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Trigger Point Therapy - Sciatica
by Judith Winer on Jan 04, 2016
When we analyse the traffic through our clinics at the end of each quarter, sciatica seems to be always up there in the top ten. There are probably two good reasons for this. The first is that sciatica is one of those conditions where the pain can be extremely severe. The second, is that manual therapy has long since been recognised as being effective for providing relief, even by most medical doctors. In fact, any therapist familiar with trigger point therapy will tell you that they're always upbeat going in to treat sciatica, as the effects of the therapy are in most cases, extremely positive. This is something that has been reaffirmed in a number of studies.
I first met Bonnie Prudden around 1981 when I visited the Academy for Myotherapy and Physical Fitness that she founded in a former school building in the quiet, wintry New England town of Lenox, Massachusetts.
Judy Vashon, then Bonnie's principal assistant at the Academy, greeted me in the Academy office that morning, shepherded me through the classrooms and introduced me to students and teachers scattered throughout the building. In what was to become a tradition in myotherapy circles, I was invited to join in a stretching and aerobics class. It was easy to connect with the energy of this happy crowd and their instructors. Although I was in training to run marathons at the time, the rigor and diversity of these fitness sessions were fully engaging , and I was properly impressed.
Bonnie and several of her staff and I drove to lunch near town and later stopped at Bonnie's house to tour its grounds; we continued talking about her program of deep, soft tissue compression, stretching and exercise as a therapeutic model and as a lifestyle.
I learned from Bonnie how her own physical pain and her life experience as an athlete and a champion of fitness had brought her to Lenox, The Academy and to commit herself to a lifelong goal of helping people cope with, prevent, conquer and manage myofascial pain. Her genius brought together her knowledge and her dynamism into a coherent whole that she named Myotherapy. In her vision this new modality welcomed and encouraged the crucial involvement of pain sufferers in mitigating their own pain. Myotherapy, in Bonnie's message, offered a non-invasive, day to day approach to healthy, self sustaining lives for client and healer alike.
I made that first visit to Lenox to learn more than I knew at the time about Myotherapy and to share with Bonnie, her students and teachers my brand new Original Backnobber® deep muscle self care tool. I wanted to know if it and other tools that I was, by then, developing could have a place in the Myotherapy practice model that Bonnie and her associates had developed and were refining there in Lenox.
At the time Bonnie must have been about sixty seven years old; I was about forty four. She and I didn’t actually talk for very long about tools during my visit, but from that early connection with students at the school and through the past thirty years, Myotherapists particularly and clinicians in an ever expanding diversity of therapeutic disciplines have been the most loyal and consistent users and supporters of The Original Backnobber® and the other self care tools made and distributed by The Pressure Positive Company.
As we drove back to the school building from lunch that first day, our conversation touched on a wide range of topics; in the exchange, Bonnie informed me of her belief that in an earlier life she had been a surgeon in the ancient army of Rome. While telling me this colorful and intriguing tale, Bonnie gripped my shoulder from the back seat to administer a precise and firm, “myotherapeutic” compression that she assured me would fix my chronically stiff neck. It was a convincing display, but the reality was that I was already convinced that Bonnie was onto something critical and that in this, there was a meeting of our minds. Such was my first Bonnie Prudden moment.
I’m delighted to offer an uncharacteristically cheerful preliminary review of a massage tool manufacturer I really like: The Pressure Positive Company. In January, I’ll be publishing a full review of this unusual company and their products. For now, I’d just like to do a brief introduction:
Readers, meet The Pressure Positive Company.
The Pressure Positive Company, meet my readers.
What’s remarkable about Pressure Positive is a rare combination of sensible massage tools and classy, ethical promotion. Their website avoids the big promises and irritating hype that characterizes much of their competition. Instead, they offer substantive good quality information about myofascial pain syndrome. They don’t claim that their tools will “cure” anything — just help. They don’t bombard visitors with pseudo-scientific rationalizations for their products — they’re just massage tools, and that’s good enough.
This may sound unremarkable to you. But how much marketing email do you get from alternative health product makers?
