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Topic: Composer injuries

  1. #1

    Composer injuries

    As much as the thread title may sound funny, I intend this as a serious subject.

    Im wondering what kind of ailments have afflicted the working composer, both physical and mental?

    Ive heard of some complain about carpal tunnel syndrome, is there anything else that commonly occurs?

    Since Ive been confined to my studio for extremely long hours lately, here's a couple of things Ive noticed;

    - sore fingers, sometimes I get carried away playing in percussion or fff brass parts, my hands can get really sore and stay that way for hours.

    - sore right arm, i have a very bad habit of holding the mouse and leaning on it. Ive had muscles cramps and even now as I type this, a burning feeling in my forearm. This has been present off and on, for months.

    Possibly the only good habit I have is taking my gaze off the monitors and looking out the window into the distance. Apparently it helps the eye muscles to alter your depth and field of view occassionally.

    So what else afflicts us? And what can we do to avoid it?
    - SCA - Sound Studios -

  2. #2

    Re: Composer injuries

    Im very careful with the mouse. I use a Logitech thumbscroll.
    I try to be very mindful of how my right wrist is positioned.

    I'm a flamenco/classical guitaist in addition, so my hands can
    see alot of punishment in a day of work.

    I've managed to keep my hands healthy thus far.

    My LCD monitors are alot easier on the eyes than my old CRT.
    Those CRT's give me a headache.

    I'm also very mindful of my EARS. I always try to program and mix
    at the lowest possible level i can live with. Every now and then
    i crank it a bit, to check things out.

    I was at a guy's studio the other day, and he was monitoring so
    loud, i had to take a few steps back, AND hold my ears.

    Your ears are very valuable in this biz people! Turn that sh!t down!

  3. #3

    Re: Composer injuries

    Not so many years ago the problems were ink stained fingers and papercuts.


  4. #4

    Re: Composer injuries

    Very good subject Scott, i've been thinking a lot about it the last monts . Here's my list :

    - My right shoulder hurts after a while because the desk is a bit high ( I Have the midi keyboard where the mouse/typer should be )

    - Right hand get strains from the mouse after a long time of holding it . I think it's because the little finger ( The one not resting on the mouse ) is touching on the desk instead of mouse.

    - Headphones : Ears hurt pretty bad , feels like the soft bones are gonna pop out sometimes ( After 10 hours ) . Also , my right jaw connection is hurting the last days everytime i wear headphones from the constant pressure .

    - Legs : When i use the office chair that leans back a bit and slide under the desk , and do it for many hours, sometimes my whole legs hurts when i walk . I think it's called "Economy class syndrome" , the same thing you get in airplanes. I started school lately , so i have to walk a lot and it's gone . When i use a simple, straight back chair and keep my back straight, all is ok as well .

    - Eyes : Myopia. When looking at something near and then look further, it takes time to focus on it . And vise versa .

    - Air : Don't Smoke . Don't start smoking . Can't say anything more

    No bad psychological effects , at least that i am aware of.

    I think the best way around most problems is to take advantage of the "Dead Times" on the pc . Whenever your project is loading , do some stretches or Abs / hand heights . Whenever you bounce something, take a break etc.
    Theo Krueger - Composer


    Kontakt 2 Scripts

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Cannibal Island, Loleta, California

    Re: Composer injuries

    For me the biggest problem is a sore neck and lower back. I need to remember to watch my posture, and to get up and stretch regularly.

    My day job is as a glassblower/lampworker... I spent the first few years working most of the time sitting in front of my workbench. When I raised my bench and started working standing it helped a lot. As crazy as it sounds, I sometimes think about how I might be able to have my studio set up so that I could stand some of the time.

    I was going through some of my old music recently... that was sort of painful too.
    Dane Hawkes DiAnda
    C. I. Studios

  6. #6

    Re: Composer injuries


    I started feeling the same burning sensation in my right forearm several years ago. I've been using an Ergodyne wrist support ever since, and I swear by it. It's the only wrist support I've tried that a) works, and b) isn't too cumbersome. Highly recommended. Check it out:


  7. #7

    Re: Composer injuries

    Gotta set yourself up right.

    I keep going on about this, but the way to avoid carpal tunnel problems is to put the keyboard and mouse on a desk about 1' from the front edge. That makes your forearms the pivot point.

    There's no pivot point if you use a keyboard tray, so you tense up your forearm to create one. Bad.

    You can't really do that while you're using a piano keyboard, but you still have to figure out some place to put your forearm...such as the armrest on an Aeron chair.

    (I have a sliding desktop over my piano keyboard, so most of the time my desk is in the forearm-friendly position.)

    The other trick, I think, is not to stay in the same position all the time. Change chair height, get up, etc.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Composer injuries

    Watch those hurting shoulders. That's impingement syndrome. Too high mouse/trackball is what causes it. Leaning on the mouse will do it, too (in addition to carpal tunnel). The padding separating the bones in your shoulder is literally getting squished flat and inflamed, and it only gets worse. You need to be stretching and working out, and correcting the problem mouse placement.

    Trust me, this is something you don't want to go full-blown with. The pain can be debilitating, and you can lose a lot of range of motion. You don't even want to imagine some of the treatments for this. One involves a really long fat needle. At the very least, hardcore anti-inflammatories for a while, and lots of stretching and strengthening.

    Don't let it get out of hand. Big occupational hazard with composers, editors, anyone who has a hand on a mouse all day. Trackballs really help for carpal tunnel, but unfortunately, for shoulder impingment syndrome, they can be as bad or worse. Leaning on your elbow while operating a trackball is bad mojo for the shoulders.

    Ear damage is another biggie. Volume is so seductive, especially when you're young and invincible. Especially if you play in bands. Around age 40 it all catches up.

  9. #9

    Re: Composer injuries

    Wow, so many great responses in such a short time. Thanks guys.

    Keep em coming! Im sure others will benefit from this too.

    - SCA - Sound Studios -

  10. #10

    Re: Composer injuries

    Diabetes! Well not from composing. But I developed diabetes at age 40 (I'm 44 now) so it's a constant fight to keep my energy up. Also I do sit for long periods like everyone else here no doubt does so my butt hurts. But I go for a long walk at least once a day with my dog and it allieviates a lot of the little pains.


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