Pain-free writing – ergonomic pens for beginners and prolific writers

Whether at school, in training, at university or at work, writing can become painful for a hand that writes a lot. To avoid repetitive stress, retailers should recommend prolific writers to use ergonomic pens and writing aids.

So that the hand can write what the mind thinks, it has to move. It does so in a complex process of wanting and doing, in which our brain controls the muscles that move the skeleton. The skeletal muscles are attached to the joints by tendons and when the muscles contract, they pull on the bones, causing them to move. This involves enormous forces acting on the tendons of the connective tissue. To protect them from strain, the tendons are inserted into tendon sheaths that surround them like a sheath and are filled with lubricant to reduce friction. Anyone who feels a tug in their wrist when writing a lot should act quickly so that the tendon sheaths do not become painfully inflamed. This can be remedied by using ergonomic writing implements and ensuring the correct hand position when writing – something that sometimes has to be relearned. This requires patience, but is well worth it!

Ergonomic writing implements and writing aids

A pen should lie comfortably in the hand, especially when you’re going to write for hours. It should be easy to use without having to exert much pressure and the ink shouldn’t smudge. In general, pens with a wide, three-sided barrel – which results from a larger diameter – and a padded grip, such as the Haptify 1353 ballpoint pen from Schneider, the EASYergo (mechanical pencil), EASYbirdy (fountain pen) and EASYball (ballpoint pen) pens from Stabilo, the Lamy Learner's fountain pen or the Pelikan griffix fountain pen, have all proven themselves. The lighter a pen is, the easier it is to balance in your hand. The fine motor skills of the writing hand – which vary greatly between children and adults – are also decisive factors when it comes to choosing a suitable pen.

It’s good to know that even when it comes to painting implements, there are ergonomic brushes such as the 5-piece griffix® brush set from Pelikan for inexperienced children who want to apply their first strokes of paint to paper.

The majority of ergonomic pens still have the typical straight shape. However, if you hold such I-shaped pens too loosely, they soon slip out of your hand. Gripping them too tightly, on the other hand, leads to strain or cramps. What is more, it is often hard for writers to see what is being written, as their fingers and pen cover the writing up. If they try to compensate for this by tilting their head to one side, they may experience tension in the neck and back. There are, however, already more ergonomic pens on the market, such as the Z-shaped "Yoropen Z3" with a zig-zagged refill, whose design is universal: it can be twisted and shaped. And you no longer smudge what you’ve just written. If you put a "PenAgain Ergo Soft Ballpoint Pen" with a roughened, soft surface in your hand, you will not tire so quickly while writing. The "Ring Pen" does not have a centre of gravity in the middle and its base isn‘t at the front end either, which means it can be safely guided with little effort. The "wood stone pen" is a far cry from the typical pen shape: it lies in your hand like a wooden stone and you buy one that fits the palm of your hand. Handles that can be attached to pens have proven to be useful as writing aids and come in many different shapes.

Ergonomic writing – the right pen position

The pen should be gripped loosely and only gently pressed against the paper. By the way, ink pens are often more ergonomic than other pens because they glide more easily over paper, so less effort is required. A pen is also more ergonomic if it‘s not held too far down at the tip. You should always write with your whole arm, with your hand and wrist resting still and the movement coming from your elbow and shoulder. Your fingers should only support the pen, not guide it. You should not bend over the paper you are writing on, but should pull your shoulders back and push your chest out. This way, your shoulders, arms and neck won’t get tired so quickly.

3 tips for retailers


  1. When they buy pens, give your customers tips on how to use them if they write a lot. If they do, they should take regular breaks and rotate their wrists in figures of eight or shake out their hands. So-called squeezy balls can also be used now and then so as to loosen any stiff finger joints caused by writing.
  2. When giving your customers advice on pens, always ask whether they write a lot and, if they do, recommend them ergonomic pens to relieve the strain on their writing hand.
  3. When selling a learner’s fountain pen, the pupil should definitely write down a word or two in order to ensure that it fits snugly into their hand. Also, experience has shown that when the pupil chooses the writing implement by themselves, they value it more highly and treat it better in everyday life.

About the author

The freelance journalist on organic issues and #motherof4 Doreen Brumme blogs on about how to enjoy a green lifestyle at work, in school and at home.

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