If you are a hot beverage consumer, your mug is source of comfort and enjoyment. Novelty mugs are a big industry and I have given and received many a mug that I thought was just about perfect. A mug isn’t something we think about much when switching to a new one. I have wrist issues and it took someone else to point out that the mug I was using contributed to the pain due to its shape and small handle. It is then that I started thinking about mugs and cups in a different light. Ergonomic, comfortable mugs have a few things in common:

1. Balanced shape

Top-heavy mugs tend to topple. Never buy a mug with a narrow footprint and wider top if you ever knock over your mug. Choose a mug with where the base is wider or the same width. If you prefer heavy mugs, this matters less, but if you need a lightweight easy-to-lift mug, always buy a wide bottom mug.

handmade mugs
Pick a mug with a wider base for the most stability


2. Narrow, wide or curved?

Make sure the mug is comfortable to hold. Choose a wider mug for larger hands and a narrower mug for smaller hands. Inward curves in the bottom half of the mug make it more comfortable to hold without a handle, just make sure the curve does not result in a narrow footprint that make it less sturdy. Outward curves look pretty but if you don’t use the handle, can make it uncomfortable to hold.

3. The handle

Sturdy large mug comfortable to grip. Weight makes up for the narrowed base

Pick a cup with a wide handle so that you can use your whole hand to pick it up by the handle and not just two or three fingers. If you do not use the handle, pick a mug without a handle or with a handle wide enough for all your fingers to fit through comfortably.

4. Light weight or heavy duty

There are many condition that reduce grip strength and can make heavy mugs difficult to hold. If your hands easily tire or if you have any form of repetitive strain injury or joint instability in your hand or wrist, pick a light weight mug.

On the other hand, if you are clumsy, have poor proprioception or control, a heavier mug is the way to go. Are you more likely to have difficulty picking up a full heavy cup or more likely to knock over or drop a lightweight dainty one? Think about the weight and what would work better for you.

5. Anti-spill mugs

A mug with a small indentation around the rim is my most coveted design choice. It makes it easier to drink and easier not to spill whilst taking a sip. If your cup has little rivulets of coffee down the side of your mug, this is a design choice that will definitely help.

I haven’t seen many mug with an indentation, in fact, the only way I have been able to get my hands on this type of cup are through custom designs. There are many shops that hand make pottery or ceramic mugs, it might be worth getting a mug made up for you that fits your exact requirements.

My favourite three mugs
My favourite mugs

A mug is a little piece of home we take for granted. If you have a disability and have been stuck with a plastic two handle toddler style mug, experiment a little with different designs, it may well be possible to find a mug that suits both your disability and personality. Knocking over coffee cups or feeling a twinge in your wrist every time you pick it up are small concerns in the greater scheme of things, but it’s a small issue that can be fixed. I change mugs regularly, but I keep a selection of different ergonomic bonus points. Some times that first cup of the morning just has to be served hot in a big, solid mug that says “A trusted friend in Science” on the side.

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