 104 w/ Clears.

Huh? What the hell?

There's quite a simple explanation: my right hand started hurting like hell.

A little background:

From probably around 1998 up until 2010 (when I registered on this site and bought a Das Keyboard Ultimate 3 w/ Blues) I was a strictly Microsoft Ergonomic guy. I started out on the Natural Keyboard Pro and used those for probably 5+ years. I tried the Natural Multimedia Keyboard (the gray one), the standard Natural keyboard (with the cross arrows), and then finally landed on the Natural Keyboard 4000. I was very much a fan of “ergonomic” boards.

Then I found this site and my wallet essentially lit on fire. I bought a DK3 Ulti, 3 Pokers, 4 Filcos, a HHKB, traded that for an FC660C, 2 QFRs, and 3 RealForce 87Us (probably forgot a few as well).

And then the ErgoDox went up on MassDrop and I thought “what the hell, I love ergo boards”.

I put it together on June 16th (Father's Day) 2013, and was immediately hooked. Once I got used to the layout, it felt completely natural and relaxed. I originally bought a full hand with Clears, and then bought a classic with Clears, and then bought another classic with Blues. I sold all my other boards (including my ultra-heavy 55g AE RealForce that I looooooved) and started using the ErgoDox exclusively. I preached how awesome it was to anybody and everybody I could (don't get me wrong, I still think it's an awesome board). I got one of kurplop's absolutely excellent ErgoDock wooden tented rests. I was in ergonomic bliss.

Or so I thought. (*DUN* *DUN* *DUN*)

A few months ago I started noticing a slight pain in the base of my right thumb, right where it meets the wrist. I didn't really pay any attention to it at first, but it kept getting worse and worse. It didn't register to me that it would be related to my keyboard, because “hey, I'm using an ergo board! there is no way!”. At first I thought it was the tenting, because the pain went away for a while after I had to use the ErgoDox flat for a week (wasn't in my home office). However, it came back after about a week, even after switching to using the Dox flat.

It wasn't until after I went back to the 55g RF for a few days and the pain went away completely that I started thinking it might be the ErgoDox itself. After examining closely how my hands moved and what muscles I was using when typing on the ErgoDox, I realized that it was the placement of the thumb clusters.

Using the ErgoDox thumb clusters (even just the closest vertical button, which I used for the space bar), required me to extend my thumb ever so slightly. This constant extending of the thumb eventually caused that tendon to just start screaming in pain. It was only my right thumb because that's the only hand I use to hit the space bar.

I tried going back to the ErgoDox a few times, but every time within a matter of hours my right hand would be in agony. So, regrettably, I came to the decision that the ErgoDox was not for me. It was a fun year, and I still feel the ErgoDox is a fantastically designed board. It's just not worth it for me, as much as I might like it to be.


ErgoDox makes my hand hurt, still love it but can't use it.

PS: I'm not suggesting that the ErgoDox is a flawed design or that somebody who has been thinking about buying it shouldn't, I'm just saying that it didn't work out for me due to how I personally type.

[My year with the ErgoDox (or how I learned to stop worrying and love QWERTY) By Daerid. At , accessed on 2016-08-11 ]

More discussion of the thumb keys problem:


If your hand is smallish:

As always, take 5 minutes breaks every hour.

ergodox modified thumb keys 2017 03 22
Modified ergodox, with closer thumb keys. [Hand-wiring a Modified Ergodox By Mikel Duffy. At , accessed on 2017-03-22 ]
ergodox heart keyboard 2015-08
ergodox heart keyboard. Improved ergodox thumb cluster. by jacobolus. [from ]

Diverge Keyboard improved the thumb key position.

back to Ergodox Keyboard