The competition isn’t pretty
I get a lot of sleezy marketing email: email from dodgy companies marketing to health professionals, with crap websites and products that usually seem ill-conceived at best, dangerous at worst. Some are probably well-intentioned but desperately need to hire a professional web designer. Many are more like spammers who’ve decided to try their hand at marketing a “legit” product instead of penis pills.
Compared to all that … Pressure Positive is in a different league, the difference between a dollar store and Macy’s. Communicating with them has been a breath of fresh air in every way. When they contacted me, it was because they were genuinely interested in the science of manual therapy, public education, and the work that I’m doing here at SaveYourself.ca. Because of this, I have quickly come to appreciate them as more than just a maker of massage tools, but as a new partner.
Pressure Positive has been around for quite a while, since 1979, longer than any other massage tool manufacturer I know of. Their best-known tools are their oldest, the Backnobber® and Jacknobber®. And … the The Knobble® II. Oh, Knobble II® — where have you been all my life?
The Knobble® II in action. Massage tools don’t get much simpler than this, and I like that.
My favourite Pressure Positive tool so far is the $10 Knobble® II — which I used to save myself from a nasty headache about 24 hours after it arrived in the mail. Somehow Pressure Positive has managed to reinvent the wheel with this product. It seems to have an answer to that burning massage tool design question, “What is the best possible way to transmit force from the hand to a point without limiting the user to any particular angle or grip?”
The answer, apparently, is to make a good, grippy handle that perfectly fills the palm, and then extend it into a radially symmetric pyramid. Its symmetry is the key to its success, I think. Most massage tools (include several of Pressure Positive’s other offerings) are asymmetric, and the user must adjust it in relationship to the target. That’s not a bad thing: for some nooks or crannies of your body, the right asymmetry will be ideal. But the same tool will also be wrong for some other nook or cranny. But the Knobble’s symmetry makes it a beautifully grip-agnostic generalist of a tool; no matter what you’re aiming at, it grips the same way, which makes it feel much like a hand-replacement than a tool.
And why (why, why?) didn’t I have a tool already that I could drop the weight of my head onto? I have a large collection of tools, and not one of them allows me to settle my suboccipital muscles (Perfect Spot No. 1) onto a hard point. The simple, short, pyramidal shape of the knobble is stable under my skull; the point is bulbuous enough to take my weight, but sharp enough to deliver satisfying, focussed pressure. Weirdly, there just wasn’t anything else like this in my collection — yet it’s ideal for applying pressure to one of the single best targets for self-massage in the whole body.
I look forward to reviewing other Pressure Positive tools, several of which are equally well-designed.
About the Author:
Paul Ingraham of SaveYourself.ca is mostly the work of one person, me, Paul Ingraham, a health science journalist and former Registered Massage Therapist. From 2000-2009, I had a busy massage therapy practice in Vancouver, Canada, and published SaveYourself.ca in my “spare” time. Eventually SaveYourself.ca took over, and it is now a full-time job.
ShapeYou.com, the powerful and innovative health and fitness website, is proud to announce that The Pressure Positive Company’s “Original Backnobber II” self care massage tool is winner of a Top Gear of the Year Award , and its “Original Orbit Massager and Original Jacknobber II are the winners of a Great Gear of the Year Award in the Back Products category in this year’s Health & Fitness GearAwards™. ShapeYou.com’s judges are industry professionals who represent trainers, nutritionists, health care practitioners, coaches, athletes, health food storeowners and more.
The huge selection of sports, health and fitness products out in the marketplace gave ShapeYou.com the idea to create and run the GearAwards™. “We want people to easily find the best of the best that’s out there,” a company spokesperson said. “And if it has a GearAward™ seal on it, that just makes it simpler to find a great product – because we’ve done the footwork already.”
ShapeYou.com congratulates The Pressure Positive Company on its award-winning products!
ShapeYou.com (www.ShapeYou.com) is the creation of fitness and nutrition guru Tony Hale, and provides a wealth of information, articles and resources for consumers, retailers, and manufacturers in the sports, health and fitness industries. This year, ShapeYou.com also launched it’s Sports, Health & Fitness Wholesale Trade Directory where wholesale trade buyers for health food stores, sporting goods
stores and many other retail outlets can find all the wholesale products they’re looking for in one location.