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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.