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Angle Parking

Image by zebble via Flickr

One morning last week, I woke up with swollen, painful hands.  What was going on?  I felt upset for several hours.  Then, after some time, I figured out the cause.

It wasn’t from playing the piano.

I’m writing about my experience so you can avoid the same discomfort.


There was a significant amount of computer work I needed to get done.  So I removed my new computer desk from the box and unfolded it.  Voilà!  Lifting one section of the desk resulted in the complete, instant setup!


The wheels were packaged separately.  They were to be attached to the back of the desk.  I assumed that attaching them would be difficult, so I blew it off.  I could get my work done without them, right?

The problem

Now the desk, although stable, was leaning toward the back at an angle of 1½ or 2 inches.  The computer monitor was easy to adjust.  But the keyboard was angled the same way as the desk.

So what?  I could still type.

Why the setup led to pain and swelling

How we use our bodies all day long makes a major difference in preventing or leading to discomfort and possibly permanent injury.

In this case, I raised my shoulders and angled my forearms to accommodate the angle of the keyboard.  And I kept at it for 4 hours.  The angle at which I was holding my arms was not supported.

The next day

Hindsight always makes so much sense, doesn’t it?  I attached the wheels to the desk.  Total time:  less than 5 minutes.  It probably took longer to talk myself out of it than to finish the job.

I took a day off from practicing as well as working on my computer.  My arms needed time to recover, and I didn’t want to push it.  I had no deadlines, so it was possible to allow for a day off.

Now my computer desk is level.  Since last week, I have spent significant time working at my desk with no further problems.

What I learned

It is never OK to blow off something like a work or practice setup.

My advice for all musicians

Be aware of the way you do things all day long.  The happy result will be a lifetime free of injury.

Thanks to C.I. for encouraging me to write about this experience.

Have you experienced discomfort or pain as a result of using bad angles?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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